By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – For the Oakridge softball team, it wasn’t how they clinched their latest Division 2 district championship on Saturday, but how they advanced to the championship game.

The Eagles faced neighboring rival and Lakes 8 Conference champion Orchard View in the semifinals on Saturday, and the game was as tight as everyone imagined.

It was tied 3-3 after the regulation seven innings, then Oakridge scored four times in the eighth to secure a 7-3 victory.

That put the Eagles in the title game against Tri-County, and they had a much easier time, blasting the Viiigns 15-0 to claim their third straight district title.

Oakridge, now 32-5 on the season, will face Escanaba next Saturday in the regional semifinals, and a victory would put them in the finals on the same day. The game will be an opportunity for revenge, because the Eagles were eliminated by the Eskymos each of the past two seasons in the regional finals.

“It never gets old,” said veteran Oakridge Coach Joe Coletta about winning another district title. “We came into the season with this being one of our goals, but I didn’t know what kind of team we were going to have. I knew that we had the leadership skills to do this today.

“I am very proud of this bunch, because I don’t think anybody gave them credit this season.”

The outcome of the championship game against Tri-County was never in doubt. The Eagles scored two runs in the first inning, four in the second, three in the third, five in the fourth and one in the fifth. The barrage of runs forced the game to be shortened by the mercy rule.

Halle Jennings paced the Oakridge offense with three hits, including two doubles, and four RBIs.

“I overcame the changeup pitch, which I usually struggle with,” said Jennings, who is a junior and in her third year of varsity. “I just hit the ball today and played my game.”

The Eagles also received strong offensive contributions from Brie Pastor, who had two hits and three RBIs, and  Sophia Wiard, who knocked in three runs. Kaley Pascavis, Kayla Fessenden and Kylee Upson also chipped in two hits apiece.

Pastor started the contest on the mound, pitching one-plus innings. Fessenden pitched the final four scoreless innings, allowing only two hits while striking out five.