Fessenden’s pitching, powerful bats combine to give Oakridge fourth straight city softball title

By Andrew Johnson
LocalSportsJournal.com

HOLTON – While you’d expect the offense to be the main story in a 14-0 championship game victory, that wasn’t quite the case for the Oakridge softball team on Saturday.

The Eagles easily defeated host Holton in the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Tier 2 tournament title game. But before the offense could do its damage, great pitching got Oakridge out of trouble.

With no outs in the bottom of the second inning and the score 1-0 in favor of Oakridge, Holton loaded the bases.

But Eagles pitcher Kayla Fessenden buckled down, striking out the next three hitters and sending her team back to the plate with the lead still intact.

Hayden Ruel slides into home while Holton catcher Morgan Murat gets ready to make the tag. Photo/Sherry Wahr

“I had to dig deep,” said Fessenden about shutting down the potential Red Devil rally. “That was a tight position I was in, and it was nerve-wracking. I just had to grind and get some strikeouts. I think it was a huge momentum change, and I’m lucky to have an offensive team behind me that will back me up.”

Backing up Fessenden was exactly what the Oakridge offense did in the top of the third inning, scoring five runs.

Those runs came via back-to-back solo homers by Sophia Wiard and Brie Pastor, an RBI triple from Halle Jennings and a RBI single from Brooklyn Galdeen.

“It lit a fire under us,” said Oakridge head coach Joe Coletta about Fessenden’s heroic pitching performance. “We talked about building on that, and it was the turning point in the game. We had Sophia and Brie go back-to-back and that momentum was obvious in our dugout.”

The Eagles’ offense was far from done for the day after the third, adding two runs in the fourth inning when Jennings doubled to left field, making the score 8-0.

In the fifth inning Oakridge added six runs when Wiard and Pastor each had RBI singles, Jennings plated two on a single and Galdeen also knocked in two with a single. making the score 14-0.

Kayla Fessenden delivers the pitch for Oakridge. Photo/Sherry Wahr

Overall Wiard led the Eagles with four hits and one RBI on the day while Galdeen finished with two hits and four RBIs.

Fessenden finished the game and picked up the victory on the mound, allowing only three hits while striking out 10.

“I didn’t know how we were going to pitch,” Coletta said. “The weather has been so bad and it’s tough to pitch in. But you saw today that Kayla was at her best. She hadn’t been at her best yet because of the weather. I think you saw today that the weather has had everything to do with it, because she’s been great her whole career and was dominant today.”

The Eagles have now won four straight city championships. Jennings said she couldn’t be more proud to be a city champion in her senior year.

“To be honest I think it’s incredible,” said the senior, who finished with five RBIs on the day. “Our team just clicks, and to win this four times is just an amazing feeling.”

Completing the four-peat was also meaningful to Coletta.

“It means a great deal,” the coach said. “I’m very humble and proud of the program and how far we’ve come. I’m sure it’s been done before, but I can’t think of too many teams who’ve won four in a row, so that’s pretty special.”

 

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