By Steve Gunn

HOLLAND – When you reach the state quarterfinal round – particularly playing a very good team like Coleman – there is little room for error.

The Holton Red Devils had two things go wrong early in their 10-0 Division 4 softball quarterfinal loss to Coleman on Tuesday at Hope College, and it cost them.

In the bottom of the second inning of a scoreless game, a routine pop fly on the infield was dropped, and that Coleman runner scored later in the inning to make it a 1-0 game.

Then in the bottom of the third, with the score still 1-0, there was a play at the plate and a Coleman runner looked like she was going to be called out. But the umpire ruled that the Holton catcher interfered because she blocked the plate before she had the ball, and called the runner safe.

Riley Legard gets ready to run to first after hitting the ball for Holton. Photo/Beth Olson

By the end of the inning, the score was 5-0. Coleman went on to add three more runs in the fourth inning and two in the sixth to end the game on the mercy rule.

“That opened things up,” Holton Coach Kirk Younts said about the play at the plate. “I think our catcher was up there a little bit. I think the ump made a good call. She was up the line a little too far. That’s the way it goes.

“We got beat by somebody really good today. Four of the last five years we’ve played them in the quarterfinals, and it’s 2-2 now.”

The mistakes seemed to spark the offense of the Coleman Comets, who piled up 16 hits in the game. Every Coleman starter except the ninth hitter in the lineup had at least one hit. Annabelle Bovee led the way with two hits and four RBIs, while Jaden Berthume had four hits and knocked in two runs.

Berthume also hurt the Red Devils on the mound. The senior pitcher was dominant, striking out 11 and allowing only two Holton hits – singles by Haylee Brant and Riley Legard.

“She had a great changeup,” Younts said about Berthume. “We knew that coming in, but we just couldn’t lay off. If we don’t score a run we’re not going to compete.”

While the last game of the season was painful for the Red Devils, it capped an otherwise great campaign. Holton finished with a 31-5 record, won the CSAA Silver Division championship, and claimed district and regional titles.

The future looks bright, too, because Holton started five freshman or sophomores on Tuesday.

“I hate to see the seniors go,” Younts said. “We’ve got a good nucleus coming back, but we’re going to miss the four seniors.”