After punching its ticket to the quarterfinal round of Division 3 softball playoffs this past weekend, Riverview Gabriel Richard saw the season come to an end on Tuesday with an 8-3 loss to No. 2 ranked Dundee.
The game was much closer than the final score would indicate. Dundee plated five runs in the bottom of the sixth to break what was a 3-3 tie after Richard had tied things up in the top half of the inning on a Sharmaye Becraft base hit to drive in Haley Hand.
After Dundee tallied one run in the home half of the first, Richard (9-19-1) tied things up in the third on a Claire Hesson single to score Joslyn Kaiser. And just like they did later in the sixth inning, Becraft singled in Hand to give the Pioneers what was their only lead of the game and put state-ranked Dundee on the ropes.
The Vikings managed to pull away in the sixth by means of near perfection at small ball. After loading the bases on two singles and a walk to open the frame, a run was scored in each of the next four plate appearances, three by dropping down bunts with the outlier being a groundout to first. They finished off their rally later in the inning with two outs on a passed ball.
Richard as a team finished with six hits against Dundee starter and University of Toledo signee Mckenna Schmidt. Becraft and Morghan Crandall each had multi-hit games while Chelsea Collins and Hesson had the other knocks for the Pioneers, who made their first quarterfinal appearance since 2005.
Collins started in the circle for Richard and, the sixth inning notwithstanding, did a solid job keeping the Dundee offense in check. Only six of the eight runs allowed by Collins were earned, giving up eight hits and three walks, striking out four. Schmidt for the Vikings issued no free passes, allowed six hits and punched out seven Pioneers; only one run was earned.
Richard coach Vince Alessandrini reflected on both the game and his team’s season overall.
“We battled today just like we have all year,” Alessandrini said. “We started off a bit slow but stuck together as a team. They battled all the way until the end, the ball just bounced a different way in the sixth inning. All year, we haven’t really got that timely hit but we’ve managed to do that in the last six or so games, that was good to see.”
“We’ve got four seniors who played their hearts out but we’re pretty young,” Alessandrini added. “We’ve established this year that we can stay together no matter what. We should be ready for next year.”
Dundee moved on to the D3 semifinals at Michigan State University for the first time since 2013 The Vikings will play Schoolcraft, who defeated Grandville Calvin Christian 14-6 in a quarterfinal at Hope College.