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Walks work against Saxons in district loss to TK

The Saxons’ Tandra McKinstry drives the ball to the right side during the bottom of the third inning against Thornapple Kellogg in Hopkins Tuesday. (Photo by Brett Bremer) Brett Bremer

Sports Editor

Aubree Highway doubled and came home on a two-out single by teammate Chelsea Beede in the top of the second inning for the Hastings varsity softball team in its Division 2 Pre-District loss to Thornapple Kellogg at Hopkins High School Tuesday.

Hastings had five hits in the contest, only one fewer than the Trojans, but it's Thornapple Kellogg advancing to Saturday's district semifinals after scoring a 16-1 win over the Hastings girls.

Saxon senior pitcher Brea Madden couldn't seem to find a spot around the plate that the umpire liked. She hit Trojan lead-off batter Paige VanStee in the top of the first inning and then walked eight of the next ten batters she faced.

TK had six runs across in the first inning before it got its first hit, an RBI single into left off the bat of Mo Sprague. TK upped its lead to 11-0 in that opening inning, getting a two-run single from Bre Lake and a two-run double off the bat of Bella VanTil.

The Trojans added one run in the second inning and then four in the third to end the game early. Lake added another two-run single in the third inning, following doubles by VanStee and Shylin Robirds and a Saxon error.

Another hit batter and a couple of walks moved the final Trojan runner around to home.

Hastings opened the game with back-to-back singles from Rylee Nichols and Kelsey Heiss. Stephanie Vanravenswaay knocked a single through the right side in the third inning.

“The girls hit great. The girls hit great. The fielding was good. We have always played great defense,” Hastings head coach Mike Davis said after the loss.

“We made the fewest errors we have in my six years as head coach or assistant. Every time they came on the field you know it was going to be high-spirited win or lose,” he added.

The Saxons were held winless this spring, but it wasn't for a lack of effort. Like Tuesday, pitching was an issue for much of the season.

“Brea was my starter and she did great. She played hard this whole year,” Davis said. “She is my most improved player right there this year.”

“I wish I had her for another year. Last year, she said to me I think I want to pitch. I said okay, we'll put you in a couple.”

The Saxons had a couple of regular pitchers a year ago though so she didn't get much action.

“She pitched a little bit in the summer league for us. I told her to focus on it this year for winter. When she came up her first practice, I'm like who are you and where did Brea go to? She did good. She did good working on that, and her batting came around. Us coaches already nominated her for the most improved player.”

The Saxon team, led by a group of eight seniors, never let the losses get to them too bad this spring. Coach Davis said after a loss his girls were always looking towards the next challenge.

“The girls never got down on themselves for losing. Yes, they wanted to win. They strived to win. They played hard to win,” Davis said.

VanStee pitched for the Trojans Tuesday. She struck out three in her three innings in the circle and didn't walk a batter.

The TK girls take on Hopkins in the first semifinal of the day back at Hopkins Saturday. Wayland and Allegan meet in the second district semifinal match-up, with the district championship game to follow at about 2 p.m.

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