The Rockford varsity softball team won the Division I district championship at Northview on Saturday, June 5. The Rams edged the host Wildcats in the semifinals as junior Lexi Bettig’s hard grounder to second drove home sophomore Kayla Tykosky with the only run of the game with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Tykosky had led off the inning with a double to the gap in left center. Then freshman Isabelle Mudgett’s hard grounder up the middle, which was fielded nicely by the shortstop, allowed Tykosky to scamper to third base as the throw went to first. Bettig then came through in the clutch with the winning ground ball on a 1-0 count, setting off a celebration for the Rams.
The win over Northview was extra special since the Wildcats had knocked the Rams out of the tournament in 2009 and had also defeated Rockford in the Northview Tournament earlier this year. As they normally do, Northview played incredible defense in this game, with two stellar catches in the outfield on hits that looked destined for extra bases. Tricia Graham was as strong as ever on the mound for Rockford, limiting Northview to just three singles, of which only one left the infield. Graham retired the last 13 batters she faced in order, striking out 14 and walking none in the contest.
The Rams then were pitted against Greenville in the finals, who had beaten Kenowa Hills earlier on Saturday to reach the championship game. In the finals, Graham again allowed just three hits, and this time she struck out 17 batters in a mercy-rule-shortened six-inning game, as she shut out the Yellow Jackets 14-0.
Offensively for the Rams, contributions came from everywhere. Graham led the charge herself with a four-for-four performance. Lauren Pasciak and Morgan Ruchty each scored twice for Rockford, as did Alli Hickox, who added three RBIs as well. Peyton Wells scored three times and drove in one run, and Molly O’Rourke had a big two-run double to the gap in right-center to cap off a big six-run rally for the Rams in the sixth inning. Leah Oliver scored the final run of the contest on O’Rourke’s hit, and Graham and her defense took care of business from there to secure the district championship.
The Rams will now advance to regional play Saturday at Hudsonville. They will play the winner of the Lowell district tournament. In the other half of the bracket at regionals, Hudsonville will play the winner of the Reeths-Puffer district.