Evart takes the state title with one hit

EAST LANSING – Evart managed just one hit against Ottawa Lake-Whiteford ace pitcher Unity Nelson, but that was all the Wildcats needed to win their first MHSAA championship in school history.

Mattisen Tiedt singled in the bottom of the sixth inning to drive home Allyson Theunick from second base, producing the game’s only run in the Division 3 softball final at Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium.

Theunick reached first base when she was hit by Nelson (a North Dakota signing) and stole second base before Tiedt drove her home.

“I went to the plate thinking she was going to hit me inside, or I was going to have to crack it outside and get a double or something. Then I knocked him out,” said Tiedt, a sophomore.

“I told Mattie that she didn’t get her timing right the last at-bat – she had two balls that weren’t quite fair, and I told her there was no one else I’d rather have there than her,” first-year coach Shaun Gray said. . “She came by for us.”

Whiteford (30-6-1) had a chance to get the win in the top of the seventh, putting runners on second and third base with one out, but sophomore pitcher Kyrah Gray went down and struck out the next two batters out to end the series. game.

“I just knew I had to pitch my pitch, not get overwhelmed, be confident and know that I’m a good pitcher and I can get these people out and just not worry about it,” she said .

“My God. It was a roller coaster,” said Shaun Gray, the pitcher’s father. “We struck out the first batter and that was easy, and then the next two batters made us work really hard – I think they both got three or fouled four pitches, finding their way on base before Kyrah came through with the second out of the inning on a strikeout I think we probably got a lucky call in the end on strike three, but I’m not complaining about it.

Kyrah Gray allowed just five hits all afternoon, and 78 of her 100 pitches were strikes.

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Before Theunick went on first, Evart had only three other baserunners all day – Kiera Elder and Katelyn Gostlin both walked and Tiedt was hit by a pitch.

“Off the mound, I knew it was going to be a struggle to score runs,” Kyrah Gray said. “We knew we weren’t going to get ten points, we would be happy if we did, but we knew it was going to be a dogfight so we kept fighting until that one throw came and we got it. ”

Whiteford, meanwhile, threatened to take the early lead with back-to-back doubles in the second inning by Kaydence Sheldon and Koralynn Billau, but since Billau’s was down the left field line, pinch-runner Ava Stevens couldn’t get past third. base.

The match was also notable as it was a match between the teams defeated in the past two Division 3 finals. Standish-Sterling defeated Whiteford 1-0 last year with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning despite a 5-hitter by Nelson. Evart lost an extra-inning match 3-2 to Millington in 2022.

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“There were four or five on this team when we got second,” Gray said. “They’ve been fighting this all season. The hardest part of this season was getting us to not look at this point, and I thought we did a great job. The proof is in the pudding, I guess.”

“We went into this game thinking it was going to be a bigger score because it’s a state championship,” Tiedt said. “We thought it might be 5-4 or 6-5, but both teams eliminated each other and it came down to one goal.”