Here is a look at the Division 4 baseball and softball regional action that will take place at Homer this Saturday. A rundown of all of the matchups is followed by my picks:
Ottawa Lake Whiteford (22-8) vs. Camden-Frontier (16-6), 10 a.m.; Homer (20-10) vs. Petersburg-Summerfield (23-4), noon.; Championship 2 p.m.
Other media outlets continue to talk about Homer as the team to beat following a run all the way to last year’s Division 4 state title game, where they came up short, but people need to remember they surprised plenty of “favorites” in 2008 and they could be upset themselves this year.
Ace Paige Winchell is nearly un-hittable on the mound at times and she mowed right through the opposing lineups in districts, but their hitting attack has been a bit hot-and-cold this season.
Winchell is hitting nearly .460 while Vickie VanWert checks in at .412, but the bottom of the lineup is not always a tough out.
Petersburg-Summerfield (23-4) is certainly a worthy opponent in the semifinals, one from the extremely competitive Tri-County Conference, so they’re battle tested to say the least.
Summerfield actually beat Homer 10-0 in the regional final two years ago, but many of the Trojan’s top players were only sophomores.
Summerfield had it easy last weekend though, with a bye in the semifinals, and a 16-0 championship game win over Britton-Deerfield.
Ottawa Lake Whiteford is also at TCC team, one who has a 22-8 record and is led by top pitcher Kesley Hutchison. She pitched a one-hitter (against Waldron) and five-hitter last weekend to guide her team to the regional round.
Hutchinson, along with Kelsie Barron, Kim Lambert and Caitlin Granata of Whiteford were all named to the All-Tri-County Conference Softball Team recently.
Whoever starts on the mound for Camden-Frontier, Megan Schwartzengraber or Morgan Warfield, should create the opportunity for a fantastic pitchers dual with Hutchison.
This is the Redskins third regional since 2000, and second in a row, after they lost to Homer last season.
Editor’s pick: One thing that makes this an extremely difficult regional to pick is the fact that all four of these teams have outstanding pitchers that can carry them through the entire afternoon. That said, I think Homer does get the job done against Summerfield because of how they’ve been playing and because Winchell has proven to be a big-game player, especially on her home-turf. I don’t think things will go quite as well for C-F fans unfortunately. I’m concerned that their defense could hurt them if the game stays tight and they showed a bit of vulnerability against Reading in the district semifinals last Friday. I know they’ll play their hearts out, but I think depth becomes a factor at this point. Ultimately it’s almost a toss-up in the finals, but I’m going to go with Summerfield just because I’m tired of hearing Homer fans say how great their team is, when they couldn’t even win a Big Eight crown.
Homer (21-13) vs. Petersburg-Summerfield (13-10), 10 a.m.; Reading (19-9) vs. Ottawa Lake Whiteford, 12:30.; Championship 3 p.m.
The Rangers are playing the poised, championship style of baseball that people have come to expect of Rick Bailey’s teams in June, but the competition will be stiff at the Homer regional Saturday.
They will face a veteran Ottawa Lake Whiteford team who starts seven seniors in the regional semifinals, after the Bobcats crushed Waldron 20-0 and beat Lenawee Christian 8-0 in district play last weekend.
Whiteford can put up some runs, like the 28 it put on Madison earlier this season, but most of their wins come via strong pitching and mistake-free defense.
On Wednesday the Bobcats played one of Division 3’s best teams in Blissfield and lost just 7-6 at Adrian College.
Starting pitcher John Morrison pitched a three-hit shutout in Whiteford’s district championship victory.
On the other side of the bracket, Homer faces Petersburg-Summerfield.
Homer is 20-10, but finished just fourth in the Big Eight and had a pair of easy 10-0 wins over Tekonsha and North Adams-Jerome in district play.
Summerfield is an interesting case because they are only 13-10, but they come from a strong TCC conference and are coming off an impressive showing in districts.
Jake Gilstorff pitched a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts in s semifinals bout with Saline Washtenaw Christian, before Tyler Glass hurled a no-hitter with five strikeouts in the championship game against Ypsilanti Calvary Christian.
Gilstorff also hit two homers and drove in six runs in the semifinals.
The competition was far from the best, but they dominated the field nonetheless, making them a tough read.
Editor’s pick: I mulled over this one from sunrise to sunset Thursday, just because I try and give you my honest, well-thought out opinion, instead of what my heart’s telling me. I came up with this: Reading’s intangibles give them the slight edge over a fairly even field, but Homer has the home-field advantage. Thus, those two make the semifinals, setting up an all Big Eight final. I say if Reading can beat Camden-Frontier’s Kurtis Tyler, like they did last week, they can hang with any pitcher as long as their own pitching and defense holds up. Part of me hopes Bailey thinks he can make it to the finals without putting Ryan Dillon out to the mound, so the Rangers can save him for the championship game. If this indeed happens it’s just the edge Reading needs. Hopefully this savvy group of youngsters can make me look smart come Saturday.