>Taylor Heisler’s bomb over the left field fence with two outs in the seventh inning Saturday afternoon was an exclamation point on a season full of them for the young Springport High School softball team.
But it was one of the few high notes the Spartans hit in the Division 3 regional final as veteran-laden Bath dismantled Springport 5-1.
Bath had seven seniors on its roster, while Springport started six underclassmen.
“Seniors matter,” Springport coach Jo Dee Johnston said after the Spartans closed a school record-setting 34-6 season. “It’s do or die with them, because you don’t get to come back and play again.”
Springport scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to beat Grandville Calvin Christian 2-1 in the semifinals.
Bath (31-6) knocked in two runs in the first inning, and Springport was forced to play catch-up the rest of the contest.
Bath added two more runs in the third inning and one in the fifth — more than enough for Bath senior Taylor Toune, who pitched a three-hitter and drove in three runs.
Johnston said she wasn’t concerned about Bath taking an early lead because she figured her team’s offense would spring to life.
“To be honest, I wasn’t worried about the two, I wasn’t worried about the five, because we can come back anytime,” she said. “However, we didn’t really show up to hit.”
Toune retired 10 straight batters to start the game, and singles by Hannah Baum and Becca Watson were the only hits until Heisler’s home run.
Johnston gave freshman Sam Bates credit for fighting hard on the mound and said she didn’t tell her ace anything other than, “It’s just a game, come out and do your thing,” prior to handing her the ball.
Bates struck out six and had two 1-2-3 innings. Bath had nine hits.
Johnston said the loss ultimately was an opportunity to grow and reflect on a superb season.
“We broke so many records and came home with so many trophies — and with a young team. Basically all of them are going to be back,” she said. “We’re going to be better. We’re going to be back with vengeance.”
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on June 12, 2011