Athens softball team prepping for regional round for first time since 1997
TROY — It’s as if he knew the question was coming, like a power hitter facing a 3-0 fastball with the green light to swing.
So when asked how long it had been since Troy Athens had last won a district title, the question was hardly complete when softball coach Dave Marr answered emphatically, “1997. A long time.”
Some 15 years in the making, the Red Hawks are officially marching on to the regional round of the 2012 Division 1 softball tournament.
All year, Marr has talked about his team, its potential and just what he thought was possible.
On June 2, plenty of people officially became believers.
“These kids set this goal back in March, and to go out and actually do it was awesome,” Marr said after his team won a district crown, beating Rochester Adams 9-0 in the final. “This is a huge deal. Today is a pretty special day.”
To add to a little icing on the cake, the district title included a 6-2 victory against five-time defending champ Troy High earlier in the day.
“It’s been a long time. We’ve faced them a bunch, and they’ve certainly had our number,” said Marr, whose squad seemed to be an annual stepping-stone for the Colts and their march forward in the state playoffs. “To get that monkey off our back and to finally beat a good team like that was awesome. I think it gives us a lot of confidence moving forward this year, but also in the future.”
“When you don’t play well, you’re not going to win this time of year,” said Troy coach Tom Calnen, whose team ended the year 27-9. “We didn’t have our best game, but you have to give Athens a ton of credit. They wanted this one badly, and they went out and earned it. I tip my hat to them.”
Once past Troy and into the final, the Red Hawks weren’t going to be denied.
The girls scored four times in the first inning and cruised to the nine-run win.
“The girls are pumped right now,” an equally pumped Marr said. “They’re looking forward to next week.”
Athens (32-6-1) will face White Lake Lakeland in a D-1 regional at Hartland High June 9 at 11 a.m.
Oh, so close
The Troy High baseball team was down to its final three outs, trailing 3-0 in a game where very little had gone right.
Then the rally started.
One runner led to another, then another, and before long, the Colts trailed Auburn Hills Avondale 3-2 in a D-1 district semifinal with runners standing on second and third base.
A line drive out to left field, however, ended the game and sent the Colts home with a 17-17 final record.
“The effort today was great,” coach Jim Ellis said after the loss at Athens. “We made a couple mistakes that cost us, but that’s what happens when you play good teams at this time of year.”
Athens, which upset Pontiac High 6-5 in 12 innings in a May 29 pre-district, lost to Adams 8-1 in the semifinals; Adams went on to beat Avondale in the final.