PONTIAC — She’s been around long enough to know what this time of the year can do to a high school athlete, where every pitch and every swing can alter a season — or very well end it.
The playoffs are pressure packed, and when fewer and fewer teams remain, that fact is amplified.
So there’s a certain appreciation Betty Wroubel has for her Pontiac Notre Dame Prep softball team, especially after her girls went out and claimed last weekend’s Division 2 regional title at Richmond High.
“You enjoy every win, but at this time of year, they are pretty special,” Wroubel said a day after her girls beat Almont High 8-4 in the final game. “The pressure at this time of the season, if you can handle it, maybe you move on. If you don’t, you probably aren’t going to. For our girls to go out and play the way they did was awesome.”
Prep took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning but trailed 4-2 after two. From there on out, it was all Fighting Irish.
The green and gold scored twice in the top of the third, three times in the fifth and once more in the sixth.
“We came into the day very confident,” Wroubel said of her team, which beat a 26-9 St. Clair High team 5-4 in eight innings in the opener. “When we’re on defensively and making the plays we should make, we’re a tough team to beat. We were doing that Saturday.”
Senior Lauren Perkins led the offensive attack in the final with three hits, including a two-run double. Hannah Antosz, Emma Cochran, Victoria Bayliss and Hanna Bullard each collected a pair of hits, while Bullard finished with three RBI.
Bayliss drove in two runs, including the game-winning RBI.
Prep (33-7-1) advanced to the D-2 quarterfinals and faced Livonia Ladywood June 10 in a game played after press time.
No matter how the rest of the year plays out, though, 2014 will be one for the record book.
“We’ve set a program record for wins in a season, and we’re one of the final eight teams still playing,” Wroubel boasted. “That’s pretty awesome.”
In other regional action:
The regional round wasn’t as kind to other local teams.
In soccer, Notre Dame Prep lost to Flint Powers Catholic 3-0 in a semifinal at Farmington Hills Harrison.
“They outdueled us in a lot of 50-50 plays,” Prep coach Jim Stachura said following the June 3 game. “They deserved the win tonight.”
Prep ends its season with an 18-3-1 record.
“We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, but they have a lot to be proud of,” Stachura added. “We’ve won a lot of soccer games the past few years.”
In baseball action, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek was eliminated from the D-1 tournament in a 5-2 loss to White Lake Lakeland in a regional semifinal.
In D-2, Notre Dame Prep fell to St. Clair 2-0 in a semifinal, and in D-4, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian lost to Potterville High 4-1 in a semifinal.
In softball, Lake Orion High fell to Romeo High 5-1 in a D-1 regional final.
The Dragons beat Troy High 5-4 in the semis.
In D-3 action, Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest fell to Riverview Gabriel Richard 5-2 in a semifinal.