Warren Regina softball coach Diane Laffey and senior third base Melina Livingston celebrate a play during a June 9 regional game. The Saddlelites beat Garden City High 13-0 June 12 in a Division 1 state quarterfinal.

Warren Regina softball coach Diane Laffey and senior third base Melina Livingston celebrate a play during a June 9 regional game. The Saddlelites beat Garden City High 13-0 June 12 in a Division 1 state quarterfinal.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

Regina softball rolls into state semifinals

Saddlelites pound Garden City in quarters

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published June 12, 2018

DETROIT — After two comeback wins helped the Warren Regina softball team move on to the Division 1 state quarterfinals, the Saddlelites made sure they would need no late-inning drama in advancing to the state semifinals with a 13-0, five inning win over Garden City High June 12 at Wayne State University.

Regina (23-6) will face Caledonia High in a D-1 state semifinal at 10 a.m. June 14 at Michigan State University. The D-1 title game is at 10 a.m. June 16 at MSU.

The Saddlelites are two wins away from the program’s seventh state championship.

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” Regina coach Diane Laffey said. “The number one team (Clarkston High) and number two team (Anchor Bay) are out. It’s wide open.”

Errors hurt Garden City (17-12). Of the 13 runs the Cougars allowed, only three were earned.

“Defensively, we weren’t at our best today,” Garden City coach Barry Patterson said. “We’ve had games like this at points this season.”

The Saddlelites used a Cougars miscue to take an early 1-0 lead, as senior third base Melina Livingston scored from third on a passed ball.

Another Garden City error kept Regina alive in the top of the third, as freshman infielder Miranda Nicholas with two outs hit a shot to third that was misplayed, allowing her to reach base. Junior shortstop Leah Munson then stepped into the box and smashed a double off the center field wall, scoring Nicholas to give the Saddlelites a 2-0 lead.

The Cougars put some pressure on the Saddlelites in the bottom of the fourth. Garden City pitcher April Rudolph walks to start the inning, marking the first time the Cougars leadoff hitter reached base. Junior infielder Aubrey Boston followed with a single to center field, giving Garden City runners on first and second with no outs. The Cougars could not capitalize, though, as a slow roller to third forced and out and held both runners, followed by a fielder’s choice and a strikeout from junior hurler Marisa Muglia to end the threat.

“(Muglia) started out great was pitching well until that inning,” Laffey said. “The game was pretty tight at that point and we felt we could be in a little bit of trouble but she battled out of it.

Regina, down 9-6 late in a regional final and 4-0 early in a regional final, did the majority of its damage in the fifth.

Nicholas started it with an infield hit that scored pinch runner Alana LaRue to give the Saddlelites a 3-0 lead. LaRue was in for sophomore catcher Sam Rhodes, who reached on an error. Junior pitcher Marisa Muglia, who in a complete-game win allowed three hits and struck out six, helped her own cause with a bases clearing double to left field that put Regina up 6-0. Senior second base Meghan Berlin added to the damage in the fifth, slamming a double off the left field wall that scored Muglia to give the Saddlelites a 7-0 advantage. Rhodes later in the inning got a two-out single to center field to score Berlin to push the Regina lead to 8-0. Livingston would follow with an RBI hit to score senior outfielder Katie Bieszke to make it 9-0. Nicholas reached base for a fourth time and brought LaRue home to give the Saddlelites a 10-0 lead. Regina would add three more in the inning, giving the team a 13-0 lead.

The Saddlelites, looking for their first state title since 2015, in the fifth scored 11 runs on nine hits.

“We faced some really good pitching (in the regional round), so I thought we’d be able to get to them,” Laffey said. “We just started hitting the heck out of the ball.”

“Early on, we were OK,” Patterson said. “You can’t let the floodgates open like that. Credit to Regina, though, because they did a great job hitting the ball.”

Laffey following the game paid Nicholas a great compliment. The longtime, decorated coach called Nicholas the best freshman the program has had since Nikki Nemitz, who led Regina to three straight state titles from 2004 to 2006.

Nicholas said she just goes out and tries to do what she can to help the team win. She said she’s hopeful the team can continue its run.

“We’ve got some seniors who were up the last time the team won a state title,” Nicholas said. “We just want to do that again.”