Warren Regina junior short stop Leah Munson, left, makes a throw during a June 12 state quarterfinal as senior second base Meghan Berlin looks on.

Warren Regina junior short stop Leah Munson, left, makes a throw during a June 12 state quarterfinal as senior second base Meghan Berlin looks on.

Photo by Donna Agusti

Strong pitching leads Caledonia softball past Regina and into state title game

Scots avenge 2015 D-1 title game loss

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published June 14, 2018

EAST LANSING — Caledonia High senior pitcher Samantha Gehrls was in the circle the last time her team met Warren Regina late in the season — a 5-0 loss to the Saddlelites in the 2015 Division 1 state title game.

Gehrls entered the June 14 D-1 state semifinal with a world of experience and it showed, as she struck out nine and allowed just two hits in the Scots' 1-0 win over Regina.

Caledonia (28-6) will face either Howell High or Hartland High in the championship, set for 10 a.m. June 16 at Michigan State University.

Regina ends the season at 25-8.

“When I was here as a freshman, it was awesome, but it was all new and you feel some pressure on you,” Gehrls said. “There’s still the pressure, but my teammates and I have been through so much to get to this point that we wanted to make the most of this trip. I was trying to work high in the strike zone, and I was able to have a good game.”

Gehrls was in command throughout. Regina, looking for its seventh state title, had only two runners in scoring position in the game. The Saddlelites in five playoff games prior to the semifinal had scored 58 runs.

“Coming in we knew she was a good pitcher. We just couldn’t get anything going,” Saddlelites coach Diane Laffey said. “(Gehrls) has great presence on the mound. We went up and we chased some pitches because she was working high in the zone. That wasn’t our intention, but it happens sometimes.”

Gehrls, along with her strong pitching performance, drove the game’s only run across home plate. Her sacrifice hit in the bottom of the third scored sophomore infielder Emmalee Hamp, who laced a triple to center field earlier in the inning, to give Caledonia a 1-0 lead.

Scots coach Tom Kaechele praised Gehrls following the win. He said his pitcher, who will play at Grand Valley State University, is in total command of most games she pitches.

“She did a good job of hitting her spots and luckily the umpire had a high strike zone," he said. “We knew Regina had a great team — a great hitting team. (Gehrls) has been thinking about this for three years.”

The Saddlelites lose seven players to graduation, including third baseman Melina Livingston, who recorded the team’s two hits in the semifinal. Livingston will play at Penn State University.

Regina has 10 players eligible to return, including junior pitcher Marisa Muglia, who in the semifinal scattered seven hits and struck out three.

“We’ll miss the leadership the seniors brought.” said Laffey, who has led the Saddlelites to all six of their state titles. “(Livingston) after the game told the players they don’t want to have this feeling again. We’ve got some good players coming back. We’ll be competitive again next year. We’ll be OK.”