District title drought comes to crashing halt as North Farmington softball team marches on

By: Mike Moore | Farmington Press | Published June 7, 2011

 Moments after capturing the first district title in program history, the North Farmington softball team wasn’t shy about celebrating with the trophy.

Moments after capturing the first district title in program history, the North Farmington softball team wasn’t shy about celebrating with the trophy.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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FARMINGTON — They’ve been in this position before, more times than coach Dave Brubaker cares to admit.

They’ve seen this game play out — a district title an arm’s length away in one moment and then gone for an entire postseason in the next.

There has been disappointment, heartbreak and plenty of frustration — bitter endings to brilliant seasons where it seemed taking that next step for this proud softball program just wasn’t meant to be.

And then came a hot and humid Saturday afternoon.

Then came the fifth inning of an otherwise tight game.

Then came one double, and another and then another.

The lead had gone from two to six in an instant, and years of aggravation were replaced by elation.

“It’s about time,” a parent joked from the bleachers while clapping.

Indeed it was.

“It feels even better than I thought it would,” Brubaker said after his North Farmington softball team captured its first district crown in program history with a 7-1 win against Farmington High June 4. “This is such a huge deal for this team and this program. Anything short of this would have been a letdown. But these girls battled and found a way.”

Brubaker forced a smile earlier in the season when talking about the numerous chances he’s had to do this in his 24 years with the Raiders only to find a new way to fall one step short.

There was no need to force any smiles on this day.

His team, 30-3 at the end of the regular season, entered the playoffs as the odds-on favorite to run away with the Division 1 district crown.

Then came the first scare, a 4-2 deficit in the seventh inning of a May 31 pre-district game against Northville High.

Somehow the Raiders rallied, scoring three runs, and escaped with a 5-4 win.

The semifinal was no easier.

Farmington Hills Mercy jumped out to a 3-0 lead, bringing the Raiders’ demons of years past screaming back and creating a little “nervousness,” as junior pitcher Katie Severson later admitted.

Somehow, they rallied again, erasing the three-run deficit and hanging on for a 4-3 victory.

“I really don’t think it’s hit any of us yet,” Severson said moments after the win. “To be part of this and to make history for this program, I don’t even know what to say. … We all knew this could be the team that did it, and we all felt like this was going to be the year, but any day, any team can pull an upset.”

There would be no upset here.

Stephanie Volpe had her Falcons ready to go, and for the better part of the afternoon, they hung right with North Farmington and had a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

“We just couldn’t get as many big hits as they did,” Volpe conceded after the loss, one that ended her season with a 20-9 record. “I’m very proud of these girls. We played well, but we lost to a very good team.”

It is a team that now marches on uncharted territory, preparing for a June 11 regional semifinal against either Walled Lake Northern at Novi High.

In years past, the district tournament would have been the final meeting for the Raiders — a few hugs would have been exchanged and a few tears would have been shed before the offseason began.

“I told them before the playoffs started that they would determine when we were done,” Brubaker said. “Its not up to me or any of the coaches, or anything else. It’s up to them, the mindset they have and the way they want to play the game. When they’re ready to be done, we will be.”

They aren’t ready yet.

In other district final action
The Farmington baseball team had its season come to a close in a 10-6 loss to Novi Detroit Catholic Central in the D-1 district final.

The Falcons upended Novi 8-6 in eight innings in the first game of the day, and despite falling behind Catholic Central 4-0, pulled to within 4-3 before falling behind 7-3 and then fought back to make it 7-6.

The Shamrocks answered in the fourth inning, though, with three more runs and never looked back.

Farmington ended the season 16-22.

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