Lutheran North softball battles past Bishop Foley to win first CHSL tournament crown

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published May 20, 2019

 Macomb Lutheran North softball players and coaches celebrate following a May 20 win over Madison Heights Bishop Foley in the Catholic High School League C-D tournament final.

Macomb Lutheran North softball players and coaches celebrate following a May 20 win over Madison Heights Bishop Foley in the Catholic High School League C-D tournament final.

Photo by Jason Carmel Davis

DETROIT — Heading into the May 20 Catholic High School League C-D Division softball tournament final, the teams from Macomb Lutheran North and Madison Heights Bishop Foley were quite familiar with each other.

The teams split four regular-season meetings, and Ventures coach John Ploskonka said the game would come down to who made the first hiccup.

“They know them, and we know us,” Ploskonka said. “So it just comes down to execution.”

The Mustangs, in their first CHSL C-D tournament final, ended up making just a few more plays in winning 8-6. The win gave Lutheran North its first CHSL tournament title. The program joined the conference in 2013.

“This is special,” Mustangs coach Duane Anger said. “At the start of the year, I said we wanted to finish a little better than we did last season, and we’ve far exceeded my expectations.”

Anger’s praise for his team’s performance comes in part because of its youth. Seven freshmen this season have made major contributions for the Mustangs.

Bishop Foley, in the C-D final for the second straight year, got things started with two runs in the top of the third inning. A double to right field from pitcher Brooke Imrick drove in catcher Elle Laurencelle to give the Ventures a 1-0 lead. Infielder Mallory Johnson followed and reached on a fielder’s choice that drove in a run to put Bishop Foley up 2-0.

Lutheran North, with a record of 20-11 after the win, caught fire in the bottom of the fourth, taking a 4-2 lead on RBIs from utility player Lauryn Rhodea, outfielder Julia Zauel and infielder Reese Shock. Shock drove in two runs with a double to left field.

Bishop Foley in its half of the fifth tied the game on a 2-run blast over the left field wall from catcher Melanie Moore.

The Mustangs punched back in the bottom of the fifth, notching its second straight 4-running inning. Infielder Emma Shannon doubled to left field to drive in a run. Two batters later, utility player Elizabeth Kandt lined a single to center field, plating 2 runs. Catcher Abby Thoms followed with a single to right to drive in a score, giving Lutheran North an 8-4 edge heading to the sixth inning.

The Ventures in the sixth got a bit closer, cutting the Mustangs advantage to 8-6 on a 2-run double from infielder Kayla Moore.

Lutheran North sat Bishop Foley in order in the seventh to seal the win.

The Mustangs got three RBIs from freshman (Shannon and Kandt). Freshman hurler Cecilia Schihl got the complete-game win.

“This is just a group of players who love the game and who love to come out and compete,” Anger said. “We’re very familiar with Bishop Foley, and we knew that if their pitcher (Imrick) got ahead in the count, she likes to go outside, so I told the girls to just hit it to right field. We got a lot of hits to right field.

“This is special for me. I’ve coached a lot of teams, but to do this with this group is special.”

Mustangs freshman infielder Reagan Ruatto echoed her coach’s sentiments.

“We know we’re young, but we’ve got a lot of good players on this team, and that showed today,” Ruatto said. “We’re excited about playing together another three years.”

Bishop Foley made five errors to Lutheran North’s two.

Ploskonka said he’s disappointed for his team, which, like the Mustangs, has its share of youth.

“They play hard. They’re good players. They’ve battled all year,” Ploskonka said. “This was one of our goals, now we’ll move on to the districts and hopefully a good showing in the playoffs.”

Lutheran North’s next game is against Center Line High in a Division 2 district semifinal at 10 a.m. June 1 at Madison Heights Lamphere.

Bishop Foley opens the D-3 playoffs against Detroit Pershing in a district semifinal at noon June 1 at home.

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