Southfield-Lathrup softball takes OAA Gold crown

By: Christian Davis | Southfield Sun | Published May 24, 2011

 The Southfield-Lathrup softball team gathers during a break against Bloomfield Hills Andover May 18 at home. The Chargers completed the sweep and won the OAA Gold title in the process.

The Southfield-Lathrup softball team gathers during a break against Bloomfield Hills Andover May 18 at home. The Chargers completed the sweep and won the OAA Gold title in the process.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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LATHRUP VILLAGE — First, Southfield-Lathrup second baseman Natalie Henderson threw off her protective mask.

Then she adjusted to the short fly ball, catching it over her shoulder on her way down to the ground.

With the ball securely in her mitt, the freshman quickly stood up and fired the ball home, beating the Bloomfield Hills Andover runner for the third and final out, thus giving the Chargers their division championship May 18 at home.

“I jumped in the air higher than I ever had before,” Henderson said of celebrating.

“I just ran and yelled, ‘We made it. We made it!’” senior pitcher Jessica Bryant said.

Lathrup and Andover arrived to the doubleheader both undefeated in the Oakland Activities Association Gold Division.

Lathrup won the first game 3-2 to clinch at least a share of the title, and then Henderson secured it in the 5-3 victory.

“I’m extremely happy because we really put together a pretty tough schedule for us. We played a Red Division opponent and a couple White Division opponents,” Lathrup coach Bruce Lenington said. “We really pushed our kids outside the conference for them to get ready, and not just to attain this goal, but also to get better as a team.”

Lathrup finishes the regular season 16-10 overall and 12-0 in the Gold.

Like she’s done most of the season, Bryant earned the win in both games against Andover.

“Certainly one of the stars for us today was Jessica Bryant,” the coach said. “She pitched great. She pitched 14 innings for us, and today she did a pretty good job of mixing it up.

“She’s not a dominant thrower, and that’s OK. I like watching her out there. … She has a huge heart.”

One of Bryant’s goals even before the season began was to win a division championship.

“I’ve never ran off the field with so much excitement,” she said. “We worked so hard for this and it paid off, finally.”

Lathrup has six seniors on the roster, five juniors and one freshman, who turned a championship double play.

“She made a great play right there,” Lenington said. “We were kind of on the ropes and they had good hitters coming up, and Natalie made that tough play.”

Like they’ve done all year, even after a loss, Lathrup gathered after the game and yelled, “One, two, three, champions!”

But the Chargers have another title on their minds.

“The next one now is to get in there and win our district,” Lenington said. “We’re the underdogs, and we’re not supposed to win it. But I don’t think we care a whole lot about that. We’re going to go and play hard.”

The Chargers take on Birmingham Groves at 10 a.m. June 4 at Groves in their Class A district opener.

 

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