By: John Raffel
Swan Valley softball falls in D2 quarters
Saginaw Swan Valley coach Thomas Kennelly’s team’s bid for a Division 2 state softball title fell short in the quarterfinal rounds in the hands of a sophomore pitcher, who has already committed to the University of Wisconsin. Escanaba stymied the Vikings in a 9-1 quarterfinal victory.
“They’re better than we are,” Kennelly said. “They’re not 9-1 better than we are. For the second year in a row, we didn’t play very well, defensively I’m talking about. They did have a good game plan. They were going to crowd the plate. Their coach watched us play a couple of times. My pitcher (Callie Burgess), who had a good career, pitches in and out. He has his batters stand almost right on the plate. In one inning, in the process, she hit three batters. She had precisely hit one all year and they didn’t move at all.
“We didn’t make a couple of plays we needed to make,” Kennelly continued. “I had them for six hits and us for four. They hit the ball really well. Their pitcher (Gabrianna Salo) struck out 12. Callie struck out eight. It just snowballed again on us. This group probably over achieved greatly. I graduated seven starters last year and four of them were all-state players. This was a group of girls that came up behind them. Besides two, none of these other girls play much as juniors. We had a great year. We could play Escanaba 10 times and they would beat us nine. We didn’t play very well.”
Swan Valley finished at 32-8. Burgress is 88-11 for her career. Junior Mallory Eurich and senior Emma Bierlein were the team’s top hitters.
“We won our conference again, that’s nine out of 10 years,” Kennelly said. “We’ve won every district since 1999 in those 10 years. We’ve gone to the Final Four a couple of times and some quarterfinals … It’s been a pretty good run. This group in particular overachieved.”