Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 12, 2013

Panthers come up short against Rogers City


---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A lot of times when a team loses 14-2, it's assumed the losing team played poorly.

Not so in this case.

Rogers City beat Frankfort 14-2 in Tuesday's Division 4 quarterfinal game at Traverse City West, a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.

"That team is really, really good," Panthers coach Mike Thompson said of the Hurons. "They're talented everywhere and hit the ball like crazy. If we played them 100 games, I'm not sure we would beat them one time. We would have to play our best game on our best day. They might have to leave a couple kids at home, maybe a couple get lost on the way to the ballpark.

"When you look at it defensively, we didn't make many mistakes. I think we may have made one error. Other than that, they're crushing the ball. What are you going to do? I wouldn't fault our girls at all. I thought they did everything they could do. None of our kids struck out. We put the ball in play and made them make plays, which they did."

No strikeouts and only one error is generally a pretty good recipe for a win. But that didn't matter when going up against Rogers City's hot bats.

"We've been hitting all year," Rogers City coach Karl Grambau said. "Every team we've played has told us, 'You're the best hitting team we've seen,' and coach Thompson said it, too."

The Hurons batted around in the first inning to set the tone, establishing an 8-1 lead.

"Hats off to Frankfort," Grambau said. "They had a great season. They had a really good team, and we just jumped on them early and it propelled us."

Rogers City pitcher Nikki Radke didn't strike out any Panthers batters, but she kept the ball in the park and let her defense do the work. Aleah Hunt had one strikeout for Frankfort.

"I don't know who is going to beat that team," Thompson said.

"I'm proud of the kids. They played unbelievable. To get to this point doesn't happen by accident. We earned the chance to be here. I'm proud of everything we did. You have some tears from some kids who are done, but they're not disappointed in the way they played. They just ran into a team that was just better."

Frankfort — which won its seventh straight district crown this year — managed four hits in the game, including an RBI single by Keelan Kelly in the fifth inning. Aleah Hunt singled and scored a run, Anna Hunt doubled and scored and Hannah Nostrandt singled in the fourth. The Panthers finish 24-15.

Rogers City (33-6) won a school-record 35 games last year and will have a chance to tie that mark with a state title.

"We've got to get two more wins to tie the record," Grambau said. "That's what the girls keep saying."

The Hurons took advantage of dreary spring weather and stayed inside, working almost exclusively on hitting. It showed Tuesday, and the team now has 25 home runs on the season after belting one against Frankfort.

"We don't do anything but hit in practice when we're inside," Grambau said. "And we were inside until May first."

Rogers City moves on to face Kalamazoo Christian, which defeated Gobles 15-5. Grambau said he wants to see Grosse Pointe Liggett if they reach the finals in order to get a rematch with a team that beat them 4-2 earlier this season.