Ready for regionals

St. Joseph’s Courtney Farrish and the Bears softball team face No. 3-ranked Howell in regionals today.

St. Joseph is in new territory after winning its first Division 1 district softball title. Now the Bears are hoping for another first – a Div. 1 regional championship.

St. Joseph (23-7) plays host Howell in a regional semifinal at noon today. Gull Lake and Grand Ledge play in the other semifinal at 10 a.m.

The Bears won two Div. 2 district titles in 2015 and 2016, but defeated Mattawan, 6-4, in a district championship host by the Wildcats for their first Div. 1 crown. Now they face another tough host in No. 3-ranked Howell.

“It’s great anytime you are playing right now. It’s a great feeling,” St. Joseph coach Joe Spitale said. “Mattawan has been a dominant team in Division 1, so it’s great to get a district championship.

“(Howell) is a tough team with great pitchers and a very good lineup. Anytime you are playing a team right now, they are winners. You prepare the best you can and hope things will come out the right way.”

Courtney Farrish and Taylor Garey have been key contributors at the plate. Farrish leads the team with 18 home runs on the season and Garey has 12. 

Olivia McQueen is another key batter. She hit a two-run homer, lifting the Bears over the Wildcats on their way to district victory.

“We’ve had some timely hitting,” Spitale said. “That’s the way it’s been all year for us in big games.”

In their last two games, the Bears have counted on their defense. Pitcher Isabella Rothrock was key against Mattawan, giving up only a three-run homer.

“Rothrock has come a long way as our pitcher,” Spitale said. “Our pitching and our defense have been pretty good down the stretch. We know we aren’t going to score a lot of runs this deep in the season, so our defense has to (keep) stepping up.”

Division 2 at Edwardsburg

Lakeshore (29-10) did just enough to beat host South Haven 3-1 for a district title on Monday.

The No. 4-ranked Lancers will play Olivet in a regional semifinal at noon, and should they advance, they will face the winner between Vicksburg and Thornapple Kellogg.

Sierra Ciesielski had several key hits, including two singles and a double. Isabella Najera, Meghan Younger and Shelby Grau each had hits for RBIs.

Laney Mead and Najera split time in the circle to keep South Haven from scoring after the second inning.

Division 3 at Coloma

Defending Division 3 state champion Coloma hosts its own regional.

The Comets (23-12) face Delton Kellogg. A win would have them face the winner between last year’s Div. 4 state champion Centreville and Schoolcraft.

Megan Keonigshof is Coloma’s go-to pitcher. In Monday’s district, she struck out nine batters in a semifinal game against Bloomingdale. She was also the winning pitcher in a 2-0 victory over Watervliet in the championship game.

Keonigshof also produced at the plate, finishing the day with three singles, a double and a triple.

Division 4 at Gobles

Lawrence opens with a tough draw against No. 2-ranked Kalamazoo Christian at 10 a.m. River Valley (30-9), ranked No. 6, plays Colon in the other semifinal.

The Mustangs won their fifth straight district title with a 2-0 win over Bridgman.

Emma Springer hit a two-run homer early, and River Valley’s defense made sure to keep the Bees off the board.

Madison Vollman led from the circle. She struck out nine batters and had zero walks on four hits. She also worked her way out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth inning.

Contact: acrider@TheHP.com, 932-0371, @HPAaronCrider