Rivalries are the lifeblood of sports. Who doesn’t love the bragging rights that go along with beating your biggest rival? I know that I enjoy reminding my U of M friends that MSU has won nine of the last fifteen football games between the schools. This is usually in response to some kind of comment about how many games U of M won before WWII. Rivalries really are fun aren’t they?
The Beaverton and Gladwin softball teams renewed their rivalry last Thursday in Beaverton and those in attendance were treated to a couple of great games. For the second straight season (2019 & 2021) the teams split the pair of games. The Beavers scored three late runs in the first game to win 4-1. Gladwin scored a run in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings of game two to take that contest 4-3.
Beaverton manufactured a “classic” softball run in the first inning to take an early lead. Mady Pahl led off the inning with a bunt single and advanced to third on a passed ball. Gladwin starting pitcher Delaney Conley struck out the next two hitters before Sawyer Gerow drove her in with a two out double. Conley got out of the jam with her third strike out of the inning.
Cadence Augustine got the start for Beaverton and cruised through the first two innings yielding only a first inning single to Conley. With one out in the third Conley picked up her second hit of the game and advanced to third on an error in the outfield. She scored on a fielder’s choice ground ball off of the bat of Maddie Cantrell. Augustine retired the final two batters of the inning to keep the game tied.
The game remained 1-1 until the bottom of the sixth inning. Pahl got the one out rally started with another bunt single. She stole second base and moved to third on a bunt single by Molly Gerow. Alexis Grove followed with another bunt single driving in Pahl and moving Gerow to second base. Sawyer Gerow drove in her second and third runs of the game with another double giving the Beavers a 4-1 lead going into the seventh inning. Molly Gerow picked up the win in relief for Beaverton retiring six straight Gladwin batters after taking over in the top of the sixth inning.
Game two was another low scoring pitchers duel with Conley and Augustine getting the start again. Beaverton scored first in the top of the first inning after M. Gerow doubled and moved to second on a single by Grove. She scored on a sacrifice bunt by S. Gerow.
Gladwin took a 2-1 lead with single runs in the third and fourth innings. Conley tied the game with a homerun in the third. The Flying G’s loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth on an error and singles from Maelen Guzman and Chloe Kokotovich. After a Gladwin strikeout Addy Norman singled driving in Guzman. Augustine struck out the final two batters of the inning preventing Gladwin from blowing the game wide open.
Beaverton took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth on a walk and error and a single by Rayne Myers. The score remained the same until the bottom of the seventh. Conley led off the inning with a triple off of relief pitcher M. Gerow who had entered the game in the fourth inning. Cantrell followed with a bunt single, but Conley was held at third. Guzman picked up the Flying G’s third straight hit when she singled driving in Conley. After an intentional walk to Kokotovich loaded the bases Gerow retired the next three batters and the game moved to extra innings.
After holding the Beavers scoreless in the top of the eighth inning the Flying G’s started there half of the inning with Erin Breault on second base. Norman, the next batter sacrificed her to third. After an intentional walk to Conley Gerow got twon strikes on the next batter before a passed ball allowed Breault to score giving Gladwin the 4-3 win.
Gladwin County softball fans are fortunate to have two competitive teams to follow. Pressure packed situations can only help as the teams prepare for the state tournament. It also gives us all something to look forward to for next year. This rivalry is fun.