MIDLAND – The Heat got the regular season off to a good start last weekend going 5-1 and winning the National Softball Association State Championship Tournament. Friday’s first game was a 9-8 walk off win over the Michigan Angels. The Heat entered the top of the last inning with a 7-2 lead, but six Angel runs gave them the lead entering the bottom of the inning.
Grace Simpson led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a single by Katie Chinavare. Rachel Mecca drove her in with a sacrifice fly to right field. An error and hit batter loaded the bases for the Heat setting the stage for Roz Hernandez. Her fly ball to right brought Chinavare home giving the Heat the win. Chinavare had three hits in the game; Mecca had two hits and two RBIs. Mecca pitched three and a third innings; Simpson pitched the final two thirds of an inning to pick up the win in relief.
Game two on Friday afternoon against the Line Drive Express was another nail biter for the Heat. They again found themselves trailing entering the bottom of the fifth inning. Grace Chinavare led off with a single and scored on a triple by Katie Chinavare. Katie later scored on an Express error giving the Heat their second straight walk off win.
Simpson got the start pitching two innings. Mecca pitched the final three innings to get the win. Grace Chinavare had two hits. Katie Chinavare, Maddy Bass and Hernandez each had RBIs.
Mecca also got the win Saturday afternoon when the Heat beat the Drillers 7-0. She gave up two hits and struck out two in the complete game shutout. Simpson had three hits in the game. Katie Chinavare and Mae Guzman had two each. Guzman’s hit were both doubles and she also had two RBIs in the game.
The Heat played the Caledonia Chaos three times on Sunday. An 8-0 Heat victory in the morning sent the Chaos into the losers bracket and gave the Heat a break. Whoever came out of the losers bracket would have to beat them twice to claim the championship. Mecca got the win while seven different Heat batters collected hits. Guzman had two RBIs.
The Chaos won their losers bracket game giving them another shot at the Heat. This time they came out on top 12-10. Both teams were hot at the plate with the Chaos picking up 17 hits in the game while the Heat had 12 of their own. Simpson, Katie Chinavare, Hernandez, and Grace Chinavare all had two hits. Hernandez and Katie Chinavare both had 3 RBIs. The loss forced the Heat into a third game with the Chaos with the state championship on the line.
The Heat’s bats exploded for 15 hits in the championship game as they ran away with it by the score of 19-2. Simpson and Grace Chinavare had three hits. Guzman, Bass and Abby Manges each had two. Katie Chinavare and Bass both had three RBIs. Alaina Neubecker and Mecca picked up three walks apiece. Mecca got the win striking out two while giving up five hits.
“The girls were very tough defensively all weekend long,” said Coach Ryan Simpson. “Our bats were on fire when they needed to be.” The NSA State Championship qualifies the Heat for the World Series at the end of July in Northwest Indiana. They will face 50 teams from Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri.