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In the 'gauntlet,' Almont softball takes two from North Branch

With six conference games against three state-ranked opponents in less than two weeks, the Almont softball team is in the thick of its season.

The fourth-ranked Raiders split their doubleheader against No. 2 Algonac last week, losing 6-1 before winning 13-3, and last night, they topped honorable mention North Branch on the road, sweeping the series 4-2 and 10-8.

The Raiders celebrate Grace Koenig at the plate after her home run.

“We’re right in the gauntlet, is what we call it,” Johnson said. “That was a good win. We stayed tight and did what we had to do to get the win.”

The Broncos held a 1-0 lead through three innings before Grace Koenig hit solo home run over the centerfield fence. Devin Johnston then made it home on an error, giving the Raiders at 2-1 lead.

North Branch answered with a run in the top of the bottom of the fifth to tie the game with a double from Tracy Ludescher, who was sent home by Ella Swoish.

Tied at two apiece in the top of the six, Almont began to play its game. Some call it small ball, but assistant coach Ray Johnston calls it “chaos.”

“That’s what we’re known to do. That’s [Johnston’s] forte: creating chaos by putting the ball in play and forcing the defense to make plays,” Johnson said. “Sometimes that’s all it takes, just get the ball in play and make the defense make tough decisions and if you can do that, sometimes good things happen.”

After a her home run, Koenig walked to start the inning, followed by a single from Johnston and a successful bunt from Elly Schapman to load the bases. Kendall Roszczewski sent Koenig home with another bunt, securing a 3-2 lead.

Johnston hit an RBI triple in the top of the seventh for good measure and the Raiders would take game one, heading into the second with momentum. She led across both games with a 6-for-8 performance on the night with a double and a triple for two RBI. Schapman went 3-for-7 with two RBI.

Myah McLean got the win in both games as she pitched all seven innings of the first (five strikeouts, five hits) and three in the second (five strikeouts, five hits).

“It was awesome, I’m proud of her, super happy for her...We tried to get her a win against [North Branch] last year but we went into extra innings and she ended up pitching 10 innings that game, she wanted it,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to get her that win and she really pitched a great game. She was really hitting her spots, she wad determined.”

Despite the loss, North Branch’s bats came alive in game two, led by Jasmine Mauk. She went 3-for-3 at the plate, including a home run. Natasha Bickel added a homer of her own in her 2-for-4 performance.

North Branch falls to 14-7 (7-3 BWAC) and will play Yale (0-10) on Thursday and wrap up league play against Algonac (9-1) on Tuesday, May 23.

Almont improves to 17-1 on the season and stands 11-1 at the top of the BWAC. The Raiders will play Richmond (7-3) for their final league game on Monday, May 22. Should they win both games, they will clinch a share of the BWAC title.


For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli

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