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Softball districts: Kara Postema sparks Ravenna in tough opener vs. Kent City (with brackets)

Back-to-back doubles in sixth by Postema and Addison Gillard prove difference for Bulldogs.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

MONTAGUE – Kara Postema may not want to challenge twin sister Kendra to a race anytime soon, but certainly she’s fast enough.

She was definitely clutch in Ravenna’s 3-2 nail-biting victory over Kent City in a Division 3 district softball opener Tuesday at Montague.

With the game tied at 2 in the sixth inning, Postema sliced a double inside the right-field line, then she scored on Addison Gillard’s soft-line double over the third-base bag.

Gillard closed out the game in the seventh to earn the win in relief and send Ravenna (27-6) to Saturday’s 10 a.m. district semifinals against league foe North Muskegon.

“I was just thinking, ‘I need to do something to start something.’ We needed to get going,” said Postema, the junior cleanup hitter, who typically starts at catcher but also moves around the infield depending on who is pitching.

“I was going as fast as I could,” a smiling Postema said when she was asked about hustling around third base and beating a throw to the plate with a slide.

Postema’s sister is a state finals-qualifying sprinter for Ravenna’s track team. Kendra Postema is set to compete in the 100- and 200-meter dashes in Saturday’s Division 3 state finals at Kent City.

Kara Postema moves around the bases pretty well, but she can’t keep up with her twin in sheer speed.

“It’s not even a competition,” she said with a grin.

Ravenna junior Kara Postema poses for a portrait after Ravenna’s 3-2 victory over Kent City in a Division 3 district softball opener Tuesday, May 31, 2022, in Montague, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Ravenna got off to a quick start against Kent City, which finishes with a 20-6 record and shared the Central State Activities Association Silver Division title with Division 4 third-ranked Holton.

After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first, the Bulldogs went ahead 2-0 on freshman Emma Herremans’ triple and Postema’s groundout.

Kent City junior Jacee Hoffman kept Ravenna’s potent lineup off-balance most of the way, however. The Eagles tied it with two out in the fourth on a two-run fielding error.

Ravenna defeated Kent City earlier in the season, 9-1 on April 20, but postseason play is a different game. It’s win or see your season come to an abrupt end.

“I think offensively, yes, I think we were a little tight. We didn’t hit the way we normally hit, that’s for sure,” Ravenna coach Dave Sherman said. “That pitcher pitched a really good game, though. She hit her spots, moved in and out, kept us off-balance. She did a good job.”

Hoffman limited Ravenna to four hits while striking out two and walking none. The Bulldogs put the ball in play but could not seem to square up the ball as they are accustomed.

Ravenna’s Liberty Willick tries to beat out a bunt against Kent City during a Division 3 district softball opener Tuesday, May 31, 2022, in Montague, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Meanwhile, the Gillard sisters did the job in the circle for Ravenna. Junior Emma Gillard started and worked the first four innings, as she allowed two hits and struck out six. Freshman Addison Gillard surrendered two hits and struck out four in three innings of work.

All six of Ravenna’s losses have come against schools with strong softball traditions and much larger enrollments: Two against Wayland and Oakridge, and one each to Grand Haven and Rockford. Testing themselves against those types of opponents benefited the Bulldogs on Tuesday, however, in Sherman’s opinion.

“This was the kind of game that we faced every inning against the Waylands, the Oakridges, the Rockfords … the Grand Havens – we played that kind of game every inning against them,” he said. “Yeah, I think it’s huge.”

Junior Lexie Bowers doubled and singled to pace Kent City offensively.

The Eagles have a young team, similar to the Bulldogs, so the future should be bright for them as well.

“I thought we battled really well,” Kent City first-year coach Don Todd said. “We played them earlier in the season … and they beat us 9-1 and they were way above us. We told them that we were just going to work and work and we found out that we drew ’em here and we competed.

“It was fantastic. Fun game. The game wasn’t too big for the girls and they battled really hard.”

Ravenna now sets its sights on North Muskegon, which knocked the Bulldogs out of the state tournament in the district finals last season, 4-2. This was after Ravenna swept North Muskegon in West Michigan Conference action.

Ravenna took two from North Muskegon in conference play again this season, 16-0 and 13-3 on April 19, but the Norse are on a bit of a roll of late.

Postema said the ’Dogs will be ready.

“I think we’re going to be more comfortable going into the next few games,” she said.

“We’re taking it all. We’re going for it.”

In this file photo, Andrea Romero is shown during Oakridge’s sweep of Ravenna Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Muskegon, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

OAKRIDGE 2, SPRING LAKE 1: Andrea Romero’s sixth-inning single drove in the winning run for Oakridge in a Division 2 district opener against host Spring Lake, which had tied the game in the top half of the inning on Avery Flynn’s home run.

Romero finished with two hits to lead the Eagles, who will face Coopersville in Saturday’s 10 a.m. district semifinals. Oakridge scored the game’s first run in the fourth on a walk, sacrifice bunt and throwing error, and a suicide bunt. Brooklyn Galdeen earning the win for Oakridge, as she allowed three hits, struck out nine and walked one.

In this file photo, Hart competes against Whitehall on Thursday, May 5, 2022, in Whitehall, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

HART 11, HESPERIA 10: Skylar Smith hit for the cycle, completed by a game-tying home run in the seventh inning, and Makayla Rockwell’s grounder scored the winning for Hart in a Division 3 district-opening thriller at Hesperia.

Hart (17-13) will face league opponent Mason County Central at 10 a.m. Saturday in the district semifinals at Mason County Central.

Graphics by Amy Yonkman | CatchMark

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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