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State semifinal-bound Holton softball team traveling, and winning, like rock stars

From the regional round to Tuesday’s wild quarterfinal win over Beal City, Red Devils have logged nearly 600 miles.

Holton defeated Beal City, 12-9, in a Division 4 softball state quarterfinal game Tuesday, June 11, 2024, at Central Michigan University’s Margo Jonker Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Mich. (Courtesy of Dan Packard)

Jayson Robins’ Facebook post says it all: 572 miles in 4 days for 3 softball wins = FINAL 4 BOUND!!

“It’s like we’re on tour. We’ve drove, like, 600 miles since Saturday,” Holton softball coach Kirk Younts said about his red-hot squad, which rallied past Beal City, 12-9, in Tuesday’s Division 4 state quarterfinals at Central Michigan University’s Margo Jonker Stadium. It was the Red Devils’ 16th straight win.

“We’ll drive a few hundred more (if that’s what it takes).”

Holton has one more venue to hit, Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium, where the fifth-ranked Red Devils (28-12-1) will take on seventh-ranked Hillman (40-3) in a Division 4 state semifinal game at 3 p.m. Friday. This is Holton’s first semifinal appearance since 2021.

The Holton/Hillman winner will take on the Unionville-Sebewaing/Mendon victor in Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. state championship game at Secchia Stadium. Younts and the Red Devils are making their fifth final four trip in the head coach’s 10 years at the helm.

Holton has come a long way this season and in more ways than one. The Red Devils’ tough schedule, facing good pitching, has prepared them for these big moments.

Meanwhile, they’ve certainly logged the miles, especially in their state tournament run. In districts, the Red Devils made an approximate three-hour roundtrip drive to Marion. In regionals, they traveled to Frankfort — a four-hour roundtrip journey — twice in three days. After driving up to Frankfort Saturday, rain forced the postponement of the games so they headed back up there on Monday.

With a very short turnaround time between Monday’s regional and Tuesday’s quarterfinal, Holton made the approximate three-hour roundtrip to CMU.

Travelers may experience jetlag flying from time zone to time zone. Holton did not fly to Mount Pleasant, but the Red Devils may have been feeling the effects of the extensive travel Tuesday as they fell into a 4-0 deficit in the second inning against Beal City, which is about 15 minutes from CMU.

Holton answered with four runs in the third, setting up a wild game the rest of the way. The Red Devils erupted for five more runs in the fifth for a 9-4 lead, then Beal City answered with five in the top of the sixth to knot the score.

Holton had an answer yet again, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth for a 12-9 lead.

Grace Thompsen’s bases-clearing triple keyed Holton’s four-run third inning. Ryann Robin’s home run ignited the Red Devils’ five-run fifth. Run-scoring singles by Thompsen and Sydney McCormick highlighted Holton’s three-run sixth.

“It was just back and forth both ways. Beal City could hit good – they’re a good-hitting team,” Younts said. “We just went back and forth. We would put a rally together and they would do the same thing.

“We just were able to do it through our order. We had a bunch of kids throughout the lineup that contributed in all kinds of different ways that sometimes they didn’t (during the season) but they stepped up big today.”

Thompson finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs scored. Robins scored three runs.

Kenzie Greene scored two runs and she also picked up the pitching win in relief of Robins. Greene allowed five runs (only one earned) on four hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in six innings of work.

“Emma Monette, she’s our seventh hitter, she drove one to the left-center field fence. She got a double. Grace Thompsen hit a three-run triple. Ryann Robins hit a bomb home run over the center field fence,” Younts said. “Sydney McCormick had a big hit in the last inning to score a run or two. We laid down a couple good bunts to move the runners around.

“I mean, it was just an all-around good team effort today.”

Photos courtesy of Dan Packard

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

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