Softball: Coe-Brown tops John Stark to win first championship since 2015

  • The Coe-Brown softball team poses with its championship trophy after it beat John Stark, 6-1, in the Division II title game on Saturday. MATT PARKER / Monitor staff

  • Hailey Pruett jumps for joy after her two-run triple that extended Coe-Brown’s lead in the fourth inning during the Division II softball championship. The Bears beat the John Stark Generals, 6-1, on Saturday. MATT PARKER / Monitor staff

  • John Stark coach Gerry Morin calls in the Generals’ infield during the fourth inning of the Division II state championship game against Coe-Brown. The Generals lost, 6-1, on Saturday. MATT PARKER / Monitor staff

  • Olivia Hargreaves (right) shares a conversation with catcher Ruby Dykstra during the Division II state championship game. John Stark lost to Coe-Brown, 6-1, on Saturday. MATT PARKER / Monitor staff

 Monitor staff
Published: 6/12/2022 1:17:55 AM

PLYMOUTH – A routine ground ball, the throw to first, the final out.

The championship.

Coe-Brown’s celebration started in the outfield with a collection of hugs and then a spring toward the infield where it turned into an unofficial screaming contest.

It was a celebration that’s been in the making since the beginning of the season, but it’s one that will never end as Coe-Brown defeated John Stark in the Division II state championship, 6-1.

The Bears and the Generals engaged in a defensive standoff in the game’s first three innings as pitchers Madison DeCota and Olivia Hargreaves retired the first 17 combined batters for Coe-Brown and John Stark, respectively.

Something had to give however, the figurative dam had to burst and the Bears’ senior outfield Ava Fitzgerald’s bunt in the bottom of the third foreshadowed an impressive offensive front.

It started with Haile Comeau who reached second courtesy of two fielding errors by the Generals. She moved to third after a sacrifice fly from DeCota and then scored the first run on a passed ball. Lily Veneroni hit a line drive into right field and Courtney Thomas’ infield fly ball dropped for a single as the Bears had two runners on. An error at first had Jayden Porter reach the bag and also brought in the second run of the game.

Hailey Pruett’s shot into deep right field for her two-run triple solidified Coe-Brown’s offensive prowess in the game as it held a 4-0 lead and all it took was seeing Hargreaves a few times to figure it out.

“We were expecting a lot harder and faster pitches, and it was softer so we definitely had to get used to that,” Pruett said.

Pruett’s hit wasn’t the final piece of production, however. Fitzgerald was walked after a wild pitch and Pruett took home to extend the lead. During the next at-bat, Emma Broadstone hit an RBI triple for the emphatic sixth run and the Bears never lost their lead.

Similarly to their semifinal game against Kingswood on Wednesday, the Bears built their lead early and dominantly. But the difference between Wednesday and the championship game? They never let up defensively.

DeCota and co. went three-up, three-down in the following frame, and then in the sixth, the Generals threatened with a run of their own but ended the inning with a runner on base.

“It really is one game at a time and we told them we’ve got to play the outs game,” Coe-Brown’s Dave Allis said. “We have so many runs and they only have so many outs. It’s like an equation.”

Coe-Brown seemingly had every answer for every variable and never wavered in snapping its seven-year title drought.

No. 1 Coe-Brown (19-1) played No. 3 John Stark (16-3) in the regular season and it was its only loss, a 4-3 decision in mid-May.

John Stark’s few errors burden the brilliance of the game it did have. Hargreaves was on point and struck out the first four batters she saw. Senior outfield Gracie Bolduc tirelessly ran the length of center field and caught fly ball after fly ball, but those errors in the fourth stung too severely.

The good thing for programs is that a bulk of their talent returns next season, including aces DeCota and Hargreaves. That youth for John Stark is something that excites coach Gerry Morin and he’s confident that the Generals’ success this season wasn’t a fluke.

“We are young, but we’re going to come back strong next year.”

Coe-Brown’s win over John Stark now gives the program its fifth championship in school history and with nine of its 12 players returning, it very well could see the Generals in this spot a year from now.

But before another trophy is hoisted, this year’s party will continue.

Matt Parker bio photo

Matt Parker is a sports reporter at the Monitor and started in August 2021. He is an Ohio native and relishes being from the Buckeye state. A proud graduate of Ohio University located in Athens, Ohio, he served as the sports editor for the student-run newspaper, The Post, from 2019-20. When not at a game or chasing around a coach, you can catch him playing his guitars or looking for the next Peanuts memorabilia piece to add in his growing collection.

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