Softball Splits With #1 Clarkston

Photo by Dan Fenner
Photo by Dan Fenner

By Dan Fenner for the Oakland Press - Accessed at http://www.theoaklandpress.com/sports/20180517/oxford-hands-clarkston-a-loss-but-wolves-still-win-oaa-red

OXFORD >> With the Oakland Activities Association Red Division championship on the line, two of the state's best teams, Clarkston and Oxford, took turns conquering the other to produce a doubleheader split Thursday.

First, Oxford handed No. 1-ranked Clarkston its first loss of the season with a 3-0 shutout in the early game. The Wolves responded in the nightcap, however, with an 11-1 victory in five innings to capture the division title by virtue of the Wildcats' one previous OAA Red defeat.

PHOTO GALLERY FROM CLARKSTON VS. OXFORD

Having been shut out in the first game and fallen behind 1-0 in Game 2, Clarkston's Paige Blevins changed the trajectory of the day with one swing. In the bottom of the first inning, Blevins crushed a grand slam over the centerfield wall to give the Wolves a 4-1 lead. "The grand slam meant everything. It just broke the ice and took the pressure off the girls. You could see them relax," Clarkston coach Don Peters said.

The Wolves' bats remained hot and capitalized on a series of defensive miscues by Oxford to put the game away quickly and force a split.

"We didn't have any defense going in Game 2," Wildcats coach Ken Allen said. "When you give a team with those kinds of hitters extra chances, it will come back to bite you."

Clarkston (30-1) scored five runs in the fourth inning and two more to bring about the end of the game in the fifth. Olivia Warrington recorded the win with five strong innings for the Wolves.

In Game 1, Oxford's senior pitcher Kaitlyn Bean was dominant with nine strikeouts in a complete game shutout performance.

"She was able to put her pitches in different spots pretty consistently. That really helped out. She would change their eye level and go inside and outside," Allen said of Bean.

The Wildcats (17-3) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and tacked on an insurance run in the sixth, allowing Bean to do the rest of the heavy-lifting.

"Bean pitched phenomenal in the first game," Peters said.

Early in the doubleheader, a line drive hit off the bat sliced into the Clarkston dugout, striking a player in the head and requiring an ambulance be called to the scene. The player received medical treatment and was evaluated for a concussion, but later returned to watch the remainder of the games after being cleared, Peters said.

The two teams will meet again in a district semifinal playoff game in two weeks.

"It's a shame that two teams as good as both of us are will have to play in the first game of districts, but it's going to be a war again," Peters said.