Whiteford trio give West great start in All-Star softball game
Kirk Davis hadn’t expected it.
But it turned into a perfect homage.
The Milan coach was scrambling to put together a roster minutes before the scheduled start of the Monroe County All-Star softball game at Vince Rossi Field in Monroe Monroe on Wednesday night.
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When he was done, he realized Whiteford’s Ana VanBrandt had been missed.
Rather than tear it all up and start over, he put her on top.
This meant that the first three hitters on the West team roster were players from Whiteford.
This made sense as Whiteford was the last team to show up for the Monroe County area in the state tournament. The Bobcats reached the Division 4 State Finals before falling to Unionville-Sebewaing on Saturday.
Many in the crowd thought Davis was honoring Whiteford by letting the three Bobcats start the All-Star Game.
It was only after the West had won an 8-5 victory that the truth came out.
“It was an accident,” said Berlynn Keller of Whiteford, third at bat. “He forgot Ana when he was doing combat training.”
VanBrandt normally bats No. 9 in the batting order for Whiteford with sophomore sister Aly leading. Ana went from bottom to top.
“I told her I mistook her for her sister,” Davis joked.
Everything worked for the East.
VanBrandt got to the goal twice, had a hit and scored two runs.
Keller was a key hitter for the West. She went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run.
She thought all three Whiteford girls had an advantage after playing in the national final on Saturday. Some of the other girls had been out for several weeks since their seasons ended.
“We haven’t had a break,” said Keller, who will play next season for former Summerfield star Caitlin Blanchard at the University of Lourdes. “It was a lot of fun. … I was a little impressed with how well we integrated.
West opened the scoring in the first inning when VanBrandt was safe on an error and Whiteford teammate Ambrelle Billau was safe on a bunt single.
Jefferson’s Lily Liptow, who played for the East, was surprised and impressed to see a bunt in an All-Star Game.
“I think they came to play a bit more than us,” she said. “We just wanted to have fun.”
A sacrifice fly from Emily Killion of Dundee tackled the first run of the evening.
West’s lead increased to 5-0 with three runs in third and one in fourth. A Britlee Warren single started the third and she scored on an RBI triple from Milan teammate Vanessa White.
“It was fun to come back out there,” White said. “I played with my travel team, but it’s not the same. I met a bunch of great girls.
VanBrandt and Keller’s RBI singles capped the third-inning uprising.
Dundee’s Kelsie Schmidt hit a two-out single in the fourth and headed home on a double by Abby Sparks of Summerfield.
The 5-0 lead seemed secure at the time, but didn’t last.
East came back strong with three points in the fourth and two in the fifth.
Erie Mason’s Lizzy Liedel and Audrey Hempel made runs in fourth. New Boston Huron’s Emily Milan doubled to start the fifth and scored on an RBI single from Liptow. Sophia Sommerset of Flat Rock scored the tying point.
A Keller single was the hit in the sixth as West regained the lead.
“It was a good game,” Davis said. “We had some big hits and all of our pitchers did well. Keller did a really good job, (Mckenna from Dundee) Salley kept us in the game and (Madison from Summerfield) Waterhouse just threw some shots.
Macy Collett (Monroe), Liedel, Lily Liptow (Jefferson) and Amber Burzlaff (Jefferson) each had two hits for the East.
“It was super fun playing with girls from all over,” Liptow said. “I like my regular team, but it was so much fun. Sometimes we had trouble paying attention to the game because we were having so much fun.