EAST LANSING – When Arieanna Grammatico stepped into the batter’s box in the Division 1 state championship, she reflected back to the last time she was at the plate and the game was on the line.
“The same thing happened in the district title game; I was batting and hit the winning run and that was a little nerve-wracking, so I at least got my nerves out before this one,” Grammatico said about Macomb Dakota having the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
This time Grammatico got help she didn’t ask for when Grandville pitcher Ellie Muilenburg’s 0-2 pitch sailed over the catcher’s head to the screen and Kattie Popko, who reached base on an error, raced home from third base for the winning run and a 4-3 victory over Grandville.
The teams were tied, 3-3 after three innings before winning pitcher Kendahl Dunford of Dakota and Muilenburg settled in. The hurlers finished with 11 and 10 strikeouts, respectively, with one walk apiece.
“Obviously, a lot of emotion in that game,” Fontaine said. “Had highs and lows, we got out to a little lead, got down, got back. Just those last four or five innings, just pressure-packed and every pitch you counted; it mattered."
Fontaine added there was no panic when the game wasn’t decided in regulation.
“We’re gritty and we just don’t give up,” he said. “We just have a bunch of pit bulls on our team that just go out there and won’t take failure, it’s just not an option. It’s a testament to them. A lot of people can’t do it under the pressure. We’ve been able to do enough, and that’s all you need in softball, when you’re playing good teams.
“It’s been a great ride being here last year and losing. Trying to get back (to MSU) all year. Just a lot of relief that we finished the job this year.”