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DETROIT — Clarkston wasn’t going to give Madelin Skene another opportunity to be a hero.
That was OK with Delanie Grundman. She was more than willing and capable of wearing the cape.
Grundman singled home the winning run, capping a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to give ninth-ranked Hartland a 3-2 victory over No. 1-ranked Clarkston Tuesday in the state Division 1 softball quarterfinals at Wayne State University.
“I was more excited than I was nervous, because I knew I could do it,” Grundman said. “I knew we were going to win. The bases were loaded. I knew I just had to get the ball through the infield.”
Down 2-0, Hartland went into the seventh inning with its Nos. 7-9 hitters coming up. Brooke Cowan and Hannah Mourad had back-to-back doubles to begin the rally, Mourad’s hit driving in Hartland’s first run.
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After a bunt single by Kelsey Zampa, Bri Robeson hit a sacrifice fly to center field, bringing home pinch runner Anna Kemp with the tying run.
The Eagles loaded the bases when Clare Minsker reached base because of a throwing error while bunting.
Clarkston pulled pitcher Olivia Warrington and replaced her with Abbey Tolmie. Tolmie walked Skene on four straight pitches, no surprise because Skene had three home runs and nine RBI in a game against the Wolves last season. It was also Skene whose two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth gave Hartland a 4-2 victory Sunday over South Lyon in the regional championship game.
“We knew they were not going to pitch to Skene,” Hartland coach Bob Greene said. “We had a quick conversation. I said, ‘If they’re going to give you anything, it’s on the outside of the plate. Drill one to right field and see what you can do.’ They didn’t even give her that, which is fine.
“I told Madelin, ‘Delanie’s right behind you. You got on base; celebrate that and let Delanie do her job.’”
There was one out and a 2-2 count on Grundman when she grounded a single between first and second base to score Zampa and ignite a wild celebration by the Eagles, who will play in the state semifinals for the first time since 1996 at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Michigan State University. Hartland (32-5) will play rival Howell, a 3-2 winner over Plymouth.
“They do that quite a bit with Madelin Skene,” said Grundman, a senior first baseman. “She’s a great hitter. My coaches always tell me, ‘Delanie, we put you in this spot. You have to be ready. You have to get the job done.’ So, it was really exciting for me to step up there and I knew I just had to do it.”
Clarkston (39-3) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Sierra Kersten reached on an infield single and scored on a double to right-center field by Paige Blevins.
Hartland freshman Rachel Everett walked a batter for only the fourth time this season in the third inning when Tolmie reached on a free pass with one out. She made it to third, but Everett escaped the jam.
Hartland got a huge break in the fifth when Anna Skvarce of Clarkston rounded third on a double by Tolmie, but was thrown out by left fielder Sam Nagel trying to get back to the bag. The Wolves would’ve had runners on second and third with no outs.
Hartland didn’t have a runner reach third base, with only two reaching second, before getting its third straight come-from-behind victory. The Eagles were down 3-0 in a 7-3 victory over No. 5 Walled Lake Northern in the regional semifinals and faced a 2-1 deficit in the sixth inning against South Lyon in the regional final.
“Nobody scares us,” Mourad said. “It’s just another team. We’re all playing the game that we love, so you’ve just got to pour your heart out there.”
Everett allowed six hits and one earned run, striking out five. Hartland only four hits off Warrington in the first six innings before getting four in the seventh.
The only other time Hartland reached the state semifinals, the Eagles won the 1996 Class A championship.