BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -The ball bounced and bobbled around on the field uncharacteristically for Summerfield during the Division 4 state semifinal meeting with Frankfort yesterday afternoon.
Five errors spelled trouble for the Bulldogs, whose dreams of playing in the championship game for a second straight season dissolved with a 3-2 defeat to Frankfort in eight innings at Bailey Park.
Frankfort's Laney Eubank tagged a single to center off Summerfield ace Jordan Ratliff in the bottom of the eighth to drive in the winning run.
Despite the loss, Summerfield coach Robert Taylor said the Bulldogs (33-6) had reason to hold their heads high, including becoming the first team in any sport in school history to play in two straight state semifinals games.
"I'm very proud of these kids," Taylor said. "They've done a phenomenal job. I don't think they have anything to be ashamed of. They should be proud."
Frankfort's Panthers (38-5), who will face defending champion Allen Park Cabrini (34-0) today in a championship game, took advantage of Summerfield errors to score their first two runs.
Their game-winner was set up when Ratliff led off the inning by walking Brenna Bankston. It was the only walk allowed by Ratliff, who went the distance, striking out eight and allowing nine hits.
"We are very proud of our season," said sophomore Ratliff. "We've worked our butts off to get here.
"They [Panthers] were a good team. They were beatable and I think they just got the breaks that we didn't get."
Eubank, who had been 0-for-3 against Ratliff including two strikeouts, made the most of her opportunity in the eighth.
With two runners on and one out, Eubank said she persuaded her coach to give her the green light at the plate instead of being told to lay down a bunt in an attempt to move the runners over.
"I knew he was going to make me bunt," Eubank said. "But I knew it was my time. I had not had a hit all day.
"I begged my coach and I got a hit. I knew I could hit it."
The Bulldogs trailed 1-0 early in the game before rallying for two runs in the fifth to take a 2-1 lead.
Brittney Faunce led off the fifth with a hit off Frankfort starter Jennifer Elliott. Courtesy runner Hana Williams moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Annalise Latting. Chelsea Manley followed with a single. Two batters later, Ashley Gilson tagged a base hit that drove in two runs.
"The count was 2-0 and I knew what was coming, so I just swung and hit it," Gilson said.
But Frankfort came right back in the sixth to tie the score when Allison Webber tagged a two-out run-scoring double to center.
"The breaks went their way and they were fortunate to capitalize on them," Taylor said.
Allen Park Cabrini defeated Bay City All Saints 1-0 in the other semifinal.42.31617 -85.18022