By Clint Kern
EAST LANSING – After winning a couple tournaments earlier in the summer travel season, Line Drive Express 16U Coach Chad Haberland assembled his flame throwing and power slugging squadron and ventured down just southwest of Lansing to compete in the prestigious Holt College Exposure Tournament. The ladies played much better ball than what their final overall record for the tourney indicates. LDE won one, lost two and tied once against ultra skilled competition from large population areas of southern Michigan.
In the opener against Team Vengeance, Line Drive sprung out to an early 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the second inning. Beth Stroup uncharacteristically struckout, Jordan Schneider popped up to 1st-base and then Brandi Butler smoked a grounder that was fumbled by the 3rd-baseman which jolted some life into LDE’s bats.
Kim Rowe stepped up and walloped a double to put runners at 3rd and 2nd. Morgan Cassiday then sliced a two Rbi single to break the seal on the scoreboard, 2-0. Nicole Solomon fanned to end the inning and LDE could never rekindle their offensive mojo. Rowe unraveled in the 5th and 6th innings, surrendering six runs leading the Line Drive’s demise.
In game two the Express captured their swagger and harnessed their moxie, which translated into a 4-0 shutout toppling the Grand Rapids Blaze. Heather McNett unleashed scalded leather cannon balls of tailing mayhem and bewilderment. McNett compiled two K’s, just four hits and she allowed her stellar defense to field and catch the rest with ease.
Feisty, hard-nosed, masked and armored catcher behind the plate, Beth Stroup reminded everyone that she was also an offensive catalyst as she smashed a single in the 2nd inning. Schneider ensued by belting a single. Stroup scored when Butler nailed a sacrifice fly to left. The offense was stymied until the 4th stanza when Stroup crushed a double. Schneider garnered an Rbi with a single. Butler boomed a single, then Rowe drove home Schneider with her ground out to 2nd-base. Cassiday fanned again to end the threat, but the damage had been done and LDE won.
In game three versus Team Finesse, Line Drive succumbed 5-2. Blake Garner cranked a double and Stroup worked her way on via a base on balls. Garner galloped in to score from Schneider’s single. Soon after, Stroup hustled in and scored on a wild pitch, but the rally attempt fell short. Kim Rowe did a solid job of pitching, but she didn’t get enough key outs or very much run support to help her obtain the triumph.
In the finale in Ingham County, LDE battled to a stalemate as they tied Team Hang Tuf, 3-3 final. “As a whole, the weekend was good. The girls really competed against some good teams. Now we know that they can compete against anybody, we just have to eliminate extra outs,” stated Coach Chad Haberland. “This was a good building block for the next two weekends. We’ll head down to the Blue Chip tourney in Byron Center, then we’ll be off to Michigan City, IN for the NSA ‘B’ Nationals.”