SOFTBALL: Athens claims first softball district since 1997 | North Oakland Sports

SOFTBALL: Athens claims first softball district since 1997

| June 3, 2012 | Comments (0)



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TROY — Championships had been few and far between concerning Troy Athens’ softball team over the years. In fact, winning a league and district title in the same season was an unknown commodity.

That all changed Saturday on Athens’ home diamond.

The Red Hawks staked claim to their first Division 1 district crown since 1997, only two weeks after Athens won the OAA White Division. The Red Hawks, now a school record 32-6 on the season, toppled rival Troy 6-2 in the semifinals and didn’t let down their guard by pounding Rochester Adams 9-0 in the finals.

WATCH THE LEATHER: Troy Athens sophomore Lauren Genereau fields this ground ball during the Red Hawks' district win Saturday against Troy. Photo | Larry McKee,

“This was one of our goals since the beginning of the season,” said senior Melissa Palmer, who is headed to western Michigan next season. “This was my last chance and I didn’t want to let it slip away.

“I have not beaten (Troy) in my four years here,” continued Palmer. “We’ve gotten close, but haven’t come through with a win. We played together as a team.”

Palmer, who is batting close to .700 this season and finished with seven hits on the day, led off the Troy contest with a single and later scored off an RBI triple by Sarah Watton. Haley Zemmer, who picked up both pitching wins Saturday and has 31 wins this season, laced a two-run home run to stake Athens to an early 3-0 lead and plenty  of momentum for the rest of the day.

Palmer added an RBI in the second and the Red Hawks led 5-0 through two frames.

The Red Hawks, who will play in the Hartland regional next Saturday against the Lake Orion district champion, did not trail in either contest.

“It’s a great feeling to win a district,” smiled Athens coach Dave Marr. “There were a couple of years where I thought we have a chance but couldn’t get it done and Troy has had all of that dominating pitching. Now, we felt that this year we could have a chance and we were able to win today. It’s been too long.”

In the finals, Zemmer gave up three hits to the Highlanders, who rallied from a 2-12 record at the start of the season to finish 20-19.  Against Troy, Zemmer scattered nine hits with five strikeouts.

“She’s been phenomenal for us all season long,” said Marr of Zemmer. “Haley and Melissa Palmer are both players that other teams have to keep an eye on. We’ve had some good teams and good players over the years, but never two players at the same time quite like them.”

Troy, which reached the state quarterfinals each of the past five seasons, finished 27-9.

Adams defeated Auburn Hills Avondale 8-2 in the first semifinal but ran out of steam against Athens.

“We started 2-12 and 6-15 and I wondered if we could ever even get to 10 wins,” said Adams coach Fran Scislowicz. “But the girls kept working and we went on a little bit of a run and finished one game over five-hundred.

“We knew we could not let Athens get a lead and when they went up on us in the first inning that made it tough on us,” continued Scislowicz. “Athens is a good team and their pitcher never allowed us to get much going.”

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