By Randy Castro
What Anchor Bay's run to a Division 1 softball district title lacked in drama, it more than made up for in dominance.
The Tars combined to score 19 runs, and allowed just one, over the two-game run to the title, culminating in an 8-1 victory over L'Anse Creuse North in the championship game at Port Huron Northern on Friday.
"We have a pretty good hitting ball club," Anchor Bay coach Len Perkins said. "But it always is dependent on pitching. Our pitching was great today. As long as they do that, we're going to be in the ball game."
The Crusaders jumped out to an early lead in the title game on an Emily Bliss single with one out in the first inning. From there, the LCN bats went silent.
After giving up three first-inning singles, Anchor Bay pitcher Aleah Marra scattered four hits the rest of the way to earn the complete-game victory. Along with the one earned run on seven hits, she struck out six and went without issuing a walk.
Marra helped her own cause from the plate, finishing a home run shy of the cycle – going 3-for-4 with a RBI. Avieri Ludwig went 3-for-4 with three RBI to pace the Tars' offense. Izzy Moceri went had a triple and a RBI.
Elizabeth Townsend finished with three hits, while Jenna Casey tacked on two.
In all, Anchor Bay (23-14) scratched out 15 hits.
"The girls did a great job," Perkins said. "They hit the ball behind each other, which makes it easier. You've got to get those runners in when you get a chance. It makes all the difference."
Down 1-0, Anchor Bay got its rally started in the third inning on a Callie Tatum lead-off triple. A pair of extra base hits followed – as part of five-hit inning – and a one-run deficit turned into a 3-1 lead.
The Tars tacked on two more insurance runs in the fourth and four more in the six to blow the game open.
Mikayla Bruder suffered the loss for the Crusaders, allowing eight runs on 15 hits. She struck out one and went without a walk.
Piper Roth finished 2-for-4 and Bliss went 2-for-2 and reached base three times.
"The first couple of innings, we got runners on," LCN coach Mark Mignot said. "We needed a big hit. That could have changed everything. They made the plays. When they got runners in scoring position, that's when they got big hits."
It was Anchor Bay's 12th district title in 13 years. The only blemish on the Tars' resume during that span was an extra-innings loss to L'Anse Creuse in 2015.
"We know Anchor Bay's pedigree," Mignot said. "We kind of view them as our rival. They always get pumped up and ready to play. But you've got to credit their pitcher for keeping our hitters at bay."
Anchor Bay, which hosts a regional next Saturday, beat Port Huron 11-0 in five innings in the semifinal, while LCN rolled over Port Huron Northern 16-4, also in five innings.
"When you have a chance to play a regional at home, it's always nice to win the district," Perkins said. "We try and focus on that and we try to get that done."