Ninth-straight district title won on home turf

Mackenzie Bruning was the winning pitcher in the district championship game.
Leadoff hitter Chloe Hentkowski has been a spark for the Hurons all season-long.


by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor

The Lady Hurons defended home turf in style Saturday, winning the program’s ninth-straight district title under coach Karl Grambau. Rogers City topped Posen 7-5 in the district semifinals and beat Inland Lakes 8-6 in the championship game. Both games were a test for the Hurons, who began the district championship run in 2012. That year both the baseball and softball teams won district championships on the home fields, just like in 2021. 

Grambau praised the work of senior first baseman Jeffra Dittmar, who came up with clutch hits and played a flawless first base. 

“She played unbelievable at first base and hit the ball. She got some big hits for us and really scooped up some plays at first base. She is the best and proved it today,” Grambau said. 

Slugging first baseman Jeffra Dittmar.
Slugging first baseman Jeffra Dittmar.

The coach gave kudos to Mackenzie Bruning, the winning pitcher in the championship game. She pitched all seven innings allowing 11 hits and four earned runs while striking out three. She issued one intentional walk. 

“She is pitching so well and she works so hard at it. We are just happy we have a week to get ready for the regionals now,” Grambau said. 

The district championship came down to clutch hitting, effective pitching and managerial strategy. The Hurons entered the top of the seventh and last inning leading 8-4 behind Bruning’s pitching. That is when things got scary for the host team. The first three batters reached base before a pop-out to Dittmar got the first out. Then the number-three hitter, Natalie Wandrie singled and moved to second on the throw making the score 8-6. 

Now with the potential winning run at the plate, Bruning faced certain all-stater Kelsey Van Daele who had homered in her last at-bat the previous inning. Van Daele also homered in the semifinal game against Onaway earlier in the day. Grambau called timeout, making a trip to the pitching circle to tell Bruning to issue an intentional pass to the power hitter. 

The strategy worked as Bruning got the next hitter to ground out to second baseman Alyssa Hein for the final out. 

“I’m really, really proud of the girls. We played one of our best games today and we had to because Inland Lakes has a great team and they are very well-coached. It was a good battle. We won nine districts in a row and this one might be the sweetest one of all,” Grambau said. 

Rogers City scored three runs in the second, three in the fourth and two more in the sixth inning.  Dittmar’s two-out single up the middle in the second inning scored Hein and Chloe Hentkowski. That came after Karissa Rabeau’s single, one of four singles she had in the game, scored Raegan Comerford who beat out an infield hit. 

Dittmar, batting cleanup, finished with three hits and four RBI. Taylor Krentz had two hits for Rogers City. 

POSEN GAVE the Hurons a good game in the district semifinals. After spotting the Hurons to a 5-1 lead after two innings, the Lady Vikings bounced back with two runs in the third and one in the fourth to make the score 5-4. 

Rogers City picked up a run in the fifth and one in the sixth, but Posen threatened in the seventh. Makayla Kamyszek singled and moved to third on a single by Abi Schellie. Shelby Donajkowski drove in a run on a swinging bunt fielded by Rogers City catcher Madeline Hardies. Donajkowski was out at first but the rally ended with a groundout by the next batter. 

Dittmar and Hardies each had two RBI for Rogers City while Kaitlin Nowicki had three hits for the Hurons. Krentz went all the way for the Hurons allowing 11 hits while striking out five.

Posen's Makayla Kamyszek
Posen’s Makayla Kamyszek

Kamyszek surrendered 12 hits and five earned runs while notching eight strikeouts. She also had three hits and drove in two runs for Posen. Schellie also had three hits. 

Posen coach Wayne Karsten had nothing but praise for his team. 

“That was probably one of the better all-around games that we played today. We caught the ball, we threw strikes, batters put the ball in play and I can’t ask for anything more than that. Rogers City hit the ball. Rogers City had six RBI with two outs. They came with the clutch hits and we didn

t,” Karsten said. 

The Lady Vikings (18-14) saw their overall game improve from the start of the season to the end and prospects are good for next season. The team loses only two players to graduation, outfielder Hailey Styma and exchange student Julia Maura. 

Rogers City now plays St. Ignace at noon Saturday at Inland Lakes. The winner takes on the winner of the Central Lake vs. Hillman game for the right to play in the June 15 quarterfinals at Rudyard. 

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