In Play with Tom Markowski

Cloe Mallory tosses a gem, Inland Lakes wins first state title

Softball   | Tom Markowski

Cloe Mallory tosses a gem, Inland Lakes wins first state title

East Lansing – Step by step.

That’s been Indian River Inland Lakes’ course of action over the last few seasons and on Saturday it culminated in the program’s first state title.

Inland Lakes won a district title in 2014. The Bulldogs reached the Division 4 quarterfinals the next season and last season they lost in the state final to Unionville-Sebewaing Area, 1-0.

Cloe Mallory, a four-year starter, made sure this season would be different. Cloe, a right-hander who will play for Central Michigan next season, tossed a 1-hitter as Inland Lakes (35-5) defeated Ottawa Lake Whiteford (33-7), 8-0, in the Division 4 final at Michigan State on Saturday.

Mallory struck out 12 and walked five.

Inland Lakes scored three runs in the third inning and put the game out of reach by scoring four in the sixth.

“It definitely was our motivation,” Mallory said of last season’s state-final loss. “It means so much to our community. You see it in the little children’s faces. More and more are coming out. And it all started with us.

“Every year was a stepping stone. Last year (state final) was definitely nerve-racking. I felt so much more comfortable this year.”

Mallory set the tone by striking out the first five batters. The lone hit she allowed was Erin Manley’s double to lead off the fourth.

Pamela Braund and Precious DelosSantos each batted in two runs, and Sydney DePauw was 3-3 with two runs scored.

“I feel we peaked at the right time this year,” coach Krissi Thompson said. “Last year we peaked too soon. We peaked late, just before the districts. From the districts on we’ve taken it to our opponents.”

In Inland Lakes’ eight tournament games the Bulldogs outscored their opponents, 100-4.

“I knew (Mallory) was good,” Whiteford coach Kris Hubbard said. “I saw her last year. I knew what we were getting into. I don’t have a problem. I start seven sophomores. We didn’t lose it. We got beat.”