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SOFTBALL: Sharon's gutsy performance, heroics lead Gladstone past Coloma and into D-3 title game

   | Jeff Dullack

State Champs! Sports Network

EAST LANSING – In sports lore, teams have moments where athletes cement their legacy with a memorable performances, overcoming obstacles or injuries to lead their team to an important win.

And now, Tinner Sharon has cemented her legacy in Gladstone sports lore with her efforts on Friday.

After suffering an ankle injury earlier in the game and watching her team’s 4-1 lead with two outs in the seventh evaporate, Sharon came up with a memorable effort for Gladstone.

With Sharon on first base in the eighth inning, playing with the bad ankle, senior Sadie Strasser laid down a bunt, moving Sharon all the way over to third base, but a throw that trickled away from the third baseman allowed Sharon to narrowly make it home and giver her team a 5-4 lead over Coloma and eventually the win.

With the win, Gladstone (29-2) advances to the Division 3 state championship game, where the Braves will face the winner of the Unionville Sebewaing-Clinton semifinal game, played later in the day on Friday.

Sharon said that simply, there was no way she was coming out of the game even with her injury when she reached base in the eighth inning and took advantage of some defensive mishaps to score.

“I wanted to stay in, there was no way I was coming out,” said Tinner, sitting on a cart to be taken to have her ankle further examined after having to be carried off the field. “I knew we had to win and I saw third base open, so I went to third and I saw the ball get by and I went home, that’s how it went.”

With Gladstone holding onto a 4-1 lead with two outs in the seventh, Coloma (34-10) came up with the surge it had been looking for all day long when junior shortstop Jenna Faultersack hit a deep home run to left field to cut the deficit down to 4-3.

Then the next batter, Lexee Summers, came up with some heroics of her own as she connected for a home run of her own that just barely cleared the fence to force extra innings.

“It was awesome,” Coloma head coach Wendy Goodline said. “I was hoping to turn our lineup over to the beginning of our lineup and I have confidence in them and I know that they can come through. So they did and we just kind of made an error there at the end, a mental error, not a physical error. We just made too many little mistakes today, it happens.”

But the game wouldn’t stay tied for very long because Sharon singled to left field and not long after, managed to make her way around the bases to give her team the 5-4 lead.

Gladstone first year head coach Ashley Hughes said that she proud of the way her team rallied around one another after giving up the three run lead and credited Tinner for her effort in the batter’s box and in the circle.

“All season, we’ve had this motto of never say die and you never know what could happen in the bottom of the seventh, which is very important for their team,” she said. “You could see how the momentum goes back and forth, but our girls rallied around each other today. Tinner was struggling because she had that issue with her foot today on the mound and she’s one incredible kid and definitely a leader for us.”

Not only did Tinner score the game-winning run, but she then returned to the circle for her eighth inning of work and caught a bunt in the air with one out and doubled off a base-runner at first to end the game and send her team to the state championship game.

Gladstone took the lead earlier in the game with a run in the first inning and then pushed the lead to 3-0 in the top of the fourth inning on a two-run home run off the bat of Jess Beaudry.

Coloma would manage to get one of those runs back in the bottom half of the fourth on an RBI single by Kristin Potter.