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St. Mary Catholic Central advances to third straight D-3 Final; Napoleon advances to first state championship game

Softball   | Jeff Dullack

St. Mary Catholic Central advances to third straight D-3 Final; Napoleon advances to first state championship game

East Lansing – Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central star pitcher Meghan Beaubien has had more than her fair share of success playing at Secchia Stadium at Michigan State in the previous two seasons as she’d accounted for four shutouts in four games, which resulted in back-to-back Division 3 state championships for the Kestrels

And on Friday, Beaubien continued her dominance of opposing hitters in the Division 3 semifinal against Shepherd.

Beaubien was locked in a pitcher’s duel with Shepherd starter Haley Peska from the start and delivered another complete game shutout and scored the game’s only run as St. Mary C.C. advanced to the Division 3 final for a third consecutive year with a 1-0 win over upset minded Shepherd.

In the Division 3 final, St. Mary C.C. (26-3) will face Napoleon on Saturday back at Michigan State at 5:30.

Beaubien, who is no stranger to pitching battles, said that finding herself in a pitcher’s duel on Friday simply forced her to focus in even more throughout the game.

“It’s definitely a situation where you just need to bear down,” she said. “You can’t make mistakes, you can’t leave pitches over the plate and it just makes you focus more when you know you need to. My mentality was to keep the score at zero and we’ll have to find a run somewhere. You have to bear down and fight and manage to push one run across.”

With the Kestrels locked in a 0-0 tie entering the sixth inning, Beaubien led off the top half of the inning with a triple and would later score on an RBI double Kelsey Barron to score the game’s lone run.

St. Mary C.C. head coach John Morningstar said that while his team may have wanted more run support, the one run lead can be plenty when his senior ace is pitching as well as she was on Saturday, crediting her ability to change speeds to keep hitters off balance.

“One run will do you a lot when she’s on top of her game,” he said. “We chased some bad pitches and if team’s are looking at that, there’s a lot of people who think that you can have a kid that goes out there and throw 65 miles an hour and win games, but if she can’t change speeds – you saw how effective Beaubien’s changeup was, it locks your knees up and there’s nothing they can do with it. So you have to have the ability to change the perception and the depth of the ball. That’s success at the major league level, the collegiate level and at the high school level.”

But Beaubien would run into her first trouble of the game in the seventh inning when she hit the leadoff hitter in a two-strike count. But thanks to a diving catch from freshman right fielder Samantha Michael that prevented the run from scoring and a strikeout to end the game, St. Mary C.C. would hold on to head back to the D-3 Final.

Beaubien said she was upset with herself for hitting the leadoff hitter, but said that she knew what she had to do and credited Michael for her play, which preserved the shutout.

“You can’t hit that batter, that’s really bad,” she said. “I know I did, so I was like ‘You really shouldn’t have done that, that’s super bad,’ but I just had to work with it and get three more outs. She (Michael) made a great play, she saved that game from going into extras, she did a great job there and I just knew I had to do my part and get that last strikeout.”

Beaubien allowed just two hits and struck out 15 batters in seven innings to earn the win, outdueling Peska, who had a nearly equally impressive line as she allowed one run on five hits and tallied six strikeouts in the loss for Shepherd (25-19).

Shepherd head coach Bobb Servoss said that what made his junior pitcher so successful was her changeup and praised both pitchers for their performances on Friday.

“She’s one cool customer,” he said. “Her demeanor when she gets in the circle never changes, she never gets rattled and I think that you’ll find it with a lot of good pitchers that can throw a changeup for a strike, they don’t get rattled out there. That changeup is all about touch and feel and if you’re a little rattled and a little tight, you can’t throw it for a strike and these two girls today both were two really cool custom