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Kendahl Dunford spot on as Dakota won pre-district over Utica

Softball   | Tom Markowski

Kendahl Dunford spot on as Dakota won pre-district over Utica



Sterling Heights – Kendahl Dunford is not one to dwell on the past.

Dunford, a junior right-hander at Macomb Dakota and one of 10 players in the running for State Champs’ Softball Player of Year contest, was the starting and losing pitcher in last season’s pre-district loss to Utica Ford. Then, just as there is now, Dakota had high expectations going into the state tournament after capturing the Macomb Area Conference Red Division title.

Dunford atoned for that setback with a stellar performance on Tuesday as Dakota whipped Utica 9-1 on Tuesday in a Division 1 pre-district at Sterling Heights Stevenson.

Dunford fanned nine, gave up two hits and one walk, and retired the last 12 batters.

Dakota (32-2) will play Stevenson (16-10) in a district semifinal on Friday at 1 p.m. The winner advances to the district final later that afternoon against the winner of Clinton Township Chippewa Valley and Utica Ford.

Utica (18-11), champions of the MAC White Division, scored its run in the top of the fourth on a wild pitch. Only one other base runner reached second base and that took place in the first inning.

A key to Dunford’s success on this day, and in many other games this season, was her changeup. When she has that pitch working it makes her fastball and riser all that more effective.

“I got more comfortable with the umpire’s strike zone as the game went on,” Dunford said. “It’s not so much that last year was a disappointment. It was we w