In Play with Tom Markowski

Tiano tosses two-hitter, Regina wins sixth state title with 5-0 victory over Caledonia in Division 1

Softball   | Tom Markowski

Tiano tosses two-hitter, Regina wins sixth state title with 5-0 victory over Caledonia in Division 1

East Lansing – Nicole Roeske had work to do on Friday, Warren Regina’s off day. The junior right fielder gathered all the information she could to prepare for Caledonia and its freshman sensation, pitcher Sammie Gehrls.

Roeske’s scouting report and a strong pitching performance by Marissa Tiano were too much for Caledonia as Regina claimed the school’s sixth title with a 5-0 victory in the Division 1 final on Saturday at Michigan State University.

Regina (27-16) started the season 3-11 before a team meeting was held that turned its season around.

Tiano, who gave up 12 hits in an 8-2 quarterfinal victory over Allen Park on Tuesday, was at her best in the biggest game. Tiano, who signed with Northwood University, tossed a two-hitter, walked two, hit three batters and struck out nine. No Caledonia base runner reached third base and just two got as far as second.

Roeske went 3-3 with a walk and she scored the first run after opening the fourth inning with a single.

Gehrls and Caledonia defeated Farmington Hills Mercy, 5-2, in Thursday’s semifinals and Roeske called up some of her friends at Mercy, which, like Regina, is a member of the Catholic League Central Division, to get some advice.

“They told me not to get behind in the count and go after the first good pitch,” Roeske said. “When they got behind on her she would throw the riser. She’s got a good one. Yeah, we were aggressive. And we did a really good job of looking (the riser) down.

“And I talked to my brother (Ryan), too. He played at (Warren) De La Salle when they got to the finals (De La Salle lost to Hudsonville, 9-6, in the 2012 Division 1 final). He gave me some advice. That really helped. And I think the 3-2 count helps us out. You have to swing.”

The Catholic League, in softball and baseball, uses a 3-2 system for balls and strikes in its league contests.

Regina scored four in the top of the fifth on four hits, a passed ball, an error, a wild pitch and a walk. Riley Hison had a two-run double and Roeske batted in the fourth run of the inning on a fielder’s choice.

And just like in its 7-1 semifinal victory over Mattawan, Regina did not commit an error.

Regina is known for playing sound, fundamental ball. Its starts with Diane Laffey who is in her 45th season as coach. Regina won four consecutive titles (2004-07) and has never lost in a state final.

“We’ve lost in the semis,” Laffey said. “I didn’t realize we hadn’t lost in a final. Those teams probably had a few more stars but look at the bottom of our lineup.”

The eighth and ninth batters in the lineup, Jessie Munson and Lauren Bukowski, had singles to start the four-run fifth.

That was more than enough run support for Tiano.

“This was her best,” Laffey said. “She pitched well against Mercy in the (league) semifinals. Her location was good. She’s not overpowering so if she can mix it and stay on the corners she’s fine.”

Tiano said she went with her screwball when she needed an out pitch.

“We were watching all of these videos and I said I don’t need to look at those,” Tiano said. “I went inside a lot. (My coaches) told me not to pitch inside. But my screwball is my best pitch and that’s where I throw it.”

Caledonia (34-5) hit 49 home runs in its first 38 games but never hit the ball hard against Tiano.

“We didn’t show what kind of team we have today,” Caledonia coach Tom Kaechele said. “(Tiano) had great control. We weren’t patient today. She had a good inside pitch going.

“I told my players make sure you celebrate this year. There were a lot of firsts at Caledonia.”   

Caledonia had never won a regional until this year.