Wayland whips Frankenmuth, 11-0, wins first title since 2006
East Lansing - It did not begin like one of the best pitching performances in state final history.
Mallory Teunissen of Wayland Union walked the first two Frankenmuth batters she faced in the Division 2 championship game, a stunning development for an All-State pitcher who averages only one walk every 30 innings.
Teunissen quickly regrouped and proceeded to frustrate Frankenmuth hitters the rest of the day, as Wayland won its first title since 2006 with an 11-0 rout of the Eagles on Saturday at Michigan State.
With 17 strikeouts, she came within one of tying the finals record for a seven-inning game. A groundout to end the game prevented her from tying the mark shared by Kalamazoo Christian's Keri DeJong (1996) and Galesburg-Augusta's Jackie Bowe (2008). Only three other pitchers, including DeJong in 1998, had 17 strikeouts in a seven-inning game.
"I just get out there and try to do my thing, make sure my pitches are working," Teunissen said. "In the beginning I walked a few batters, but I had to shake it off."
Teunissen had a no-hitter until Frankenmuth's Ivy Holland singled with two outs in the fifth. She allowed four hits and walked three.
"There were some nerves a little bit," Wayland coach Cheri Ritz said of her star pitcher. "I hadn't seen that all year. She walked the first couple batters, but she pitched the way she did all year."
It was understandable if Teunissen or any of her teammates weren't sharp early in this game.
The Wayland softball family was devastated on Thursday by the news that Bill Merchant, the father of assistant coach Nicki Cardosa, was killed in an automobile accident. His death came before the Wildcats took the field to play in the state semifinals, but the players and coaches weren't notified until after the game.
On Saturday, they returned to the same field with the knowledge of Merchant's tragic death still fresh in their minds.
"We made sure that, even with the heartbreak of the Merchant family, we knew we had to pick them up and stay with them," Teunissen said. "We prayed for them. We made sure that, even though it was a hard loss that we sang the song we always sing and everybody was still pumped up for this game."
Sophomore catcher Leigha Morse broke down several times while talking about her record-breaking two-homer performance. No player had ever hit more than one home run in a state final.
"I just went up and said, 'Do it for him,'" Morse said. "(Cardosa) has not only been my coach in this, but volleyball as well. She's like a second mom to me."
Frankenmuth had runners on second and third with one out after its first two batters walked in the first, but didn't score.
Wayland scored in each of the first three innings to build a 5-0 lead.
A two-out single by Hailey Houck opened the scoring in the first inning. Morse's first homer made it 2-0 in the second.
The Wildcats broke it open with a three-run third in which they had three extra-base hits. Doubles by Abby Merice and Houck, and a single by Mallory Teunissen scored one run apiece.
Wayland tacked on two more runs in the fifth when Morgan Winger lined a double over the head of left fielder Alyssa Jarlock.
Frankenmuth's best chance to score came in the sixth when Amariah Wright headed for home on a single by Kayla Brooks, only to be thrown out by center fielder Abby Merice.
Morse's three-run homer capped a four-run seventh for Wayland. The first run of the inning scored on a home run by sophomore Bethany Teunissen, an All-Stater last season who nearly missed the entire season with a knee injury. Teunissen didn't start on Saturday.
"I just get one at-bat normally a game," she said. "It was difficult. I just loved cheering on the team while I was out. It was a great opportunity to come back."
"My little sister Bethany came back from an ACL and she finally got that hit," Mallory Teunissen said. "I can't say how proud I am of her. She tore her ACL in basketball. We weren't sure if she'd be back for the tournament or not. She's an incredible player. I'm so glad she got to get back and I got to play with her my senior year."
Frankenmuth finished with a 37-4-1 record, reaching the finals for the third time in school history.
"I think our nerves got to us a little bit, and talent," Frankenmuth coach Brad Walraven said. "I don't want to take anything away from them. This game is humbling, because this is the worst beating we've had in quite a while. This brings us back down to earth a little bit. I hope this was a great learning experience for them."