Graham and Sheets Shut Down Oakland CC As No. 12 Express Sweep Regular Season Finale
By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Waterford, MI---The No. 12 Express softball team was without the services of their No. 1 pitcher Ashlyn Michalak, but it was no problem as the duo of Kasey Graham and Lexi Sheets tossed 14 quality innings in a sweep of Oakland Community College.
The only thing that kept the duo from 14 shutout innings was two unearned runs in the sixth inning of game two.
Game 1: Owens 5 Oakland CC 0
Graham worked out of a couple jams to throw her first seven inning complete game of the season.
The Express offense provided plenty of run support for Graham despite only scoring in two innings. After going six up, six down through the first two innings, the Express scored four runs on six hits in the third.
Mareshah Scott and Alyssa Lassey had back-to-back singles leading off the inning. Both of them then moved up a base when Oakland's catcher made an errant throw in an attempt to pick off Scott at second. Michelle Hollister then knocked Scott in with a single to left, but Lassey was thrown out at home on the play.
After Hollister stole second, Melanie Iacoangeli singled. On the play, a wild throw to first allowed Hollister to score and Iacoangeli to advance an extra base. After a pop out, Sydney Barron and Aja Hall hit back to back RBI doubles to make it 4-0. Barron's double was a rope to left field that landed just fair, while Hall's double went right over the third base bag down the line.
In the fourth, Oakland loaded the bases with no outs. Graham, however, escaped the jam without any runs, thanks in part to a little luck. After securing a 5-2 fielder's choice groundout to get the first out at home, Graham got a fly out to deep right. However, Oakland's runner at third failed to tag on the play. Graham then got a groundout to second to end the inning unscathed.
In the sixth, the Express offense added an insurance run when an errant throw on a single by Hall plated Katlyn Whitmarsh, who pinch ran for Barron following a leadoff single.
Then, in the bottom half, Oakland stranded the bases loaded once again, this time with two outs. However, Graham got a pop out to short to end the threat.
After her offense stranded the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, Graham finished off Oakland with a 1-2-3 seventh to pick up her 12th win of the season.
Graham's (12-1) final line included seven hits, zero walks and one strikeout. Meanwhile, Oakland's Justina Saltarelli pitched the first six innings to pick up the loss. She allowed nine hits, five runs (four earned) and zero walks while striking out three.
Iacoangeli led the Express offense with three hits while finishing 3-for-4 with one run. Barron (2-for-3, R, 2B, BB, RBI) and Hall (2-for-4, 2B, SB, RBI) also had solid games.
Game 2: Owens 3 Oakland CC 2
Sheets pitched six solid innings to pick up the win, while Graham pitched the seventh to pick up her team-high fourth save.
The Express scored once in the first and twice in the second to jump out to a 3-0 lead early. In the first, Iacoangeli led off with a single and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Barron. It was her 10th sacrifice fly of the season - easily a team high.
Then, in the second, Kenny Craig walked and Scott singled with one out. Craig would later score on a wild pitch, while Scott scored on an RBI single by Hollister.
In the third, Sheets escaped a bases loaded jam with two outs when she got a strikeout to end the inning. Aside from that inning, Sheets had allowed only one baserunner through five.
In the sixth, the Express defense made some miscues that allowed two unearned runs to score. With two outs and nobody on, Sheets gave up a single and a double to put runners on second and third. The next two batters hit what should have been outs, but back-to-back errors made it 3-2. However, with runners on first and second, Hollister made a diving play from the second base position on a ground ball up the middle to get a force out at second to end the inning.
After the Express stranded two in the top of the seventh, Graham relieved Sheets and retired the side 1-2-3 to pick up the save.
Sheets, who improved to 10-2, allowed five hits, two runs (zero earned) and one walk. She struck out three.
Sam Chevillet took the tough luck loss for Oakland. She only pitched to the first batter of the game, Iacoangeli, and gave up a single. On the play, Chevillet was injured and had to exit. Iacoangeli later scored to give her the loss. Jenny Cadena and Kayla Provo combined to pitch the rest of the game.
Scott and Lassey each picked up two hits for the Express as Scott finished 2-for-3 with a run and Lassey was 2-for-3. Additionally, Hollister was 1-for-3 with an RBI and Iacoangeli was 1-for-2 with a run and a stolen base - her 62nd of the season.
The Express (39-5) have closed out their regular season. They will open Region XII District G tournament play on Wednesday as the No. 2 overall seed. After a first round bye, they will play the winner of Jackson CC and Muskegon CC in the winner's bracket semifinal at 6 p.m. Stay tuned to our Facebook page (Owens Express Athletics) and our Twitter page (@owensexpress) for more information and live updates.
Michalak, along with starting shortstop Hallie Thompson, missed the trip due to final exams.
Iacoangeli closes the regular season with a .545 batting average and 62 stolen bases. The single season record for batting average is .541, set by Kylie Zweifel in 2006. Meanwhile, Hollister closes out the regular season with 47 RBIs. The single season record is held by Amanda Temple, who had 54 in 2009.
With her eight shutout innings today, Graham lowered her season ERA to 1.78. Additionally, with the win by Sheets, all three Express starters have at least 10 wins.