Errors doom Broncos

NORWAY — Untimely errors came back to haunt the Bark River-Harris Broncos here Saturday as they fell to the Rudyard Bulldogs 5-0 in a Division 4 regional softball final.

This marked the second straight title for the Bulldogs (22-9), who pounced on a combined four miscues in the fourth and fifth innings. They meet Rogers City in a state quarterfinal contest Tuesday in Petoskey. The Broncos finished 27-6.

Rudyard defeated Hancock 5-1 and BR-H blanked L’Anse 8-0 in opening-round games.

Freshman Brooklyn Besteman scored Rudyard’s first run on a fielding error in the fourth inning of the title contest.

The Bulldogs then cashed in on two more miscues and gained a four-run cushion on a single to left field by senior pitcher Emilee Curtis in the fifth.

“Just to break a 0-0 game is huge,” said Rudyard coach Kurt Kwiatkowski. “The girls get excited and start making plays. This was a very intense game. When you play a championship game, it’s going to be a matter of taking advantage of your opportunities. When you put the ball in play, good things happen.”

Rudyard concluded the scoring on senior Cierra Molina’s single to left in the fifth frame on this sunny and warm day at Marion Park.

“The errors were the difference in this game,” said BR-H coach Jen Goodrich. “This is very uncharacteristic of our team. We just didn’t play Bronco softball. It feels more like we lost the game than them winning it.”

Curtis struck out 11, walked one and allowed five hits. Eden Oswald, who absorbed the loss, fanned nine, walked three and gave up five hits.

The Broncos stranded two baserunners in the third and fourth frames and Oswald was thrown out while attempting to steal second base in the sixth inning.

“We’re the only district champions from our school this year,” said Goodrich. “It doesn’t feel good to lose, but it feels good to be here. Our district goal was to get a championship and we accomplished that. Our program is only five years old. We’re still young in some ways.”

BR-H took advantage of two walks, two passed balls and three hit batters to score four times in the opening frame against L’Anse.

Left-hand hitting Bonnie Cortinas then led off a three-run fifth with a home run to right-center and the Broncos added a run on Oswald’s infield single in the sixth.

Oswald fired a two-hitter, whiffed 13 and walked one for the Broncos.

Josie Rice pitched 4 1/3 innings and took the loss for the Purple Hornets. She struck out one, walked three, hit three batters and gave up seven runs on five hits.

“Josie settled down and pitched three solid innings,” said L’Anse coach Janet Rossi. “I think giving up the home run was a letdown for her and maybe she got a little tired.”

Tatiana LaFave drove in two runs for the Broncos, who finished with six hits.