Chelsea spoils perfect game on final out but Saline still manages softball sweep
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It happens all too often in high school softball, according to Saline coach Alicia Seegert, but that doesn’t make it any easier when it happens to your team.
Hornets senior pitcher Kristina Zalewski got within one pitch of a perfect game before giving up a flare single to right field to Chelsea’s Bailey Darwin with two outs in the seventh inning.
Before that, Zalewski had retired 20 straight Bulldogs hitters while allowing only one ball out of the infield in a bid for the first perfect game of her high school career.
But it all ended when Darwin stuck out her bat and made just enough contact to get the ball to the outfield.
“It was rough,” Zalewski said. “It wasn’t a bad pitch, but I could have been better.”
Yet Zalewski and her teammates could take solace in a complete game one-hit, 13-strikeout performance that gave Saline a 4-0 win. The Hornets bats did the work in the second game of the doubleheader, as Saline got the sweep, 9-2.
Saline is now 13-1 on the year and a perfect 6-0 in SEC play. Chelsea falls to 8-4 overall and 4-2 in the league.
Saline lost its first game of the year Saturday, 3-2 to Monroe in a tournament final. They came back with a vengeance Monday with a clean sweep of one of the SEC’s top teams.
“I think they learned a lot from that game,” Seegert said of the Monroe game.
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
“We didn’t swing at first-pitch strikes, and when you take too many first-pitch strikes against a kid like that you’re not going to do very good,” Chelsea coach Bob Moffett said. “Our approach to hitting today was god awful, really, for both games.”
Zalewski was also able to work with a lead almost the entire game, after second baseman Alyssa Heren hit a three-run double in the first inning to put her team ahead.
In the second game, Saline broke open a tie game with a four-run third inning. After loading the bases with two out, the Hornets scored two runs on an error, then added two more on a double by Julia Anderson.
Chelsea, which started its season 8-1, was unable to mount a comeback bid in either game.
“When you play good teams, you spot them a couple of runs like that and then you’re clawing back,” Moffett said. “Right now we just don’t have enough kids that are swinging the bat well enough to the point that we can overcome that.”
Katie Alexander led Saline with four hits on the day. Heren finished with four runs batted in and three hits on the day. Laura Vaccaro started the second game for Saline, giving up two runs on six hits with six strikeouts.
The Bulldogs were led by Taylor Cooley who had two hits and scored both of Chelsea's runs in the second game. Carley Wooster had two hits as well.
But despite her one blemish on the day, no one shined brighter than Zalewski, who said her team’s hot start to the year has everything to do with chemistry.
“I think it’s really a team thing,” Zalewski. “We’re a lot closer this year than we have been.”