Huron softball claims its first state title

For the last couple of decades, Presque Isle County baseball and softball teams have advance to the MHSAA state finals. Some have played in semifinal games and others made it all the way to title games.

None had ever won it all until Saturday, when the 2014 Huron softball team, the team that believed in each other and had each other’s backs, won a Division IV state championship with a 3-2 win over defending champ Kalamazoo Christian.

Autumn Idalski caught the final out in left field and was mobbed by her teammates. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

It was the program’s third attempt at a state title and Karl Grambau’s squad pulled it out by knocking off a program that has lots of experience at this level, winning six state titles. They also had to defeat the winning pitcher from last year’s title game, Bekah VanDam.

It did not seem to faze the Huron hitters, as they hit the senior hard.

One of the biggest stories of the game was the pitching of Nikki Radke, who saved her best pitching out of the post season for last. She was throwing one hit ball through five innings and retired 15 in a row at one point.

“It’s amazing,” said Radke, her voice quivering with excitement, while wiping away tears. “It’s been my goal forever. To come in during my senior year and win it is awesome.”

Nikki Radke earned the win in thecsemifinal and championship games. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

“It was a fantastic job by our girls,” said Grambau. “Our girls were just fantastic, in staying as calm as everybody did during the two days here. It’s great for our community and great for all of northern Michigan. I could not be more proud of the girls.”

Even when the score was 1-1, the Huron hitters kept hitting and kept making the plays. They left five runners in scoring position through the first four innings.

The Hurons got that breakthrough moment in the top of the fifth when Alexa Quaine lined a ball that just landed inside the left field foul line. It brought Morgan Hall in all the way from first to give Rogers City a 2-1 lead.

The KC left fielder chases down Alexa Quaine's (13) double, which scored Morgan Hall from first base. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

In the top of the seventh, Sarah Meredith walked ahead of a RBI double by Hall, who had a stellar finals at the plate. It was a key insurance run as KC plated a run in the bottom of the seventh before the final out was recorded by Autumn Idalski if left field.

“State champs. It feels so good,” said Quaine. “I can’t even explain it.”

“Our fans were fantastic, we had such a great time at MSU,” said Grambau. “It’s a great day to be a Huron. For Rogers City, for our high school, for all of northern Michigan, for our softball program, it’s great for everybody.

“Every little town needs a good shot in the arm, and Rogers City and all of northern Michigan just got one, provided by these players.”

The Hurons, who defeated Folwer the day before 11-1, finish the season with a record of 34-6. A parade is scheduled for downtown Rogers City Sunday at 2 p.m.