Melissa tops Lady Hornets in area round

May 3—WHITEHOUSE — In a top-10 matchup in the area round, Huntsville and Melissa squared off for a trip to the regional quarterfinals.

After a 1-1 first inning, the Cardinals broke things open with two home runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Cardinals took the game, 5-1 as sophomore Kennedy Bradley finished with two RBI on two separate solo shots.

"At the end of the day, I am proud of my kids. I wish we had made adjustments and we talked about it. I thought we were better prepped and ready for it," Huntsville coach Morgan Bryan said. "We had them in situations several times, we just couldn't execute. We had several times where we could have made the adjustments and didn't. Leaving eight runners on base hurts."

Offense for the Lady Hornets was going to have to be on point and they started strong. Senior Jaelynn Duke ripped a lead-off single to start the attack early. But things fell flat.

Senior Aariss McHale tried to bunt her over before striking out to put up the first out. Katie VonRosenberg battled but took the second strikeout to put two on the board. With Melissa's Alex Starr in the circle, a Michigan State commit, Huntsville needed some magic.

Emily Zunker drilled a pitch to left field and a pitch hit Kali Klawinsky to load the bases. With two outs, sophomore Jaz Enriquez has an opportunity. Despite striking out, Enriquez got to first base on a dropped third strike that allowed Duke to score.

But that was all Huntsville could muster up in the first, leaving the bases loaded to start the game.

From there things never eased up. Huntsville tallied six hits off Starr as Duke had two of them and the lone run. With Starr tossing the ball past the Lady Hornets, she collected nine strikeouts against Huntsville as they struggled to catch up.

The Lady Hornets left runners in scoring position in the top of the fourth inning with an opportunity to take the lead.

"We talked about it all year long, to go 29-5 is pretty impressive. We would have loved to get to 30 but it wasn't in the cards today. To do what they have done this year, fight against the odds and teams like Melissa. We did some great things. We just got beat once and it's OK," Bryan said. "That team right there has done more than anyone can imagine. They grew closer and did everything we could."

Duke made the start in the circle for Huntsville and started the evening strong against a lineup that was one of the best in the state. She limited them to eight hits, with three of them being a long ball.

While she has been a staple for the Lady Hornets in the circle, she came to fight. Melissa brought one of the best offenses in the state to battle and Duke held them in check.

The Cardinals offense averaged 10.5 runs per game and Duke held them to five. Melissa saw three home runs, which scored four of their five runs.

Duke was one of six seniors on the varsity roster that has contributed a lot to this team. The six seniors in Katie VonRosenberg, Emily Zunker, Rylie Hammond, Duke, McHale and Klawinsky have tallied four district championships, four bi-district championships and two area championships in their time at Huntsville.

"The senior class is special. They are probably one of the most decorated classes I have had the privilege of coaching," Bryan said. "They will definitely be missed. I told them all six of the spots are going to be hard to fill and it's going to be hard next year."

With the loss, Huntsville's season came to a close with a 29-5 record and a lot of underclassmen who got their feet wet for the upcoming year.