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      Purple reign: Gladstone softball claims Division 3 state title

      Purple Reign had taken over Michigan State University.

      The Gladstone softball team faced its toughest test yet in the Division 3 state title game, an undefeated Unionville-Sebewaing team sitting at 40-0.

      In the first inning, Gladstoneâ??s Tinner Sharon scored off Sadie Strasserâ??s sacrifice fly for the gameâ??s first run. Lexi Hongisto drove in Strasser off a double in the third inning, en route to a 2-1 victory and the teamâ??s first title since 2009.

      Sharon was once again efficient in the circle.

      The senior pitched a complete game, striking out 12 batters.

      â??The [called strikes] were either far back in the box or really far on the plate, so if you work the inside corner itâ??s a hard place for them to hit,â?? Sharon said.

      â??Sheâ??s been in a groove the last couple of months,â?? Braves manager Ashley Hughes said. â??Sheâ??s done so well this year. She was ready to come in today despite her foot injury and she knows what sheâ??s got to do with those big hitters, especially in the start of the lineup.â??

      It may not have looked like it, but Sharon was still nursing a sore left ankle that she had sprained in Gladstoneâ??s 5-4 extra innings win against Coloma in the state semifinals on Friday.

      That toughness rubbed off on the teamâ??s defense, which allowed only one run on eight hits.

      In the bottom of the fifth inning, trailing 2-1, Unionville-Sebewaing was in position to make a comeback.

      The Patriots had plated two runners on base, with only one out.

      USA pitcher Erica Treiber grounded out to a double play, courtesy of Bridget Becker and Jessica Beaudry. The Braves retired the inning and preserved their lead.

      â??I was so scared,â?? Becker said. â??I caught it and I immediately knew that I had to throw to first because I knew that the girl went straight to home, so I had to get the double play.â??

      It was that teamwork that earned Gladstone its first championship in five seasons.

      â??Itâ??s just another game,â?? Braves senior Jessica Beaudry said. â??Itâ??s the same game weâ??ve been playing our whole entire seasonâ?|. this is our time to shine.â??

      Well, this particular game brought a state title back across the bridge to Gladstone and the Upper Peninsula.