DeJager’s walk-off single keeps Diamond softball undefeated with big goals ahead


By Brennan Stebbins (For

Diamond sophomore Marrisa DeJager admitted it was “pretty nerve wracking.”

She was referring to her at bat in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday against Strafford, with the bases loaded, two outs, and the Wildcats trailing by a run.

It wasn’t just the game that was on the line, either––Diamond’s undefeated start to the season was facing perhaps its biggest challenge yet.

But DeJager fouled off three pitches and then, with a full count, drove a pitch to right field to score two runs and the Wildcats walked off as 7-6 winners to improve to 23-0 this spring.

“I was expecting a changeup but whenever I saw it I just had to get that barrel through the ball,” DeJager said afterwards. “I’m still shaking.”

Strafford, which entered the day 11-4 with double-digit run totals in seven of those games, proved one of the hardest tests so far for the Wildcats, who had won their first 22 by an average of seven runs, and only twice by one run.

The visitors plated two runs in the first and two more in the second for the early 4-1 lead. Diamond evened it up in the third, and the teams remained deadlocked for the next three-plus innings. Senior pitcher Caitlyn Suhrie and the Wildcats’ defense managed to work out of several jams late in the game; Strafford had runners at second and third with one out in the fifth, but Suhrie got a strikeout and a pop up to end the inning. In the sixth, the Indians again had runners at second and third with just one out. Again, Suhrie got a pop up and a strikeout to get out of it.

Some defensive miscues cost Diamond in the seventh. After two walks, Strafford loaded the bases on a Diamond throwing error following a ground ball. Then the Indians hit another grounder on the infield, and Diamond committed another throwing error that allowed two runs to score. Suddenly, the Wildcats were on their heels.

Senior Grace Frazier started the rally with a one-out bloop single over third base in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Lauren Turner hit a hard grounder to third that ricocheted to the shortstop and allowed her to beat the throw to first––scoring Frazier and making it 6-5. Taelyn Reeder followed with a single over the shortstop that moved Turner to second base.


The next batter hit the ball on the ground to third base, and Turner narrowly avoided getting tagged out on the base path. That set the stage for DeJager’s walk-off single.

“It’s been a couple games since we had this close of a ballgame and you could tell because we were a little hesitant when they hit the ball to us,” Diamond coach Kelsey Parrish said.

“We’re 23-0 so I think there’s a lot of pressure on them wanting to continue that winning streak,” she said. “I know that’s weighing on the girls’ shoulders, but we also know Strafford is a good team and they’re gunning for us every time we play them, as we’re gunning for them because good teams want to play good teams.”

Diamond is now in the midst of its fourth straight 20-win season. The Wildcats were 27-10-1 last season and suffered a 7-6 loss to Mt. Vernon in the district finals. Two years ago they were the Class 2 champions with a 29-3 record. The year before that, they went 20-4 and placed fourth in Class 2.

And so the Wildcats understandably have lofty goals this spring.

“We’re hoping to go to state this year and win it,” DeJager said. “Not just that, but going undefeated, as well.”

But, she added, “we just focus on the game more than the record.”

Diamond is ranked No. 1 in Class 2, one spot ahead of Mt. Vernon, while Strafford is ranked sixth. The Wildcats will travel to the Mountaineers on April 26, one of eight regular season games remaining in addition to the Adrian tournament.

The Wildcats are now averaging nearly nine-and-a-half runs per game, while allowing only 2.7. They’ve tossed six shutouts and have allowed a run or fewer in nine games.

“I just have to brag on my girls,” Parrish said. “One through nine we’re solid. The first week of practice I had a good feeling when we came out. Every other day I had the infield or outfield stay late so I could give them some specialized attention and every girl was staying late. We were practicing under the lights until 7:30 because nobody wanted to go home. They were hungry. I think that’s what’s special about these girls, they’re just hard workers and they’re hungry and they really own it.”

DeJager said the team’s theme this season is “iron sharpens iron.”

“Everybody sharpens one another and if one person makes a mistake, we’re picking them back up and we’re forgetting about it and moving forward onto the next play.”

The team has two seniors, Suhrie and Frazier, Monday’s pitcher-catcher duo, and has members of each grade in the lineup. Reeder, a freshman, is one of the team’s main pitchers behind Suhrie, who struck out nine batters against Strafford.

“That helps with our success; we have three solid pitchers,” Parrish said. “We have a huge pitching staff compared to a lot of teams this spring.”

The Wildcats’ aggressive base running has also contributed to the success, and Monday was another example. In the first inning, Frazier, the leadoff hitter, singled and then advanced to second as the ball was being thrown back in. She stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly. In the two-run bottom of the third, Frazier led off with a bunt single, then broke for second after a pop out, stole third again and scored on an error.

“That’s our goal this year, to be super aggressive on the bases and break the school record,” Parrish said. “The few practices we do get, that’s one of the huge things we work on.”

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