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Renaissance hangs on for eighth straight PSL title

Cass Tech base runner Destinee Russell (23) beats a throw going into second in the May 18 PSL Championship at Detroit Mercy won by Renaissance 6-4. Renaissance Cierra Smith (3) pursues play. CHUCK JOHNSON, DPS PHOTO

Girls Softball Roundup — Week 7
Phoenix pitcher Banks strikes out 15 as late seventh inning rally falls short for Cass Tech

By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to The Michigan Citizen

Renaissance won their eighth straight Detroit Public School League Championship, but it wasn’t easy as the Phoenix (21-5) had to withstand a seventh inning rally by Cass Tech to clinch a 6-4 win in front of a full house at Busyee Field on the campus of the University of Detroit Mercy on May 18. Senior Kayla Banks was the winning pitcher for Renaissance as she struck out 15 Technicians at the plate. It was also her third-straight win in the PSL Championship on the mound.

“It’s great to pitch to another championship like I did my sophomore and junior years,” said Banks. “I’m proud of myself and my teammates.

“We had a couple of bumps in the middle of the game, but we made it through. I never usually get nervous, but I knew my team had my back in the last inning. It was a sound win.”

Banks struck out the three first batters she faced in the first inning. Renaissance jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in their half of the first when the Phoenix loaded the bases with one out. Senior catcher Kenya Mallet got the Phoenix their first run when she scored from third due to a wild pitch by Cass Tech sophomore pitcher Taryn Butler. Then freshman infielder Lyric Elliot scored on a force play to make the score 2-0 Renaissance after one inning of play.

The Phoenix made it 3-0 in the second when senior outfielder Tylar Tidwell walked with one out and scored on a two-out double by freshman shortstop Brianna Lawrence. Both Banks and Butler pitched two scoreless innings after that.

It seemed the game was getting away from Cass Tech when Renaissance extended their lead to 5-0 in their half of the fifth when Elliot and freshman Essence England reached base then scored on a ground out force play.

Cass Tech got its first run of the game in their half of the sixth when junior infielder De’jah Darkins led off with a triple and came home on a wild pitch. Renaissance made it 6-1 in their half of the sixth when an Elliot single scored Mallet from second.

With the game at 6-1 for Renaissance in the top of the seventh, it looked like the game was in hand for Banks and the Phoenix. But Cass Tech, who came from behind in both playoff games against Mumford and Western International, started an early rally. Junior infielder Sashay Lurry led off with a single. Junior outfielder Keonna Gray came in as a pinch runner and stole second and third while freshman Kiera Ware was at the plate. Ware then double to drive home Gray to make it 6-2 Renaissance.

But Banks got hot as she struck out the next two batters. The Phoenix were one out away, but the Technicians refused to surrender. Junior Tierra Traylor got on base on an infield hit and Darkins was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Freshman catcher Zuri Dean delivered a blow to cut the Phoenix lead to 6-4 when she singled home Gray and Traylor. With runners at second and third and two outs, Banks struck out Butler for her 15th strikeout to end the game.

“It feels good to win eight in a row,” said Renaissance head coach Gerrard Taylor. “It was the hard way and we did it. We took their best and we hung in there.”

“I’m extremely proud of the kids,” said Phoenix assistant coach Leroy Holmes. “We sort of lost our composure in the last inning, but we were able to keep the task in check. I was expecting to win and we did. We did what we had to do and that was to win.”

Cass Tech head coach Julie Schneider kept things in perspective.

“Our team improved much this year,” she said. “They fought and dug their way to get here.

“We’ve been improving constantly throughout these games and I believe we could stay in the games we’ve played. We didn’t fall down and stayed with it. We were down against Mumford and Western and fought back. I believe we came through better than expected. We have no seniors on our squad. We have four juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen that started this year. They’re still learning the game and I expect them to stand tall for us and themselves.”

In the consolation game, Southeastern took third place, defeating Eastern International 23-8 in three innings because of time constraints.


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