Cheyenne Beem has had a lot on her mind this week.
Even with the Dexter Regional High School softball team chasing another Class C North title, the senior catcher has been understandably preoccupied.
Her family endured a scare earlier in the week when her dad, Robert Beem, suffered a stroke. But the medical emergency didn’t prevent the senior catcher and her family from enjoying Thursday evening’s Class C North championship game.
Beem cranked a game-changing, two-run double in the fourth inning — with her father cheering from the sidelines — as top-seeded Dexter beat No. 2 Central of Corinth 3-0 at Coffin Field in Brewer.
“It’s been emotional but you know these girls are like sisters,” Beem said. “They’ve all been there for me and it’s been great. I love each and every one of them.”
Coach Jason Hardy’s squad claimed its second straight regional crown and earned a spot in Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. state championship game at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. Dexter (15-2) faces South champ Hall-Dale of Farmingdale (16-0), a 3-0 winner over Madison on Thursday.
The Tigers were the regional champions in 2019, but the 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior Avery Herrick set the tone in the circle for Dexter by pitching an efficient four-hit shutout. The right-hander spaced four singles while striking out nine and did not issue a walk.
“She can hit her spots very well, so we work up, work down,” Hardy said. “We’re able to capitalize on her abilities, with her control, keep hitters off balance.”
Herrick pitched around three errors as the Tigers beat the Red Devils (14-4) for the third time this season. Dexter won the previous meetings 2-0 and 4-2.
“It’s frustrating because we have such a hard time laying off the high ones, which she throws like every few pitches, and then she’s got her changeup,” Central senior Kaelyn Parks said.
Parks, a hard-throwing right-hander, took the loss. She surrendered six hits, fanned nine and also did not issue a walk.
However, Dexter was able to come up with key hits and cash in on a couple of scoring opportunities.
The Tigers broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning. Peyton Grant led off by reaching on an error on a ball hit toward the middle. Herrick followed with an infield single to the shortstop hole.
One out later, Beem belted an 0-2 pitch from Parks to center field that hit halfway up the fence. It scored Grant and Herrick to make it 2-0.
“It was awesome. I started to cry,” Beem said. “My dad hasn’t been great, the past few days, in the hospital and he’s here today, so I was really hoping that it would be gone for him, for him to watch, but it’s OK, we did it.”
Parks retired the next two batters to avoid further damage.
Dexter added an insurance run in the fifth. With one out, Jillean Poliquin slapped a bunt that deflected off the third baseman’s glove for a single and she stole second on the next pitch.
One out later, Grant punched an opposite-field single to right field to score Poliquin.
“It’s hard, because they’re such good hitters,” Parks said of the Tigers. “They put it in play.”
Herrick pitched her way out of a couple of jams to keep Central off the scoreboard.
In the second inning, after two were out, Bayley Casavant poked an opposite-field single to right. Brooke Lunt followed with a bunt single along the first-base line, but Casavant was tagged out after straying off the bag after rounding second.
The Red Devils threatened again in the fourth when Izzy Allen scorched a one-out single to center field and took second when the ball got past the center fielder.
Herrick got a called third strike for the second out, but Gabby Poulin ripped a hot infield single off the glove of the third baseman and alertly took second as Allen drew the fielders’ attention by dancing along the third-base line.
Herrick induced a groundout to escape the jam, then retired nine of the last 11 batters she faced. Two reached on fielding errors.