7A Cherry softball banking on its experience

CHERRY — The Cherry High School softball team has had somewhat of a stranglehold on the Section 7A title game.

The Tigers have been to the finals in 16 of the past 21 seasons, so they know what to expect in that big game.

Cherry coach Darrell Bjerklie is hoping that experience comes in handy today when the undefeated Tigers take on Barnum in a 3 p.m. Section 7A contest at the Grand Rapids Sports Complex.

Being in that situation so many times has given Bjerklie and his coaching staff plenty of opportunities to learn from past mistakes.

“It helps the coaching staff in that we’re used to the unpredictable situations that arise,” Bjerklie said. “We know how to handle future unpredictable situations that come up. We’ve gained a lot of red ribbons before learning a lot of the different situations and adjustments you need to make.”

Those changes don’t come as a surprise to Bjerlie’s team.

“It’s a work in progress, but they’re getting better at it,” Bjerklie said. “Scott (Sauter) and I have noticed growth in the team in situations like that, handling adversity, handling changes that the coaches make.

“It’s all a part of that adversity and understanding the coaches are doing their job and the players are doing their job. It’s not personal.”

The Tigers didn’t have much adversity on Tuesday against the Bombers.

Even though Cherry trailed 5-4 at one point, the Tigers rallied for seven runs in the fifth inning to put that game away 14-4.

But Bjerklie doesn’t want his team to think about that game. It’s a brand-new day.

“You can’t live in your past,” Bjerklie said. “We can’t take things for granted. We can’t be looking ahead. We have to forget about our record and think about this game. We have to take the same approach we took in that game and use it in this game.

“It’s another game. We have to get ready for it. We have to have the confidence to look back on our past successes.”

Just because that score was lopsided doesn’t mean this game will play out the same.

“I do expect a battle from them,” Bjerklie said. “They always battle back. They have good hitters. We have to counter that as we did that night. It all depends on how the game swings and what we do.

“In my head, I’m always thinking about all kinds of scenarios, and what we can do. We have to be fluid and adjust. They don’t have to worry about what I do. They have to do what I ask them to do.”

The one thing Bjerklie wants them to do is be aggressive at the plate.

“We’re an aggressive team,” he said. “That’s where we’ve worked to get them all year. Other coaches know that being aggressive is a good thing. That puts pressure on the other team, but there’s a point where you can’t be wild.

“We’ll try to be aggressive. I’m hopeful that our defense, pitching and hitting comes together. They key is going to be the team that handles the moment the best will have a good day.”

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