ESCANABA - It has been seven years since the Escanaba Eskymos softball team has earned a Division II regional berth, So, for these girls this is uncharted territory. Think that makes them apprehensive? Think again.
"I like being in spots with clutch pressure," said a confident Codi Jenshak Wednesday afternoon at practice. Jenshak, the team's go-to pitcher, was brilliant in district as she only allowed seven hits over the two games, allowing just one run.
"It's gone really well. Everything is working. I like it (pitching) and I'm confident in my teammates," she said.
The Eskymos will head to West Branch Ogemaw Heights Saturday to face Howard Tri-County (10-20) at 10 a.m. At approximately noon Fremont will face Cadillac with the title game slated for 2 p.m.
Escanaba coach John LaMarch has done some research on the teams and has a decent idea of what his team is up against.
"We looked at the schedules, searching for common opponents and we found one in Gaylord. We beat them earlier this season so that gives us confidence, but you still have to play the game," he said.
"We're reading about the teams. We know Cadillac has a good program and Fremont has this girl, McKenzie Supernaw, who is a super pitcher. They'll be quite a challenge if we get that far."
LaMarch noted Fremont is likely the team to beat.
"Going on past performance, Fremont was in the quarterfinals last year. Supernaw (a Grand Valley State University recruit) got her 100th win this season," he said.
Howard TC won their district with a 5-2 victory over Cedar Springs, sparked by a 3-run eighth inning.
The Eskymos (23-13) are using the few days leading up to hone their skills.
"We're brushing up on a lot of things right now. we're working on bat speed, faster pitching, just working our confidence," LaMarch said.
For the seniors on the team, like Mallory Zimmerman, the post-season can be a roller-coaster of emotions knowing the next game may be the last.
"It's been really emotional," Zimmerman said. "This is the last sport of the season in my last year here. I don't want it to end.
"There's been no added pressure, but I put pressure on myself. One of my goals as a freshman was to make it past districts," she said, also noting that a regional appearance was a team goal this season.
Knowing that at this level anything can happen, LaMarch is taking a cooly confident, if not relaxed approach.
"We're going to try to play our game and hopefully we'll stack up the way we think we can. They have high school girls just like ours. If we play to our ability, why not us?"