KIRKLAND, Wash. - The Escanaba Junior (age 13-14) girls are glad to be coming home. Though a 16-0 run from the start of the area tournament right through the Central Regional got them to the Junior League Softball World Series, it became evident there was a sharp rise in talent on the world stage.
Escanaba's magical run ended Saturday in the fifth place game, as Honaker, Va. rolled 7-0. It was Esky's second loss to Honaker in the tournament and wrapped up a 1-4 week. Escanaba will return as the sixth best team in the world. After some reflection, manager Jamie Segorski said that's not too bad at all.
"Being top six in the world in (Junior) Little League is nothing to shake your head at, that's for sure," he said.
Photo courtesy of Marje Heller
Pitcher Callie Heller of Escanaba throws during Friday’s game against West Haven, Conn. Heller earned the victory in that game with four no-hit innings and also pitched Saturday against Honaker,?Va.
Michelle LaFave had two hits in the effort but the Escanaba bats as a whole couldn't get much going against the hot pitching of Honaker.
"We didn't hit real well, but Michelle was solid at the plate all week through this tournament," said Segorski. "We had a lot of highlights throughout. Callie Heller batted close to .700 and did a great job at the plate. Every player one-through-eleven contributed at key times to get us through the regional. It was the bottom three in the lineup that came through, it was a total team effort all the way."
Though the experience was a memorable one, Segorski said his team is happy to be heading home.
"The kids enjoyed the run, but when you get toward the end, you can see it really starts to wear on teams," he said. "We've been travelling for 20 days. Kids want to get home and see their families and friends. They missed the (State) fair, they're missing fall sports, they're ready to go home."
Anchorage, Alaska, representing the West team, won the World Series Saturday with a 6-2 victory over Victoria, B.C., representing Canada. Kirkland, Wash. (the host team) won the third place game 7-3 over Maunabo, Puerto Rico, representing Latin America.
Escanaba flew into Cleveland on Sunday and was making the drive back to Escanaba today. There will be a welcome home reception at Lemerand Field at approxamately 7:30 p.m. tonight.