ESCANABA - The Escanaba Eskymos made use of the long ball when needed Friday night as they swept to 8-7 and 5-3 softball victories over the Cheboygan Chiefs.
Sophomore Becca Piron clubbed a three-run homer to left-centerfield to give Esky an 8-5 advantage in the fifth inning of the opener.
Senior Codi Jenshak then ripped a fifth-inning solo shot over the left field fence to end the scoring in the second game.
Justin Marietti | Daily Press
Escanaba’s Jaymie Frappier gets ready to pitch as first baseman Brianna Belanger looks on during the first game of their doubleheader against the Cheboygan, Wis. Chiefs Friday.
"It (the ball) came right down the middle and I felt it hit the sweet spot," Jenshak said of her third homer this season and first since late March at the Superior Dome in Marquette. "It's great to get that feeling back. We didn't play any games in April. It was crazy. Winter lasted so long this year. It seemed like it lasted forever. But it definitely feels like we're back in the groove."
Esky, winner of four straight, also benefitted from a key defensive play in the seventh.
Centerfielder Ashley Cook made a running catch on a flyball by Aspen Williams, robbing her of a possible extra-base hit for the second out.
"Ashley ran a long way and made a good catch," said Esky coach Dave Bosilovatz. "Ashley is typically a rightfielder, which makes that play even more impressive. The girls played great."
The contest ended moments later when losing pitcher Corrie Bongard popped to second.
"That girl (Williams) hit the ball pretty good, and they had the meat of their order coming up," said Jenshak, who will enroll at St. Norbert College this fall. "But Cookie is pretty quick. She's able to get to a lot of flyballs. It was sure nice that she could make that catch. It was also nice to have a two-run cushion to work with because that took a little of the pressure off. I was able to throw with a little more confidence."
Esky (9-4) gained a 4-1 advantage by scoring three times in the second.
Back-to-back doubles to left by Syd Gafner and Piron gave the Eskymos a 2-1 lead. Cook's sacrifice fly to right made it 3-1 and Emily Bogaudo's double to right-center raised the count to 4-1.
Williams, who led off Cheboygan's third with a triple to left, trimmed its deficit to 4-2 on Bongard's sacrifice fly to second.
The Chiefs then climbed within 4-3 on Bridget Blaskowski's single to center in the fourth.
Bongard had also retired the Eskymos in order in the third and fourth prior to allowing the homer to Jenshak.
"Corrie was getting into a rhythm," said Cheboygan manager Mike LaLonde. "We also had a little momentum for a little bit. We had baserunners in scoring position in just about every inning. We just couldn't get the big hit."
The Chiefs (19-5) opened the scoring on Bongard's single to center.
Esky tied the score on Michelle LaFave's single to left-center in its half of the inning.
The Eskymos finished with eight hits, including two each by LaFave and Jenshak.
Jenshak struck out two, walked four and allowed five hits. Bongard fanned three and walked one.
In the opener, the Eskymos overcame a 5-3 deficit by scoring five times in the fifth.
Cheboygan gained a 4-0 advantage on a solo homer by Kelcey Blaskowski in the fourth.
Esky closed within 4-3 in its half of the fourth. The Chiefs, however, got a run back in the fifth for their two-run cushion.
After Esky's big fifth, the Chiefs closed within their final one-run deficit with a pair of runs in the sixth.
Jenshak had a pair of hits in Game 1. Williams and Blaskowski also had two apiece.
Jaymie Frappier, who whiffed five and gave up six hits, took the win.
Both teams resume in today's Escanaba Lions/Gregg Johnson Memorial Challenge.
The Eskymos open against Sault Ste. Marie and Cheboygan faces Rapid River at 10 a.m.
"We hope to see a lot of people here for our tournament," said Bosilovatz. "Fans should get to see a lot of good softball."