ESCANABA - The Escanaba Junior girls (age 13-14) scored in spades Friday night to drop Baraga County 27-2 and 17-0 and claim the sectional tournament victory to secure a berth in the state tournament in Clare on Thursday.
Escanaba held an early 3-0 lead heading into the third inning of game two when they lit up the scoreboard with seven runs and had the bases loaded on three separate occasions.
Taylor Segorski got a base hit to knock in Jerica McAlpine, then Katie Ross was walked before rounding the bases on steals and scoring on a passed ball to make it 6-0.
Justin Marietti |?Daily Press
Kayla VanPortfleit connects with the ball during the fifth inning of game two during the Junior girls Little League sectional tournament against Baraga County, Friday night at Lemerand Field.
Aubrey Saunders was walked to load the bases for the second time, and Claire McInerney ripped a double to send two runs home.
It seemed as though Escanaba could do almost nothing wrong offensively, as Emily Bruntjens scored a base hit and an RBI on a bunt, then Bruntjens scored on another passed ball to give Esky a 10-0 advantage.
"We started out a little slow, but then we really started to hit the ball," said Escanaba coach Jamie Segorski. "They put a lot of pressure on our defense when we started to get runners on base, but we kept putting the ball in play and it just added a lot of stress on them. We had a good day."
Escanaba added five more runs in the fourth inning as Bruntjens, Taylor Gauthier, and Tossi Martinez all hit doubles. Ross and Segorski also added singles, and Bruntjens and Ross both drove in two runs apiece.
The shutout was due to the stifling pitching efforts from JJ Laviolette, Kayla Vanportfliet, and Katie Ross.
Baraga coach Brandon Marinich said Escanaba is a tough team to match up against because of their all-around skill in every area of the game.
"They've got good hitting and good pitchers," he said. "We were a little overmatched, but we're young. We'll be here next year to give them a run. I couldn't be more proud of (my girls). They practiced hard all year long.
"We hurt ourselves a lot with the errors, and I think we could have been in the game without them. Either way, I'm proud of them."
He added that he expects Escanaba will make a run in the state tournament, and he hopes they make it to the World Series again.
Segorski added that the state tournament is not exactly a new experience for some of the girls on his team.
"We have a good idea of what we're going to see," he said.
"We'll take the next few days and we'll crank up the pitching a little bit, and work on staying back on change ups. We'll just continue on with the same drills we've been doing, and everything will kind of progress."