ESCANABA - It didn't take long for the Grandville Minor Girls' (age 9-10) All-Stars to gain the upper hand Wednesday as they blanked Negaunee 10-0 in five innings in a state semifinal softball game at Lemerand Park.
Grandville's Kyleigh Moll led off the first with a double to leftfield and scored the first run on Amber Mastberger's bunt single. Courtney Hardin gave the winners a 2-0 lead on a single to left, then scored the third run on an error.
"I think that set the tone for us," said Grandville manager Heidi Hardin. "It's contagious. It seems like when one girl starts hitting, the others will start. Also, our fans are very supportive. They're all there for us and understand what we have to do. This is just as much fun for them as for the girls."
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Grandville’s Jackie Sundstrom slides into home to score, beating the tag from Negaunee pitcher Karlie Patron during Wednesday’s Minor League State Semifinal at Lemerand Park. See CU.dailypress.net for more photos.
The victory enables Grandville to face Jackson Northwest in today's title contest at 2.
Grandville gained a four-run cushion in the third on Hardin's sacrifice bunt, then raised the score to 6-0 in the fourth by taking advantage of four walks and Jackie Sundstrom's RBI double to left.
Grandville added four runs in the fifth, including one on Maddie Gkekas' triple to center.
"They're a very, very solid team," Negaunee manager Mark Menhennick said of Grandville. "Their hitting and pitching is very good. We tried not to let their early runs set the tone."
Morgan Carlson went 2-for-2 for Negaunee, which stranded seven baserunners, including three in the fourth.
"We had several runners in scoring position, but couldn't capitalize," said Menhennick. "They kept making plays. They were flawless out there."
Grandville collected seven hits, with Moll leading the way with two.
"The girls did great," said manager Hardin. "They hadn't seen a pitcher that fast, but they did it (win the game). Negaunee is a very good team. They're well coached and their girls are very polite. They had a couple opportunities and that's why we burned up one of our top pitchers. Otherwise, our pitchers normally go two innings at a time."
Sami Slager pitched the entire game for the win. She struck out two, walked two, hit a batter and scattered four hits.
Karlie Patron also went the distance and took the loss. She fanned 13, including six in a row in the opening two frames. and walked six.
"Karlie is as solid as they come," said Menhennick. "I'd put her on the mound any day of the week."
Negaunee committee three errors and Grandville had none.