NEW BOSTON, Mich. - Sometimes the other team is simply better.
In a Senior Little League (age 15-16) state championship game against Cadillac, Sunday, the Escanaba All-Stars did a lot right, but Cadillac may have been a team of destiny, taking the state title with a 4-2 victory.
On Saturday, Cadillac was one out away from being mercied, playing Edwardsburg. Amazingly they rallied back in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 10-run (12-2) deficit. Cadillac scored 11 runs with their final four outs to beat Edwardsburg 13-12. With that kind of momentum, Cadillac would not be stopped.
"They showed their resiliancy all through the tournament," said Esky manager Jamie Segorski. "They're a good team, one of the best hitting teams I've seen. They scored runs in bunches."
Cadillac also had a shutdown pitcher in Megan Burton. She allowed just four hits and walked one in earning the complete game victory.
"We went up against a big lefty and she moved the ball real well," said Segorski. "She's one of the better pitchers I've seen at any level. She pitched Clinton's high school team to a state semifinal. She's the real deal."
Escanaba led 1-0 in the first inning with only one base runner. Emily Bruntjens ripped a single, stole second, advanced to third on a grounder and scored on a wild pitch.
Emily LaFave also had a hit later on and Mackenzie Leisner had two hits.
"Mackenzie Leisner played shortstop all weekend and her bat was on fire all weekend," said Segorski.
Clinton scored twice in the second inning and two more in the third to take a 4-1 lead which it didn't relinquish.
"We didn't strike out, we put the ball in play and they made some great plays. We just didn't find the holes," said Segorski.
"It's always tough. We had a little flexibility taken away with Aubree Saunders (who played with a hamstring injury suffered in the semifinal). She played a fantastic defensive game with an injury and really gutted it out at third base. She showed a lot of heart. That said, we had to DH for her, so we didn't have anyone to take off the bench to run bases. It's such a luxury to
have that speed on the basepaths. It really tied our hands."
Katie Ross absorbed the loss after giving up two unearned runs.
"Katie Ross and Sam Connor pitched an unbelivable tournament," said Segorski. "Sam was 2-0 and Katie was 2-1, and Taylor Segorski caught a fantastic tournament. Out of six steal attempts, she threw out five girls and kept the ball in front of her. Together as a team, the girls played fantastic."
Escanaba came into the title game 4-0 through pool play and the state title game. On Friday, in pool play, Escanaba defeated Clinton 11-9, but earlier in that game led 11-2.
On Saturday in the state semifinal, Escanaba routed Sault Ste. Marie 15-2 in six innings.
With some of the girls on the team having played in the Junior League World Series two seasons ago, the end at the state level was somewhat disappointing, but Segorski said it certainly wasn't due to lack of effort.
"It's always disappointing to lose a championship game, but the girls played with a lot of courage and a ton of heart. I can't say enough," he said.
"They knew we would have girls playing out of position and doing different things and they took it in stride.
"We were there. Clinton had a couple nice ones that just fell in. We had to battle to keep runs off the board as they had baserunners in every inning. We minimized the damage, we just weren't able to push runs across."