Sizzling bats lift Eskymos past Miners

Prep softball

­­Mike Mattson | Daily Press Escanaba first baseman Savanah Barron, left, attempts a late tag on Negaunee runner Delaney McLaughlin on a pickoff attempt in Wednesday’s first game.

ESCANABA — It may be cold outside this week for softball, but it’s not affecting hot-hitting Taylor Gauthier.

Gauthier, Escanaba’s junior shortstop, belted four home runs Wednesday to help the Eskymos to a doubleheader sweep over Negaunee in their home opener at Lemerand Field. She hit a pair of homers with five RBIs in an 11-1 opener and produced another two homers and five RBIs in the 15-0 nightcap.

Gauthier has hit eight home runs in nine games this young season for the Eskymos (8-1).

“Her bat is just smoking hot right now,” Esky coach Jamie Segorski said. “They aren’t gimmes, either. The last one she hit was probably 240 feet. It was an absolute bomb to straight away right.

She’s not getting cheated on her cuts. She’s patient and she’s getting pitches she can handle and she’s doing everything she can with them.”

Esky is sizzling as a team with a batting average above .600.

“We are hitting the ball so well right now that you kind of hope you can keep it that way,” Segorski said. “Usually you like to gradually get into the season and hit better and better as you go. As a group, I don’t know if we can hit any better than this. Through nine games, we’ve seen some good pitching, especially down in Saginaw where we saw some really good pitching. We’re swinging the bat well.”

In the opener, Katie Ross pitched the first five innings, allowing three hits, striking out nine and walking one. Freshman Gabi Salo came on in relief in the sixth inning.

Claire McInerney led the Eskymos at the plate with four hits, while Taylor Sigorski and Ross each went 3-for-4.

Samantha Carlson had an RBI single for Negaunee and Faith Toutant and Madison McCracken each had one hit.

Hailey Fezatt suffered the loss for Negaunee (3-2)

“We knew coming in they are probably one of the best teams in the state,” Negaunee coach Randy Carlson said. “For our girls, we told them we don’t pay attention to the scoreboard, we just want to come out and play fundamentally sound. We played OK. We only get better by playing a team like that.”

In Game 2, Salo struck out eight and allowed no hits.

Jerikka McAlpine laced four hits, Gauthier added a double to go with her two home runs and Savanah Barron and McInerney each added two hits for the Eskymos.

Esky scored nine runs in the second inning.

Freshman Skylar Hall suffered the loss for the Miners.

“That second game they hit the ball where we weren’t,” Carlson said. ” We really didn’t make any errors. They are good hitters.

“For (Carlson), it was baptism by fire. We told her it is a learning experience and whatever happens don’t get too disheartened. As a freshman coming in, this is a tough team to face. They some balls hard, but it seems a lot of balls found some holes.”

Negaunee will compete in Saturday’s Gladstone Invitational, while Esky will face Rapid River Wednesday.

Segorski said his team is off to a terrific start in the cold weather. He’s been pleased with all aspects of Esky’s game.

“Our pitchers are pitching great,” Segorski said. “Katie was fighting off an injury to her quad. so I give her a ton of credit for gutting it out and getting us through that first game. And Gabi, for a freshman, she holds herself together and keeps her composure. She’s just fantastic on the pitcher’s rubber.

“I think it’s comforting for the two of them because our defense is solid. It’s as good as we’ve ever had. There just isn’t anywhere on the field where it’s weak right now. The girls are picking each other up and supporting each other with great communication. We just hope to continue to improve and see where it takes us.”