Esky routs Swan Valley, faces Eaton Rapids next

Prep softball

Mike Mattson | Daily Press Escanaba softball pitcher Gabi Salo and catcher Dakota Cloutier celebrate after Saturday’s regional championship win against Remus-Chippewa Hills. Salo and Cloutier helped the Eskymos defeat Saginaw Swan Valley 9-1 Tuesday in a Division 2 quarterfinal game at Central Michigan University.

MOUNT PLEASANT — Escanaba’s Jamie Segorski really likes the view these days from the third-base coaching box.

He’s been watching his softball team light up scoreboards, with homers and plenty of runs in the state tournament. The Esky offense sizzled again Tuesday as the Eskymos blasted Saginaw Swan Valley 9-1 in the Division 2 quarterfinals at Central Michigan University.

“We just smashed the ball,” said Segorski, whose team collected 11 hits. “It was beautiful.”

The win advances the Eskymos to the state semifinals for the third straight season. Esky will face Eaton Rapids Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in a state semifinal contest.

Another trip to East Lansing is just what the doctor ordered for the Eskymos, who suffered a painful 4-2 loss to Richmond in last year’s semifinals.

“We are excited to get back to MSU,” Segorski said.

“We have a bunch of players with experience going back there. The seniors are doing a wonderful job leading. They are keeping everything in check.”

Swan Valley scored one run in the top of the first inning after Callie Burgess singled, advanced on a sacrifice and came home on Emma Bierlein’s single. But Esky sophomore ace pitcher Gabi Salo buckled down the rest of the way, allowing four hits, striking out 14 and walking none.

“Gabi is pitching fantastic and our bats are supporting her,” Segorski said. “They go hand in hand. She feeds off the offense and the offense feeds off her.”

Escanaba answered the Vikings in the bottom of the first when Maddy Griffin launched a two-run homer for a 2-1 lead. Griffin, who belted two home runs against Muskegon Oakridge in the regional semifinals, finished 4-for-4 at the plate.

“Everything she hit, she hit hard,” Segorski said about his third baseman, who hit cleanup Tuesday.

Esky roughed up Swan Valley ace Burgess, who pitched five innings and exited with Esky leading 8-1. Segorski said the Eskymos didn’t panic after falling behind 1-0.

“It was early in the game,” said Segorski, who altered his batting order from Saturday. “We thought we had a good game plan at the plate. We just crowded the plate and took away the inside part of the plate and forced her to hang the ball around the outside of the plate.”

Junior outfielder Lexi Chaillier went 2-for-2 in the leadoff spot and also hit a home run to straight away center field at Margo Jonker Stadium. Freshman Nicole Kamin also had two hits for the Eskymos.

Esky played an errorless game behind Salo, with Segorski crediting Peyton Gustafson for a nifty catch in left field and first baseman Savannah Barron and catcher Dakota Cloutier for their solid play on the day.

Segorski doesn’t know much Eaton Rapids, but he will collect as much information as possible before Esky heads downstate Wednesday night.

What he does know is the Eskymos have three positives on their side — stellar pitching, a high-powered offense and burning desire to get to Saturday’s championship game.