SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The bats came alive but unfortunately for the Escanaba Senior Girls' Little League (age 15-16) All-Stars, it was an inning too late as they lost 7-4 to South Bend in the opening game of the Central Regional tournament.
Esky was held hitless for the first six innings before they erupted for a five hit, four run seventh.
"I wish we would have just got our bats going a little bit earlier," said Esky manager Michelle Carne. "The girls know that we can hit off this pitcher, it's just getting our bats going anytime other than in the sixth inning."
Shortstop Callie Heller ripped a leadoff double in the seventh, for Esky's first hit. Carne said it was just a matter of getting the momentum going.
"Once one person goes, everybody goes," Carne said. "So it's just getting that leadoff hitter or second on our team to get the girls going a little bit; get some hits right off the bat."
On the next play, Esky laid down a bunt to advance Heller. After a wild throw to third, she made a dash for home plate and collided with the South Bend catcher.
Heller was called out and injured on the play, causing a delay in action. When play resumed Esky continued their comeback as Becca Piron hit a bloop single over the outstretched arm of the second baseman.
Jaymie Frappier capitalized on the situation, blasting a two-run double and cutting South Bend's lead to 7-2.
Esky's Anna Burch, who was pinch running for Frappier, got caught in a pickle between second and third base, leading to the second out. The rally continued with two outs, as Esky got on base with a walk and a Sam Sailer single. Jessica Gill hit a double, scoring both runs and cutting the deficit to 7-4.
"We weren't hitting the ball at first," Gill said. "It just took us awhile to get used to the pitcher because we haven't had that many fast pitchers lately until we started getting here. We can hit off the fast pitchers, it's just that we're not used to it as much as the other pitchers, so we should be good for the rest of the time now."
South Bend jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. They were then held off the board until the sixth inning when they put up five runs to open the game up.
Jaymie Frappier started the game for Esky, before handing the ball over to Sam Connor in the fourth inning. Carne said she was impressed with both pitchers but wants more arms on the mound if the teams meet again.
"I wish I would have made the switch a little earlier," Carne said. "Definitely next time we see them we're going to change pitchers more often so they don't get used to one pitcher. You can definitely tell that they dial in, they settle in, and they all talk about what spots she's hitting, what she's throwing and stuff like that."
Esky recorded five hits, while South Bend racked up 10. Two of South Bend's runs were scored on errors.
Esky is back in action today with a doubleheader against the state champions from Kentucky and Missouri, likely needing to win both as they look to advance to the championship round on Wednesday.