Escanaba set for Minor state tourney
Little League softball
ESCANABA — Many agree success in fast-pitch softball and building a winning team comes from the pitcher’s circle.
Escanaba’s Minor Girls Little League All-Stars (age 9-10) have those success steps in place led by pitcher Madison Mott and by winning the district championship last week over Gladstone.
Esky’s 10-player team next plays at the 16-team, Little League softball state championship in downstate Jackson.
Escanaba opens pool play on Friday at 3:45 p.m. against Jackson Southwest.
“The girls are excited and it is the first time playing in a state tournament,” said Escanaba manager Steve Braun.
“At districts we really started to hit the ball and run the bases well and we expect to be facing excellent competition this weekend.”
Escanaba won three straight games to win the district crown including 7-5 and 12-1 victories over rival Gladstone with Braun’s team improving throughout the districts and complementing pitching star Mott.
“This is a pitcher’s game and to have Maddy is a great thing for us,” said Braun.
“She is a great kid. Maddy works hard and everybody who has seen her pitch can see that. You can tell she put the time and effort in. On defense we are anchored by Maddy, but we are making the plays behind her as a team.”
Braun said he and his coaching staff are enjoying preparing the Esky team for the tournaments and sees the all-stars coming together following the past month of playing and practicing together.
Other team members are Chloe DuBord, Mary Kate Tourangeau, Lily Van Damme, Breleigh Reinhart, Clara Braun, Jenessa Platt, Addison Noblet, Izzabella Jackson and Brooklyn Beauchamp.
Assistant coaches are John Noblet, Jude Van Damme and Jaimee Tourangeau.
Competing in Escanaba’s four-team pool include Saturday’s 12:45 game opponent Edwardsburg and Sunday 10 a.m. against Georgetown.
“Our team is a mix of several players who have played softball for years and a few who are playing in their first all-star competition and tournaments,” said Braun.
“The confidence for everybody is growing every practice. We faced and beat a good pitcher (Gladstone’s Tia Schone) twice at districts and she throws hard. We are facing Maddy in practice this week so we are up there to hit and we expect them to hit every single time.”
Braun added the team support and Escanaba community helping with the expenses involved with tournament travel and his team’s upcoming trip.
“The community support has been really great for us,” said Braun.
“We have had several businesses and individuals who have contributed for our team travel expenses.
“It has been phenomenal for everybody helping out.”
Manager Braun likes his team’s chances at the state tournament and having a pitcher the caliber of Mott is step one to success.
“We think she (Maddy) is one of the best pitchers. As a team we are confident in Maddy and we are all growing in confidence, trying to get better every day,” said Braun.
“They all want to get there and are excited about playing.”
The Escanaba team plans to leave today with tournament opening ceremonies and the parade of teams Friday morning in Jackson.
The tournament’s opening games in pool play begin 10 a.m. Friday.
The top two teams in each of the four pools advance to Monday’s final eight.