Miners begin season by sweeping Rockets

Austin Hemmingson | Daily Press Rapid River’s Kristen Goodacre (30) safely beats the throw to Negaunee second baseman Jess Heroux (14) during Monday’s doubleheader at Rapid River.

RAPID RIVER — After four innings of scoreless softball, the Negaunee Miners scored seven runs over the final three innings to upend Rapid River 7-0 in the first game of a doubleheader here Monday afternoon. The Miners carried that momentum into the second game, which they won 17-1 in four innings.

Skylar Hall pitched a complete game one-hitter with 14 strikeouts to lead the Miners in the opener. Kaleigh Duncan had three hits and Hannah Voskuhl added two.

“I’m super proud of the girls,” Miners’ coach Randy Carlson said. “I knew we were gonna start a little bit slow because we haven’t seen any live pitching other than our own pitchers. It took us a little while to get into it, but once the girls got into it I was really happy with the way they swang the bats. I was really happy with our defense. We only gave up two hits — one in each game.. so I was really happy all-around.”

Natalie Belanger took the loss for the Rockets (6-2), allowing seven runs, eight hits and striking out four over the full seven innings. Cecelia Pilon had the Rockets’ only hit.

The Miners (2-0) quickly got the scoring started with three runs in the bottom of the first in the nightcap off of Belanger. After a pair of singles, Katelyn Lammi doubled to left to make it 1-0 and Cassidy Orr followed that up with a two-run single.

Negaunee, playing in its season-opening games, added three more runs in the second to make it 6-0. The inning was highlighted by a two-run double by Abby Nelson. It then took full control with seven runs in the third inning to extend its lead to 13-0.

“I think any time you see a pitcher in both games, that helps you,” Carlson said. “I also think it was a matter of just getting used to seeing live pitching. Once the girls saw her a couple times, some real good at-bats kept coming after that.”

Rockets’ coach George Kanyuh was disappointed with the way his team was unable to respond.

“What I wanted to see tonight was two games with the character and focus of the first four innings of the first game. We were toe-to-toe with them at that point — it was 0-0,” Kanyuh said. “We had one bad inning and that was the turning point in the game. From that point on, our team did not rise to the occasion tonight. The second game was a test of our character, and we failed miserably. It’s not the end of the world, but these girls did not put their best foot forward in the second game.”

The Miners tacked on four insurance runs in the fourth before the Rockets got their lone run of the day. Kristen Goodacre led off the bottom of the fourth with a double to rightfield and she scored from third on a groundout to the pitcher by Jaden Schwartz.

Nelson pitched for the Miners, giving up just one hit, one walk and one run while striking out two. Belanger took a second loss, giving up 17 runs on 11 hits while walking four and striking out two.

Carlson was pleased with the dominant performance, but knows his team has to stay on an even keel.

“It’s great to see that, but it’s also one of those things where we’re gonna get brought back to earth tomorrow because we play Escanaba,” he said. “They’ve got one of the best pitchers in the state (Gabi Salo), if not the best pitcher in the state. That’s gonna be a great test. I know these girls aren’t gonna be afraid. I’m just glad we were able to go against somebody before we had to face her.”

For the Rockets, Kanyuh wants to see his team respond in a positive way.

“It’s not gonna be an overnight process, but the team needs to do a gut-check and look in the mirror to see how they want the rest of their year to go,” he said. “Things came unraveled tonight but we’ve got time to clean it up. I don’t wanna make it all seem like doom and gloom.. we’re eight games into the season. If this was gonna happen, I’m actually kinda glad it happened early in the year. If we did this a week before districts we’d be in trouble.”

The Miners visit Escanaba today, while the Rockets visit Esky Wednesday.

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