Braves win tournament

Courtesy photo by Scott Balenger Gladstone’s Natalie Hanson (right) gets a hit against Tawas during the Tawas invitational tournament championship game Saturday in Tawas.

TAWAS CITY — The Gladstone Braves captured top honors in the Tawas Area Invitational softball tournament here Saturday, posting a 9-2 victory over the host team in the title game.

Gladstone collected 14 hits, led by Sydney Herioux and Taylor Trudeau with three apiece. Taelor Zeise and Jenna Tardiff had two each.

Winning pitcher Andie Balanger struck out three, walked one and allowed seven hits in the finale.

The Braves (28-4) reached the title contest by blanking Lincoln-Alcona 11-0 in four innings.

Balenger fanned two and walked one in the first and Tardiff whiffed two, walked one and gave up three hits in the next two frames.

Zeise and Herioux had two hits each and Morgan Letteriello clubbed a solo home run.

Gladstone had 11 hits against the Tigers.

In their opener, the Braves overcame an early six-run deficit to rally past Alma 11-10.

Letteriello collected four hits, including a solo shot. Trudeau and Tardiff added two hits each and Balenger ended the contest with a walk-off triple.

“We had to fight our way back,” said Braves’ coach John Nevala. “We had one bad inning in the field, then we settled down. We started hitting the ball and playing good defense.”

Balenger took the win, striking out four, walking one and allowing eight hits.

“Andie was pitching good,” said Nevala.

“A few miscues in the field didn’t help the cause. Although, that was a great comeback by the girls. They kept attacking the ball and that gave us some momentum for the rest of the day. I’m very pleased with the way we played as a team.”

The Braves then unleashed a 12-hit attack in a 13-5 conquest of West Branch Ogemaw Heights in five innings.

Herioux and Natalie Hanson collected three hits apiece. Trudeau added two hits, including a grand slam.

“Taylor’s grand slam kind of blew it open,” said Nevala. “We held them in the bottom of the fifth and the game was over.”

Letteriello pitched the entire contest for the win. She fanned four, walked one and gave up nine hits.

The Braves visit Escanaba for a doubleheader Tuesday.