Gladstone major girls begin pool play with pair of wins

TECUMSEH, Mich. — The Gladstone Major Girls’ All-Stars (age 11-12) put together a pair of strong softball performances in pool play to start their state tournament here this weekend.

Gladstone downed tournament host Tecumseh 5-1 Saturday and followed that with a 3-1 triumph over Evart Sunday.

In Saturday’s opener, Gladstone trailed 1-0 after Tecumseh’s Wendy Ketola hit an inside-the-park home run in the third inning.

But Gladstone responded right after, scoring a pair of runs in the fourth. Lauren Sundquist led off the inning with a base hit, followed by a single by Maggie Buckley. Montgomery Pepin then drove in Sundquist with an RBI groundout to shortstop, followed by another RBI groundout to shortstop by Rylee Gerow to make it 2-1.

Gladstone put the game away in the fifth with three runs. Camryn Buckley started the inning by coming off the bench to hit a one-hopper to the fence for a double with two strikes on her. After Tia Schone walked, Sundquist singled to center to score a pair of runs.

Pepin earned the win on the hill, finishing with 13 strikeouts, one walk and just three hits allowed.

“I think her previous experience plays a role in that,” Gladstone manager Rick Pepin said. “The combination of her being here in the state championship when she was 10 years old and the travel ball helps a lot. She struck seven of the last nine batters, so she got stronger as the game went on. She got into that pitcher’s zone.”

Sundquist and Maggie Buckley each went 2 for 3 for Gladstone, which didn’t commit a single error.

Gladstone continued its strong play Sunday, jumping out to a 1-0 lead over Evart with a run in the second inning. Pepin led off with a triple on a misplayed ball by the right fielder, and Gerow drove her in with a hard line drive single to right.

Gladstone then added to its lead in the fifth. Alli Larson led off with a single to right, setting the stage for Camryn Buckley to hit another bomb to the left-center fence with two strikes on her to score Larson. She got a triple on the play and scored when a wild throw to third base made it to the dugout.

“I’m just really impressed with Camryn Buckley,” manager Pepin said. “She’s an 11 year-old in the shadow of her sister on a 12 year-old All-Star team. Two days in a row she comes off the bench and hits two bombs with two strikes on her. I’m really proud of her. What a great moment for such a great kid.”

Evart scored its lone run in the sixth.

Pepin earned another victory, allowing just one run on five hits while walking one and fanning 10.

“Montgomery and her catcher (Sundquist) had to overcome a tough strike zone today,” manager Pepin said. “It was almost like you had to hit a coffee can, so unfortunately she had to throw the ball right over the center of the plate. The defense had to play well, and Montgomery and Lauren did a good job working through it.”

Gladstone plays St. Clair at 9 a.m. today for its final game in pool play with a chance to lock up the No. 1 seed in the state tournament starting Tuesday.