Gladstone swept by Knights
GLADSTONE — It was the regular-season finale for both softball teams, and they both doubled down on the defensive end. The opener was tied at one and extended through the ninth for a Norway victory 3-1, and the Knights picked up a second win over Gladstone in the shortened nightcap 6-1 Tuesday in Gladstone.
The Knights rode the momentum of their opening win into the nightcap, amassing five runs in the top of the first inning.
“Our bats stayed hot, … and I think that was the key to set the tone,” Knights coach Robert Bal said. “The girls were fired up. That’s what we need on Friday. We need the girls to be involved. I think the end of the first game set the tone for the second game.”
Norway put two on right away after an error at first base and a fly double to right. Averie Popp took the opportunity and barreled a fly ball deep into left field, scoring Kali Stanchina and Hannah Burklund and earning herself a triple.
The Knights compounded their lead with a home run over left field fence from Donna VanHolla that drove in two more and extended their lead to 4-0. The Knights added one more before exiting the inning.
The bottom of the first and the whole of the second went by with three-and-outs, including a high-effort catch from Gladstone’s Samara Sanville behind the plate.
“We played well defensively,” Braves coach Rick Pepin. “We had some girls make big plays. Maggie Buckley, our centerfielder, not once but twice, threw runners out from center field to home. Addie Trombley got run over, not once but twice, at home and finished the play.
“We can compete with anyone defensively, but for some reason, we aren’t producing at the plate. We have to have that hitter’s mentality. We have to figure it out. We have to figure out how we’re approaching our at-bats for Friday.”
Norway added one more in the top of the fourth to seal the game.
The Braves’ sole run came in the bottom of the fourth after Marnea LaFave drew a walk and advanced to second.
After a strikeout, Sanville’s ground single to center gave LaFave the opportunity to cross home plate. Two flyouts followed to finish the shortened game.
Gladstone’s Rylee Gerow absorbed the loss for the Braves, allowing 11 hits, one walk and six runs (5 ER).
Stanchina earned the win for the Knights over two innings, striking out one.
Burklund pitched two in relief, allowing one hit, one walk and one run while striking out four.
“Our pitcher did an excellent job tonight,” Bal said. “Our second pitcher came in and pitched good. I’d also like to mention my right fielder, Taylor (Adams). She had (a lot) of big catches. She had six outs in the first game herself.”
Sanville picked up Gladstone’s sole run and RBI.
Burklund and VanHolla finished with two RBIs and two hits apiece, and Stanchina and Liz Rometti both earned one RBI and one hit apiece. Burklund and Andi Carlson each finished with two hits apiece.
The Knights broke open the opener in the top of the ninth after a double from Carlson and two walks loaded the bases with a single out remaining.
“I think their pitcher got a little tired at the end,” Bal said. “She pitched an excellent game over nine innings. It was just one of those things where we got two girls on and the nine batter … hits it up the middle. That’s huge. … That’s what we need.”
Norway’s Taylor Adams fly single then drove two in to break the tie and seal the game after a three-and-out from the Braves.
“It was a good night,” Bal said. “I’m happy, and I think we’ll be ready for districts come Friday.”
Gladstone hosts Menominee Friday at 3 p.m. for its district opener.
“The girls are going to work really hard in practice over the next couple days, and we’re going to be ready to go on Friday,” Pepin said.
Norway travels to Bark River-Harris Friday for its district opener at 2 p.m.