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Trombley delivers final blow, Braves win 24th straight softball district title

The 2024 Gladstone softball team poses for a photo with its district championship trophy on May 31, 2024 at Menominee High School. (Courtesy photo Rick Pepin)

MENOMINEE –Postseason action creates high pressure situations. In those situations one of two things happen: athletes crumble or, when the heat reaches full bore, something magical is created.

For rocks, it’s the chance to become a diamond. But for Gladstone freshman Emma Trombley, the pressure from Friday’s MHSAA Division 3 softball district championship game gave her the chance to become a hero as the Braves defeated Menominee in extra innings to claim the program’s 24th straight district title.

It was the bottom of the eighth, one out. The Braves clung to a 4-3 after a narrow back-and-forth showdown between two Grate Northern Conference rivals. The Maroons had runners on first and second with one out when Savannah Houle came to bat with an opportunity to give Menominee the ultimate upset win.

Houle swung at the first pitch she saw. It became a routine fly ball to Trombley, who was patrolling center field. Trombley secured the second out, but she saw a Menominee base runner attempting to move up to third base.

Keyword here is attempted.

Trombley fired a dart from the middle of centerfield. Her throw threaded the needle into the glove of Gladstone freshman third baseman Madison Sundquist. She applied the tag, securing the final out of the game and the Braves 24th consecutive district title.

“Emma has a great arm, but hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to showcase it,” Braves coach Rick Pepin said. “She never hesitated. She knew the situation and delivered a rocket to third base.

“Our two youngest players connecting the dots under pressure is something we will remember for a long time.”

It was a game where the Braves found ways to rally back despite being behind the eight ball multiple times.

Gladstone found itself down 2-1 after four innings, but got momentum rolling with the top of the order in the fifth. Lauren Sundquist and Reese Herioux led off the frame with back-to-back singles and each swiped a base to get into scoring position with no out.

Montgomery Pepin popped out to second, but Sam Drielick dropped a sacrifice bunt to score Lauren Sundquist and tie the game 2-2.

The Maroons took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth off a passed ball. Lauren Sundquist led off the top of the seventh with a single and stole second to get into scoring position. Herioux struck out and Montgomery Pepin popped out to second once again, sending Drielick to the plate with the season on the line.

She didn’t disappoint, cranking the second pitch of the at-bat deep to centerfield for a RBI double to tie the game a 3-3.

Montgomery Pepin retired the Braves in order to send the game into extra innings.

Allie Larson and Brooklyn Pendergraft struckout to start the eighth. Then Trombley was scheduled to come to the plate, but was substituted to senior Joelle Jordan, who spent the first three years of her high school career at home school.

Jordan found herself down to her final strike, but drove a pitch opposite field for a base hit. Trombley re-entered to run. Lauren Sundquist then mashed her third base hit of the game. A Maroons error put Trombley and third, Lauren Sundquist at second and Herioux to the plate to turn what could have been an opportunity missed to new life.

Like Jordan, Herioux found herself down 0-2 in the count. Madelyne Barker’s attempted putout pitch went wild, and Trombley scored from third to give the Braves a 4-3 lead.

“We put Joelle in a tough spot with the season on the line,” Rick Pepin said. “All she did was generate a big-time hit under some big pressure to once again keep us alive.”

Lauren Sundquist finished 3-for-4 with four stolen bases and two runs scored. Madison Sundquist finished 2-for-4.

Montgomery Pepin allowed three runs (two earned) off four hits with seven walks and 12 strikeouts.

The Braves knock off Iron Mountain in their district semifinal matchup.

Montgomery Pstruck out 11 and walked five in five hitless innings of work. Gladstone tacked on 19 hits.

Lauren Sundquist finished 4-for-4 with four RBI and four runs scored with a double and a stolen base.

Herioux smacked two of Gladstone’s six doubles while scoring four runs, drove in three and walked three times.

Bay College commit Rylee Gerow finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a RBI, a double and a stolen base.

Madison Sundquist finished 2-for-4 wit two RBI and a double. Drielick went 2-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored.

The Maroons defeated Manistique 10-0 in their semifinal matchup.

The Braves host regional action on June 8. The Braves face Boyne City at noon. Gladstone defeated Boyne City 11-1on May 17.

A win over the Ramblers sets up a regional championship matchup against the winner of June 8’s semifinal matchup between Grayling and Houghton.

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