Prep softball: Eskymos getting into form

ESCANABA – The Escanaba Eskymos are doing their best to make up for lost time. Saturday at their home Invitational the Esykmos softball team played four games back-to-back-to-back-to-back, going 3-1 on the afternoon. The Rapid River Rockets also had a successful day playing against higher level competition and going 2-1 over three games.

The two Delta County teams met midway through the day, with Escanaba coming out on top 4-1.

It was a clean game with both teams playing at a high level. The Eskymos Jaymie Frappier delivered a strong performance on the mound and the Rockets couldn’t string together consistent hits at the plate. Frappier struck out four, walked none and scattered six hits in earning the victory.

“Jaymie is a good pitcher and she’s starting to get a lot more confidence too,” said Eskymos manager John LaMarch. “She worked hard all winter developing her pitches and she’s starting to believe in them now, and that’s huge.”

The Eskymos took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on Codi Jenshak’s RBI triple. They then tacked on another run in the second. Syd Gafner got on base via a bunt single and then stole second. Frappier ground-out bunted Gafner to third and Brittany Bruce ripped a double to score the run.

The Rockets got on the board in the fourth when Savannah Stenlund launched a solo homer, but the Eskymos raised the stakes in the bottom of the inning.

With Frappier drawing a walk, Ashley Cook, who had flown out right along the centerfield wall twice to that point, got the extra push she needed for a two-run homer over right centerfield to give the Eskymos a 4-1 lead. Cook was batting leadoff on Saturday after regularly holding down the No. 9 spot in the order.

“I’ve been hitting pretty good,” she said. “I’ve never been the leadoff hitter. I’ve always been No. 9.” Cook acknowledged that it was a much stronger Rockets team this time around then when they played in early May on a cold stormy day.

“We mercied them last time, but their pitching was a lot better today. Their defense was too,” she said.

LaMarch praised his right fielder for her performance, which also included a couple of nice grabs along the fence.

“Ashley has really been coming on; we’re excited for her. She’s clubbing the ball. We moved her from 9 to 1 (in the order) and wow!” he said. “She’s feeling it right now and it’s exciting to see a kid do that well and come around. You know the potential is there but you get excited to see them do it. She has speed, and you can’t teach speed.”

Neena Brockway took the loss, as she struck out four, walked one and allowed eight hits.

Earlier in the day against Division 2 Cheboygan, Brockway and the Rockets got a measure of revenge in a 9-0 triumph.

Brockway, who broke the school record for strikeouts in a game last week against Munising with 18, topped that performance against the Chiefs, whiffing an impressive 19 batters out of 21 possible outs and walking none in a one-hitter.

“It felt awesome. I’ve been trying to cut down on my walks and it felt good not to walk any and get all those strikeouts,” she said. “I was feeling it, I was pumped. I didn’t have my coffee, but I was pumped!”

Earlier in the season, the Rockets fell to Cheboygan 6-1 at the Boyne Invitational.

“We played them our second game of the season and I was hungry for them this time, because they hit me around so well,” said Brockway.

Brockway, Averi Kanyuh, Aslyn Brockway and Tessa Sundling each had two hits, with Neena Brockway collecting 3 RBIs in the victory.

“We finally put together a complete game. We had good hitting, outstanding pitching and no errors on defense,” said Rockets manager George Kanyuh. “What a difference five weeks makes.”

The Rockets then defeated Division 1 Traverse City Central 4-0 to close out the afternoon.

Savannah Stenlund pitched a complete game 3-hitter, striking out 10 with no walks. Averi Kanyuh ripped a two-RBI double and Stenlund went 3-3 at the plate.

“We had a very nice weekend,” said George Kanyuh. “Even in the 4-1 loss to Esky, we didn’t make any mistakes. They just had a few more hits than we did. I’m very pleased how the weekend went, all three games.”

Neenah, Wis. went 2-0 in the tournament, defeating Marquette 10-4 and Escanaba 4-3.

The Eskymos opened the day by rallying over the Sault Ste. Marie Blue Devils 10-7. The Blue Devils led 7-3 before Escanaba staged its come back, helped by a Jenn Koish solo homer. Koish, Emily Bogaudo and Gafner each had three hits. Cook and Jenshak added two hits.

“It was a nice comeback,” said LaMarch. “The kids hung in there and played well and (Koish’s homer) was the boost we needed.” Frappier picked up the victory in relief of Callie Heller, who gave up nine hits.

“That was the first extended high school (pitching) for Callie. It was great for her to experience that,” said LaMarch. “Sault has five real good hitters and decent pitchers. They’re somebody to be reckoned with, that’s for sure.”

The Eskymos played Marquette after their game against Rapid River, beating the Redettes 12-6. Cook, Jenshak, Heller, Brianna Belanger and Braedyn Bosilovatz had two hits apiece and Frappier picked up the win on the mound, striking out five and walking none.

“They made a game of it for a while. We were pretty consistent and got some good swings,” said LaMarch. “I thought Jaymie pitched pretty well. Her composure is a high factor. She doesn’t get fazed by the moment and earned everything she’s gotten. She deserves all the credit.”

Jenshak pitched against Neenah, striking out seven, walking one and giving up five hits.

“It was a solid effort from Codi,” said LaMarch. “She’s starting to round into form. She’s such a competitor and she’ll get better as we go.” Cook had a three hit performance and Jenshak had two hits.

Rapid River (12-14) hosts Munising for a doubleheader Thursday while Escanaba (12-5) travels to Gladstone on Tuesday.