Rockets dominate their way to the district title

NORWAY – The Rapid River Rockets captured the Division 3 district softball crown in convincing fashion Friday after dominating the Norway Knights 7-1, then blanking the Ironwood Red Devils 10-0.

“Both games, we were able to settle in and play our game,” said Rockets’ manager George Kanyuh.

“Our girls have just all come together and peaked at the right time. Our hitting, defense, pitching, base running. These girls were the complete package in the championship game.”

In game one, the first two batters for Rapid River scored and the Rockets were off to a quick 2-0 lead. At the end of the second inning, they were already up 6-0.

“I think that helped settle some of the jitters down,” Kanyuh said. “They just fell into a groove. We were making the plays on the field and our pitching was spot on. They were getting the job done at the plate too, with some timely hits. We just went on from there to win it 7-1.”

Neena Brockway got the victory. She gave up just four hits, struck out 10 and walk none.

“She did outstanding,” Kanyuh added.

Hannah Kanyuh and Dominique Pavlat both went 2-3, and Averi Kanyuh and Aslyn Brockway each scored twice in the first two innings, accounting for four of the Rockets’ first six runs.

With the win, they advanced to the title game against the Red Devils, which was also a rematch of last year’s championship game.

Averi Kanyuh led off the game with a double, and Aslyn Brockway followed her with a walk. Then, Neena Brockway belted a three-run home run, and once again the Rockets held an early lead.

Savannah Stenlund singled and Pavlat got a walk, and both advanced on a passed ball. Erika Schwartz hit an RBI single to push the runners home and gain a 5-0 advantage still in the first inning.

“It was such an emotionally charged game,” Kanyuh said. “They had their adrenaline going, and once we had that lead, the pressure was off. The bats just kept going, There were nice defensive plays on the field, and Neena pitched another stupendous game.”

He also said that Ironwood is a team that hits well, so for her to shut them down proved that she was playing at the top of her game.

One of the biggest moments of the day came at the very end of the contest. The Rockets were up 9-0 at the bottom of the fifth, and needed just one more run to mercy the Red Devils and earn the title. Lydia Froberg took the second pitch thrown to her and launched a walk-off home run over the left field fence.

“She just blasted it,” Kanyuh said. “The team was mobbing her at home plate.”

The walk-off blast was Froberg’s first career varsity home run, and it could not have come at a better time.

“She’ll never forget that moment,” he said. “Talk about pandemonium. I don’t think the emotion has leveled off in some of the players and parents. Everybody got really excited over that.”

Froberg also had a triple in addition to her game-ending shot.

Neena Brockway also pitched for the shutout the title game, giving up four hits and striking out six.

“It wasn’t just one girl,” Kanyuh stated. “Every girl made the play. It was a total team victory.”

Rapid River (17-14) advances to the regional tournament June 8 in Sault Ste. Marie, where it will face Rudyard in the opening round. The Bulldogs advanced with victories over Pellston (9-8) and Newberry (11-1) on Friday.