Frappier, Esky Senior girls start late, finish early

ESCANABA – The Escanaba Senior girls (age 15-16) started late, but wasted no time routing Kingsford in their Little League tournament opener at Lemerand Field Sunday night.

With Norway and Iron Mountain North going well past Escanaba and Kingsford’s 7 p.m. start time, the Esky and Kingsford All-Stars warmed up on the West Field and nearly played there as well, but were able to start at approximately 7:50 p.m.

Escanaba shook it off and then went on to rout Kingsford 10-0 in six innings.

“The girls handled it well,” said Escanaba manager Michelle Carne of the bouncing around and the late start time. “We were a little bit scrounging. We didn’t know what field we were playing on, but I just settled the girls down and I think they settled each other down too, so it all worked out and we ended up coming out on top.”

Esky pitcher Jaymie Frappier, who during the Escanaba Eskymos softball season led her team to the state quarterfinals, dominated Sunday night. She threw a one-hitter and didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning. She wasn’t overly dominating, striking out four, but was able to get out of the only jam she faced.

In the bottom of the sixth inning with Escanaba up 10-0, Kingsford needed a run to prolong the game. Lacey Walsh was walked, Tessa Merhalsk ripped her team’s only hit to reach first and Janay Walters reached base on an error to load them up with no outs.

But Molly Meheguzzo hit into a fielders choice and the runner was thrown out at home. Emily Murdock then hit into a double play on an infield fiy to end the game as Escanaba escaped unscathed.

Helping preserve the no-hitter through five innings was Escanaba shortstop Callie Heller who made at least two highlight reel catches. At bat, Heller was 3-for-4 and reached base on an error with three RBIs.

“Callie played very well and not only played defense well, but she hit very well for us,” said Carne. “She’s our leadoff batter and she started us off good today and that really helps.

“Jaymie pitched a 1-hitter today, so we’re very happy and pleased with her too. It’s a very awesome start. I couldn’t ask for more. We hit well, and our pitching was good from Jaymie. It was just a good all-around game.”

Escanaba tagged Kingsford for four runs in the second inning, but triggered the mercy rule by dropping five runs in the sixth. It was a game that just got away from Kingsford, due to a couple of fielding errors.

“Jaymie pitched a good game. We didn’t get a lot of good swings on it, but our defense just let us down today,” Kingsford manager Kevin Murdock said. “We’re a better defensive team than that and we’ll bounce back and play better defense (today).”

It ended up being a long day for Murdock. Earlier in the day, the Kingsford Legion team which Murdock also manages, beat Hancock to win the Mid Peninsula League title in Channing. The late start and the shuffle at Lemerand Field didn’t help any.

“Not to come up with an excuse,” he said. “But that whole rush, go practice over there then rush rush rush over here and the late start…It’s all an excuse and I don’t want to go into excuses but we didn’t play a good defensive game and we’ll go again tomorrow.”

Mackenzie Leisner went 2-for-4 with a walk for Escanaba. Sam Connor was hit by two pitches back-to-back, drew a walk and hit into a fielders choice.

Escanaba will play Tuesday at 5 p.m. for the district title against the winner of Kingsford and Norway today at 7 p.m. In the earlier game today, Norway blasted Iron Mountain North 13-5.

Carne said it was an advantage to have a day off in-between games.

“It actually works out in our favor because if pitchers pitch more than four innings, they can’t pitch again the next day,” she said. “It works that we get a day’s rest so we can pitch Jaymie again or have Sam Connor come in. Those two are great pitchers for us.

“We’re going to do a little hitting practice tomorrow, come and watch the game and play for the district championship on Tuesday.