Esky Senior League girls are state champions

ESCANABA – Certain situations may have gotten a little scary, but the Escanaba Senior Girls’ Little League (age 15-16) All-Stars found a way to pull out an 11-8 softball triumph over Edwardsburg in Monday morning’s state title contest.

Esky overcame an 8-7 deficit by scoring four times in the sixth inning.

Jaymie Frappier then allowed only a single to leftfield by Paige Freshour in the seventh, helping Esky preserve the victory.

“This is what you want in a state title game,” said Esky manager Michelle Carne. “Softball is a game of momentum, and we had it when it counted. The girls stayed confident and came out on top.”

Esky, for the first time during its tournament run, will depart from the friendly confines of Lemerand Park to compete in the Central Regional tournament, which begins Sunday in South Bend, Ind.

The state champions appeared to be in control in the third as Alyssa Polequin cracked a two-run single to right for a 7-2 advantage.

But Edwardsburg, making the trip to the Upper Peninsula from just a mile north of the Indiana state line, simply wasn’t content to settle for runner-up honors in its first appearance in the Michigan’s state finals.

“We’ve been in the Indiana tournament for more than 30 years,” said Edwardsburg manager Jon Blough. “We won it (state title) last year, and they booted us because they knew we would probably win it again this year. I think the competition is a little tougher in Michigan. We scrimmaged the Indiana state champion and spanked them pretty good. We’re only about 20 minutes away from South Bend. We’ll be over there for the (regional) tournament.”

Edwardsburg trimmed its deficit to 7-3 in the fourth on Bailey Thomas’s single to left.

In the fifth, Edwardsburg pulled within 7-4 on Anna Bradley’s sacrifice bunt, then trimmed its deficit to 7-5 on a throwing error and 7-6 on Rayne Dawson’s bloop single to left.

After losing pitcher Hannah Shoupe retired Esky in order in its half of the fifth, Edwardsburg tied the score on Becca Feirick’s single to right and took its only lead on Lila Blough’s sacrifice fly to center.

“Like any team, when a girl gets a big hit it’s like opening a can of worms,” said manager Blough. “We had all the momentum. Although, we can’t take anything away from Escanaba. They’re a good ball club. They’re well coached and their players are disciplined. They held their composure and executed when they needed to.”

Esky responded in its half of the sixth. Callie Heller tied the score at 8 on a single by Becca Piron and Mackenzie Leisner sent the area girls ahead to stay on a wild pitch. Piron then scored on Frappier’s sacrifice bunt, raising the count to 10-8 and Jessica Gill’s single to center ended the scoring.

The area girls, fueled by Gill’s two-run infield single, scored four times in the first. Leisner then scored on an error in the second, giving Esky a 5-0 advantage.

Edwardsburg scored its first run on Lila Blough’s sacrifice fly to center and trimmed its deficit to 5-2 on Bradley’s single to left in its half of the third.

Heller, Piron, Gill, Sam Sailer and Sam Connor had two hits apiece for Esky.

Frappier pitched the entire contest for the win. She struck out six, walked none and allowed 12 hits.

“We stuck with Jaymie because she’s a fighter,” said Carne. “We had to go with our best pitcher. Hats off to them (Edwardsburg). They forced us to make some changes on defense.”

Shoupe also went the distance, striking out seven, walking four, hitting two batters and surrendering 12 hits.

“The girl who threw for us today is only 13 years old,” said manager Blough. “We’re young. We’ll be back.”

Feirick led Edwardsburg with three hits. Thomas and Dawson added two each.

The teams combined for six errors, including four by Esky.