Sam Connor, Eskymos stifle Peshtigo in sweep

By Bryce Derouin

ESCANABA – The Escanaba girls have had one goal all season: to play their best ball as districts approach

The Eskymos looked postseason ready on Monday, dominating Peshtigo 8-0, and 13-0 in a shortened five-inning softball game that was called due to the 10-run mercy rule.

“Our team is coming along,” Escanaba assistant coach Bruce Heller said. “We’re improvng each week and our main focus is the postseason. All season, our goal has been to get ready for districts.

“The team played well tonight. We played well offensively and defensively, and Sam Connor did a really good job on the mound.”

Connor pitched all 12 innings on the day, and in the first contest, allowed no runs on five hits, and zero walks. She struck out one.

“Sam has great command of her pitches,” Heller said. “She does a great job of locating her pitches and she does a great job with her changeup. She kept Peshtigo off balance the entire night.”

Escanaba managed to score eight runs on five hits, with its biggest inning coming in the sixth inning, where they recorded three runs to put the game out of reach, 8-0.

Jenna Koise recorded an RBI double, and Michelle LaFave added an RBI single of her own, in the first contest.

It didn’t take long for the Eskymo bats to get going in the second contest of the doubleheader.

Escanaba, playing as the away team, opened up the game with Callie Heller reaching on an error. She would eventually steal second, and reached third on a sacrifice bunt from J.J. Laviolette. Heller then scored on a passed ball.

Becca Piron kept it going with a double, and LaFave followed that up with an RBI single, scoring Piron. Koish an Syd Gafner would join in on the hit parade, notching singles of their own. Gafner’s single would drive in LaFave, to make it 3-0.

Escanaba would add a run on an error in the second inning, and the two teams would go scoreless up until the fifth inning, where Escanaba broke the game open.

Piron started the inning off by laynching a solo shot that traveled over the fence in left center field. Her homer would be the first of nine runs scored by the Eskymos, that inning.

“It felt nice,” Piron said about hitting the homerun. “I had all my mechanics going right and when it came off the bat, I knew it (would be a homerun).”

Peshtigo committed two errors and two wild pitches in the inning, which aided the Eskymos’ cause.

Connor and the Eskymo defense were brilliant, once again. The Eskymos turned a double play in the second inning, when Connor caught a line drive, and threw it to first, where the runner had already departed for second.

Connor finished the second game having pitched five innings and allowing three hits and no walks, with two strikeouts, giving her the second win of the day.

“We have a real good defense,” Connor said. “Even when they do get a hold of it to the outfield, I’m not even worried about it because we have a really good outfield.”

The biggest loss of the day for Escanaba didn’t come on the field, but happened in the bullpen. Jaymie Frappier was warming up to eventually replace Connor on the mound in the first game, when a line drive went into foul territory. Someone shouted “Heads up!” and Frappier turned to look to make sure she could avoid being hit by the foul ball. However, just as she turned to find the ball, her catcher had already thrown the ball they were using back to Frappier. With Frappier’s attention on the foul ball, she was struck on the face by the ball from her catcher.

Frappier would go to the hospital for treatment, and would eventually return to watch the second game.

“It doesn’t appear to be a concussion,” coach Heller said. “Her eye is swollen and (it could be a) vision issue.”

With a doubleheader against Gladstone slated for today, Frappier’s availability is unknown, along with the future date at which she could return to play.

“We’re not sure,” Heller said about Frappier’s chances of playing tonight. “It’s going to depend on if the swelling goes down and she’s gonna have to wear a mask. Her health is more important than a game.”

Escanaba (16-10) is looking forward to a rematch with its rivals after dropping both games of a twinbill against them, last week. The Eskymos fell short in the the first game, 1-0 in 11 innings, and gave up a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning in the nightcap, before eventually falling 6-4.

“We told the kids you don’t hang your heads after losing to a team like Gladstone,” Heller said. “They’re not only one of the top teams in the Upper Peninsula, but they’re one of the top teams in the state. It’s a very well-run program. They have trermendous players and they’re extremely well-coached. Playing them is always a huge challenge, but it’s one we look forward to.”

The first game of the doubleheader is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. at Gladstone.