ESCANABA – Different day, same teams, same field, and for the Escanaba Senior Girls, it was the same result.
Unlike the first matchup between the teams on Tuesday, Escanaba had to work a little harder this time to defeat Norway, as they outscored them 11-7 to capture the District 10 title, Wednesday, at Lemerand Field.
“We like a district title,” Escanaba head coach Jamie Segorski said. “It’s what we shoot for in the beginning of the season. This group of girls has never lost a district tournament-this group, this year. I think they’ve won five or six in a row. It’s a nice group of girls and we enjoy coaching them.”
After falling 15-2 to Escanaba on Tuesday, Norway first had to take care of Kingsford earlier in the day, which it did, winning 5-2 to set up a rematch with Escanaba.
In the first game between the two, it was Escanaba who took a commanding 5-0 lead after the first inning. On Wednesday, it was Norway who jumped on Escanaba, taking an early 2-0 lead in the second inning, after Courtnee Marquardt hit a two-run home run that scored her and Ashley Zanon.
“We proved we can hit the ball, but last night, we fell in that hole,” Norway head coach Bob Bal said. “Tonight, we were up 2-0 and things were different. The pressure was on them.”
Escanaba responded to the pressure in the bottom of the third inning, as Katie Ross hit a two-run RBI that allowed Callie Heller and Mackenzie Leisner to score and make it 2-2.
Just as quickly as Escanaba responded, Norway was quick to retaliate.
Britta Grayvold singled and eventually made her way to third, where she would go on to score on a passed ball. Then, Jada Lasater ripped an RBI single that sent Brandi Strong home, pushing Norway’s lead back to two, 4-2.
“We hit a couple balls hard at the beginning that were just hit at people,” Segorski said. “We made a couple of mistakes in the beginning and they got up on us. It’s just a credit to the girls for coming back and fighting back the way they did.”
Sam Connor brought Escanaba within one after she launched a solo home run to make it 4-3. She led the team with three hits on the day.
“Connor just blasted the ball all over today,” Segorski said. “It was beautiful to see her hit the ball that way.”
Once the fifth and sixth innings came around, everyone on Escanaba started hitting the ball all over the field, as they scored four runs in each inning.
It was Emily Bruntjens who put Escanaba on top for good. With the bases loaded and the game tied after Katie Vanportfliet tallied an RBI single that scored Jerrika McAlpine to make it 4-4, Laviolette hit a two-run RBI double that scored J.J. Laviolette and Taylor Segorski. Next, it was Heller’s turn, as she notched an RBI single that scored Connor, to give Escanaba a 7-4 lead.
“We been here before, we been behind in a lot of games,” Jamie Segorski said. “It’s softball. The girls understand that and until the last pitch is thrown, you’re still in the game.”
Down three, Norway managed to load the bases in the top of the sixth inning, but they could only score one run and Escanaba responded with four more runs in the bottom half of the inning, to give themselves a comfortable cushion.
Still, Norway showed resiliency and put together a let rally, despite trailing 11-5. Norway put up two more runs in the seventh inning, but it was not enough.
“We’re not a 15-2 team, 11-7 is more like us,” Bal said. I told the girls I can live with 11-7, but I can’t live with 15-2.”
Escanaba finished the game with 14 hits and three errors, while Norway accumulated nine hits and four errors, on the night.
Katie Ross started the game on the mound for Escanaba and went four innings, while allowing four runs on five hits and one walk. She struck out three batters.
In addition to her stellar day at the plate, Sam Connor earned the win on the mound, as she pitched the final three innings and allowed two runs on four hits and one walk. Connor struck out two.
Harlie Caster took the loss for Norway. She pitched all six innings and surrendered 11 runs, but only six were earned.
For Escanaba, they’ll now set their sights on the sectionals, which they will host this Saturday.
“Honest to God, I’m not sure which team is coming down from District 11,” Jamie Segorski said. “But it’s a district championship team and they’re coming to play us so they’re certainly not going to come down here and lay down for Escanaba.”