Esky routs Keweenaw in sectional

ESCANABA – Katie Ross had complete command of her pitches Saturday, leading the Escanaba Senior Girls’ Little League (age 15-16) All-Stars to the sectional softball title in a 14-1 rout of Keweenaw in the second game of a doubleheader at Lemerand Park.

Ross struck out 16 of the 17 hitters she faced, allowing just a leadoff home run to left-centerfield to Sarah Audette in the fourth.

“I was just thinking of throwing hard and hitting my spots, and got into a rhythm right away,” said Ross. “After she hit that home run, I told myself to focus on the next batter. I think it would have been a little harder to take had she reached (base) on an infield hit. She deserved that one. She hit that ball well.”

Esky also won the opener 23-0 behind the three-hit pitching of Sam Connor. She fanned 11 and walked none.

Both games lasted five innings.

The victories send Esky to the state tournament at New Boston (west of Detroit), where they begin play Friday at noon.

“I’m excited to be going downstate,” Ross added. “The other girls are excited, too.”

Ross fanned the first nine hitters she faced prior to Audette’s round-tripper.

Keweenaw’s Olivia Anderson, despite becoming another strikeout victim, reached base in the fifth when catcher Taylor Segorski dropped the ball and was unable to relay it to first on time.

“Katie was definitely on,” said Esky coach Andy Fields. “She practices hard. In all my years of coaching, I’ve never seen anybody strike everybody out. Their girl (Audette) got a good piece of the ball. She earned that one. Both of our pitchers were very in tune today. I thought Sam pitched a pretty good first game.”

Esky scored twice in the second, then broke open the nightcap with eight runs in the third. The area girls added a run in the fourth and three in the fifth.

In the third, Segorski ripped a two-run single to right-center and Ross added a two-run single to right in the third.

Connor and Emily LaFave had three hits apiece for Esky, which finished with 10. Connor’s single to center drove in two runs in the fifth. LaFave added RBIs on a bunt single in the second and an infield single in the fifth.

Morgan Peters, who also went the distance, absorbed the loss. She fanned two and walked eight.

Esky unleased a 20-hit attack in the opener, with Mackenzie Leisner going 4-for-4 and driving in five runs. Connor also had five RBIs.

Kayla VanPortfliet also collected four hits. Emily Brutjens added three. Ross and Connor finished with two apiece.

Esky scored in every inning, including 11-run outburst in the third.