Esky girls shine on national stage

AKRON, Ohio – An all-day storm rained out the entire second day of the Little League Junior (age 13-14) Central Regional at Firestone Stadium in Akron.

The Escanaba girls however are still in excellent position, having won their first game at the national level 10-1 over Franklin, Wis. on Saturday.

“It wasn’t anything spectacular,” said Escanaba manager Vance Hiney. “Our defense was solid and they knew what they had to do. We shut them right down.”

Wisconsin was held at bay thanks to one-hit pitching from Hannah Edington, who also struck out five, and Esky’s superior fielding also came through once again. Wisconsin’s one hit came on a solo home run.

“We know Hannah isn’t going to strike everyone out, but she puts a nice rotation on the ball,” aid Hiney. “They did have the home runs, but that was it. Everything else, we shut them down.”

Escanaba put up two runs in the first, one in the third, three in the fifth and four in the seventh.

Savannah Barron had three hits on the plate and got on base all four times she was up, one coming on off an error. Taylor Gauthier, Mallary Hiney and Claire McInerney each had two hits. Escanaba had just one error.

“I was a little nervous coming in,” said Hiney. “We didn’t have too many runs right away, but I kept telling myself, they’re going to come, they’re going to figure out their pitcher and keeping plugging away. I think they were less nervous than I was.”

Escanaba is set to tentatively face Iowa at 3 p.m. today. the winner will earn a berth in the semifinal while the loser will drop to the elimination bracket. Manager Hiney has already gotten a look at the Iowa team, which routed Missouri 23-1 on Saturday.

“They didn’t look that overpowering,” Hiney said of the Iowa state champs. “Missouri didn’t look like they had a whole lot. They couldn’t take care of the ball and had pretty weak fielding. The Iowa pitcher has a little zip and throws a lot of high balls, so if we don’t swing at the high ones, we should be OK. She probably throws every now and then in the high 50s. She has a quick release and a nice changeup.”

If Escanaba loses today, they may have to play a doubleheader on Tuesday in the elimination bracket. That’s significant due to the rule change implemented for the tournament after the rainout. Pitchers can now only go a maximum of 12 innings per day, meaning Edington would likely not be available to pitch the entirity of a doubleheader, which would be 14 innings if both games were to go the regular length.

For now, the girls are staying loose. Hiney took the team to a trampoline house after the games were rained out, Sunday. “They all were jumping on the trampolines, I joined in too,” said Hiney. “It was pretty funny. We knew we had to get out and have some fun after the game.”

After the game today, Hiney plans on taking the team to see the Akron Racers, the local professional softball team play.