Softball: Gladstone sweeps Flivvs

Kingsford's Maggie Strehlow (23) pitches against Gladstone on Thursday in Gladstone. (Austin Hemmingson/The Daily Press)

GLADSTONE — The weather was cold but the Gladstone bats were hot in a softball doubleheader sweep of Kingsford on Thursday.

The Braves took the first game 11-1 and the nightcap 17-0 in the Great Northern Conference openers for both teams.

Taylor Trudeau got the scoring started with a home run to left field in the bottom of the first of the second game off Flivvers’ pitcher Emily Curtis. After adding another run, Maddie Ahlgren hit a two-run triple to the gap in right center, then scored on a wild throw to third base to make it 5-0.

Olivia Wetthuhn doubled to right field to plate two more runs, and they tacked on five more in the inning to make it 12-0 after one.

“Our hitting really stood out to us,” Braves’ coach Darin Hunter said. “We worked really hard last winter changing up some hitting strategies and we wanted to jump on the first pitches. We were aggressive and the girls really showed that. We were really impressed with the hitting part.”

Gladstone (5-0, 2-0 GNC) added five runs in the second to take a 17-0 lead, and the game was called after Braves’ pitcher Morgan Letteriello retired the side in order in the top of the third.

Taelor Zeise led the Braves with three RBIs, and Letteriello was perfect through three innings, striking out one.

Jenna Tardiff had four RBIs in the opener while Sydney Herioux chipped in with three. Andie Balenger got the win in five innings in the opener, giving up just one run.

“Andie and Morgan were both good with the conditions. They had wind blowing in their face, so the velocity was a little off,” Hunter said. “Overall, pitch location is what we really stress. They pitched really well in that regard. They put the pitches where we needed them. The girls followed up on the defensive end and helped them out. It was a good all-around team effort.”

The Braves hit four home runs, including three in the opener by Tardiff, Letteriello and Ahlgren. They scattered 11 runs over four innings off Flivvers’ pitcher Maggie Strehlow, forcing the game to be called after the top of the fifth.

“It’s real simple. Gladstone is a great team and we’re not gonna take anything away from them, but we were not mentally focused today. I guarantee we’re a better team than that,” Flivvers’ coach Kevin Murdock said. “We’ll play better defense than that the next time out. We gave up 28 runs, but we’re better than this. A good team like that. You give them four to five outs an inning you’re gonna lose. We’ve got competitors, but we have to have more of them. They’re good athletes — they’ll get there. We were not mentally ready to play this game and we will get better.”

The Braves added a 4 p.m. doubleheader against rival Escanaba today. The games won’t count as conference games, but Hunter is looking forward to the challenge.

“Escanaba is always a good team. Obviously, last year they were state champions. I don’t see any difference,” Hunter said. “I know they have some good players that left, and I expect they may be a little bit of a young team but Gabi (Salo) is obviously a strong foe. If we can’t start hitting off Gabi then I don’t know what we’re gonna do towards the end of the season.”

The Flivvers (2-2, 0-2 GNC) host Niagara on Monday.