Little League softball: Esky beats Norway for district championship
ESCANABA — It was the third meeting for the Escanaba Minor Girls’ All-Star softball team (ages 9-10) and Norway, and after taking a loss in the first meeting, Escanaba came back to win the next and again Thursday 5-1 to clinch the District 10 championship.
Escanaba moves on to the state tournament July 26 in Marysviille.
“(The district win) is huge,” Escanaba manager Justin Jacobsen said. “We set a goal when we started to just play one game at a time and make it downstate and that’s where we’re going. The girls are excited, and I’m happy and excited. I’m looking forward to getting things rolling here this weekend.”
Escanaba took an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Chloe Dubord drew a walk and advanced to second, then third and scored on consecutive wild pitches.
In the bottom of the third, Escanaba extended its lead. Dubord once again made the most of a wild pitch and two passed balls to reach home. Shortly after, Breeleigh Reinhart drew a walk and ended up scoring on the back of a throwing error to extend Escanaba’s lead to 3-0.
“We knew what we had to do,” Jacobsen said. “We had to move up and get a lead early. It helped get in (Jolie Seidel’s) head a little bit, and it worked to our advantage.”
Norway answered in the top of the fourth, loading the bases between two walks and a hit batter. Leah Gast then drew a walk to score Jessa Rossler and reduce its deficit to 3-1.
Dubord made history repeat itself in the bottom of the fifth, drawing a walk and advancing and scoring on a passed ball. Shortly after, Reinhart tripled on a shot down the third base line to score Janessa Platt for the last run of the game.
Norway went three-and-out in the final frame.
“We only had the four practices before we came into this tournament as a team, so I’m extremely impressed with where we came from to where we are now,” Norway manager Jeff Gilroy said. “I’m proud that they stuck with it and pushed themselves as hard as they could go. They left it all out there.
“I hope we pushed Escanaba to their limit to make them a little better so that they can make a deep run down in the state tournament this year. I’m just super proud of all the girls. For the league that we play in and to come up here — it’s a big step up.”
Landry Bray earned the win for Escanaba over six innings, allowing just one hit.
“I am so excited,” Bray said. “I’m just so relieved, and all the pressure’s off my shoulders. Now, I can enjoy fundraising and going (downstate).”
Seidel took the loss for Norway over five innings.
Jacobsen gave some early thoughts on the state tournament.
“We’re going to stick to what we’ve been doing because we’re going to have some real good teams down there,” he said. “I think this was a great test for us today. If you get on base, good things happen. I keep telling the girls that.”