ESCANABA - It didn't take long for Grandville to gain the upper hand Wednesday as it blanked Negaunee 10-0 in five innings in the Little League Minors softball state softball tournament at Lemerand Park in Escanaba.
Playing in one of the two semifinal games in the tourney, Grandville's Kyleigh Moll led off the first inning with a double to left field and scored the first run on Amber Mastbergen's bunt single.
Courtney Hardin gave the winners a 2-0 lead on a single to left, then scored the third run on an error.
Negaunee pitcher Karlie Patron is late with the tag at home plate as Grandville’s Maddie Gkekas is called safe during the fifth inning Wednesday at Lemerand Park. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Keith Shelton)
"I think that set the tone for us," Grandville manager Heidi Hardin said. "It's contagious. It seems like when one girl starts hitting, the others will start."
The victory puts Grandville into the 2 p.m. championship game to face Jackson Northwest.
Grandville added a run in the third on Courtney Hardin's sacrifice bunt, then raised its lead to 6-0 in the fourth by taking advantage of four walks and Jackie Sundstrom's RBI double to left.
The winners completed the scoring with four more runs in the fifth, including one on Maddie Gkakus' triple to center.
"They're a very, very solid team," Negaunee manager Mark Menhennick said of Grandville. "Their hitting and pitching is very good. We tried not to let their early runs set the tone."
Morgan Carlson went 2 for 2 for Negaunee, which stranded seven baserunners, including the bases loaded n the fourth.
"We had several runners in scoring position, but couldn't capitalize," Menhennick said. "They kept making plays. They were flawless out there."
Grandville collected seven hits, with Moll getting two.
"The girls did great," manager Hardin said. "They hadn't seen a pitcher that fast, but they did it (win the game).
"Negaunee is a very good team. They're well coached and their girls are very polite. They had a couple opportunities and that's why we burned up one of our top pitchers. Otherwise, our pitchers normally go two innings at a time."
Sami Slager pitched the entire game for the win. She struck out two, walked two, hit a batter and scattered four hits.
Negaunee's Karlie Patron also went the distance and took the loss. She fanned 13, including six in a row in the opening two innings, while walking six.
"Karlie is as solid as they come," Menhennick said. "I'd put her on the mound any day of the week."
Negaunee committed three errors and Grandville had none.
Jackson advanced with a 7-1 triumph over Hillman.
Hillman's Abby Funk tied the score 1-1 on Mckenna Grulke's bunt in the third inning.
Jackson regained the lead in its half of the third, scoring twice by taking advantage of two errors and a walk for a 3-1 lead.
Northwest, fueled by back-to-back RBI singles to center from Madison Neitzke and Bree Burman, added three runs for a 6-1 cushion in the fourth.
Winning pitcher Sierra Weller tossed a two-hitter, struck out nine and walked three.
Bailey Schook absorbed the loss, striking out nine and walking two.