GLADSTONE - If defense wins championships, the Gladstone Braves could be on their way to making another deep postseason run.
The Braves (14-2) surrendered just two runs in a softball doubleheader against the Negaunee Miners, securing 4-0 and 5-2 wins on Thursday.
It was pitcher Christine Sharon who shined for the Gladstone defense in the first game, blanking the Miners on her way to notching nine strikeouts while surrendering just two hits and three walks in seven innings.
Gladstone’s Sadie Strasser tries to avoid the tag of Negaunee second baseman Adena Anderson during in Thursday’s game in Gladstone. Strasser slid around the tag and was called safe. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Bryce Derouin)
"I think because of the competition we played, we haven't seen a whole lot of quality pitching," Negaunee head coach Randy Carlson said. "It's something that was good for us, and I think the next time around, we'll fare better because we've seen it.
"She's probably the best pitcher we faced all year."
Sharon also shined at the plate, going 3 for 3 in the first game.
Bridget Becker and Lexi Hongisto had early RBIs to get Gladstone a 2-0 lead in the third inning.
"In our first game, we were getting some hits. The bats were hitting the ball, but they weren't going very far and we had some bloop hits," Gladstone coach Ashley Hughes said. "In the second game, our bats were much stronger. We had some more solid hits and some more baserunners."
The Miners jumped out right away in the nightcap as Nicole Richer doubled to bring in Rosalie Anderson and give Negaunee its first run of the day and a 1-0 lead.
But the lead would be short-lived as Hongisto's RBI single tied it 1-1 in the bottom of the first.
Richer answered that call with her own RBI single in the third to make it 2-1 before the Braves again responded, using one of the five errors Negaunee committed in Game 2 to keep a rally going and take the lead for good.