Surprise ending: Mid-Peninsula Conference champion Westwood bows out of MHSAA Division 3 district softball tourney in opening round

Westwood’s Elizabeth Farley watches the ball after hitting it in an MHSAA Division 3 district tournament softball game against Ironwood Tuesday afternoon at the Tilden Township field. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

NATIONAL MINE — The Westwood softball team put together an impressive season, including the Mid-Peninsula Conference tournament victory and share of the M-PC regular-season title.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, that great year came to a quick and rather surprising end Tuesday as they fell to Ironwood 11-8 in the first round of the MHSAA Division 3 district tournament.

Westwood held an early 3-0 advantage before Ironwood started to pound out extra-base hits and plated four runs in the fifth inning to take the lead.

“They just came out and showed that they wanted to be here,” Patriots head coach Heather Salmi said. “They hit the ball hard and they were all solid hits. There was nothing we could do about it. We also made some baserunning and fielding errors and when you’re in the playoffs, you can’t afford to do that.”

Even though it may look like an upset on paper, the Red Devils didn’t see it that way and felt going into the game that they could keep up.

“We’ve had that in us all season,” Ironwood head coach Heather Sbraggia said. “We played them at the (Superior) Dome (in Marquette to open the season in April) and stuck with them. We just had a lot of errors and I thought that we probably could’ve beaten them then.

“We just hit the ball really well today and it was just a great day all around.”

Shae Blewett led Westwood with a double, triple, an RBI and two runs scored, while teammate Marissa Carello hit two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. Kacie Lundin led Ironwood with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored.

Up 1-0 in the second inning, the Patriots, serving as the visiting team, scored two runs on a double by Carello and a base hit by Elizabeth Farley.

Ironwood answered back in its half of the second, though, on three straight extra-base hits, two being RBI doubles by Lundin and Kristine Mieloszyk to pull the Red Devils within 3-2.

After the Patriots got another run in the third, Ironwood plated three in its half of the inning to take a 5-4 lead. The highlight of the inning was a solo homer by Kazlyn Weber off of Westwood starter Megan Pohlman.

Westwood tied the game in the fourth on an RBI double by Carello and then went up 6-5 in the fifth when Karlie Patron scored on a fielding error.

But that would be the last time that the Patriots would lead. Ironwood scored two runs off Westwood errors before Sydnee Lorenson cranked a two-run homer off Patron to put the Red Devils up 9-6.

The Patriots tried to rally with an RBI single by Patron, but Ironwood picked up another two runs in the sixth on a double by Lauren Gauthier to help nail down the win. The Red Devils will host Menominee at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Taylor Mylly earned the win in the circle for Ironwood after giving up 11 hits and four walks while striking out one. Patron took the loss in relief for Westwood, giving up six runs on six hits with five strikeouts in three innings.

Even though the season ended far sooner than she and her squad would have liked, Salmi liked how the Patriots competed this year.

“The girls worked really hard,” she said. “The seniors put a lot of hours into the program and I just told the girls to keep their heads up. Today just wasn’t our day.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.