Rock-solid power: Ishpeming Hematites softball team pounds out hits in sweep of Gwinn Modeltowners

Ishpeming catcher Tia Mattila catches the pitch with Gwinn’s Brenna Bruce batting and teammate Brooke Manor leading off third base Wednesday evening at the Forsyth Township Ballfield Complex in Gwinn. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

“The hits weren’t dropping before and now they’re starting to drop more and that’s a really good thing.” — Ben McGuire, head coach, Ishpeming softball

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GWINN — The weather may not have known what to do Wednesday afternoon as it went back and forth between sunshine and rain, but the Ishpeming softball team certainly did.

The Hematites rolled to dominating sweep of Gwinn, taking the opener 16-1 in three innings and the nightcap 16-0 in four.

“The bats were definitely hitting today,” Ishpeming head coach Ben McGuire said. “We hit some really hard balls up and down the lineup. Nos. 7, 8, and 9 (in the batting lineup) were hitting, too, so that’s good.

“We’ve hit the ball hard a lot this year, but a lot of times, they ended up getting caught. We’ve had four or five games that we lost this year where we’ve outhit the other team.

“The hits weren’t dropping before and now they’re starting to drop more and that’s a really good thing.”

Ishpeming (11-9) did everything well against the Modeltowners as it got long hits, drove in runs and got some stellar pitching from Emma Bleau.

“Emma pitched great and we can always count on her,” McGuire said. “She’s really quiet, but she’s so confident. Any time I go out there, she’s like ‘I got this coach. No problem.’

“That’s so good, too, because one of the big things about pitching is that you have to have a good mentality.

“Some kids when they start struggling, you’ll see them get down, but we never see that from her because she’s so even-keeled all the time.”

The second game was more competitive, at least for three innings. Ishpeming scored three runs in the first on an RBI single from Tia Mattila and a two-run single from Bleau.

After Gwinn pitcher Molly McCarthy shut out Ishpeming in the second, the Hematites picked up two more runs in the third on a throwing error and a sacrifice fly by Myah McNab.

In the fourth inning, Ishpeming caught fire as it plated 11 runs to break the game open. McNab hit an RBI double, and later Madison Pruett crushed a two-run homer over the centerfield fence.

“The home run felt really good as soon as I hit it,” Pruett said. “Centerfield is my power alley, so when I hit it good, it goes there.

“I feel like we’re really connecting and playing well as a team and I think we’re really confident going into this weekend.”

Both teams will compete in the Mid-Peninsula Conference tournament on Saturday at Westwood.

Bleau got the win in the circle after giving up only two hits and striking out six in three innings of work. Mattila added an inning in relief.

In the first game, the Hematites plated six runs in the opening inning, highlighted by a two-run double by Kayla Kaukola. Ishpeming kept chugging along with three runs in the second before Gwinn got on the board in its half of the inning when Brooke Mannor reached base on a walk and then scored on a passed ball.

That’s all the Modeltowners could manage, though, as the Hematites put the game away with seven more runs in the third, including an RBI single from Kaukola.

Bleau got the win after holding Gwinn to one run on no hits. She gave up two walks and struck out five.

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