Hematites run out of gas

After topping Rapid River in 11 innings, Ishpeming falls in final to Rudyard

Ishpeming’s Willow LaChapelle receives a throw at first base as Rapid River’s Brittany Schwartz tries to beat out the throw during a MHSAA Region 25 semifinal on Saturday, in Norway. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Adam Niemi)

By JOHN VRANCIC

Escanaba Daily Press

NORWAY — The Ishpeming Hematites appeared to have some momentum heading into Saturday’s Division 4 regional championship softball game.

Rudyard, however, changed that in a hurry as it handed the Hematites a 14-2 loss in the title contest.

Ishpeming was coming off an emotional 4-1 victory in 11 innings over Rapid River in its opener where head coach Ben McGuire coached his 100th game with the Hematites and said it was the “most memorable one so far.”

Unfortunately for Ishpeming, it fell behind the Bulldogs 5-0 in the opening frame of the championship match-up and couldn’t catch up.

The Hematites finished 18-13.

“We just put so much into the first game,” McGuire said. “We kept battling and finally got over the hump. All their (the Bulldogs’) runs in the first inning made it difficult after such an emotional win.”

Rudyard added a run in the fifth on Curtis’s double to right-center for a 6-0 cushion.

Ishpeming got on the board in its half of the fifth on a ground out to the pitcher by senior Emma Bleau in its half of the fifth.

The Bulldogs went back up by six runs (7-1) on an infield single by freshman Jordan Spring in the sixth.

Ishpeming again answered in its half of the sixth, trimming its deficit to 7-2 on sophomore Tia Mattila’s single to right, but Rudyard got out of the inning by picking Mattila off first.

Senior Emma Bleau also went the distance and absorbed the loss. She fanned seven and walked three.

Bleau, however, earned the complete game victory against Rapid River by recording 13 strikeouts, two walks and scattering six hits.

That was also Bleau’s 18th win of the season, which is a school record, and she has notched more than 500 strikeouts between the last two seasons.

“Emma is such a bulldog and has so much confidence,” said McGuire. “When she was on the mound, we were in every game. I think she just hit empty against Rudyard, although they’re a real good hitting team. I think Rapid River is also a very good hitting team. That was one of the best games Emma has thrown for us.”

The Hematites secured the decision by scoring three times in the 11th innigs during which the international tie-breaker rule went into effect.

Junior Korey Kaukola put Ishpeming ahead to stay on a single to left by Mattila.

Mattila then scored its third run on a passed ball and Bleau concluded the scoring on junior Willow LaChapelle’s single to center.

Kaukola, Mattila and Bleau finished with two hits apiece.