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Dream ender: Error-prone Ishpeming Hematites fall to Hancock in MHSAA Division 4 softball regional semifinal, 9-6

Hancock's Kaelyn Rouleau, right, runs out a grounder that was hit to Ishpeming pitcher Payton Manninen (not pictured), who threw to first baseman Brynn Lanala, left, to get the out during an MHSAA Division 4 regional tournament semifinal game played against Hancock at Norway on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Cara Kamps)

NORWAY — The season ended for the Ishpeming High School softball team on Saturday during the MHSAA Division 4 regional tournament held at Marion Park in Norway.

The Hematites finished the campaign at 16-13 after committing a half-dozen errors in a 9-6 semifinal loss to Hancock, which went on to win the regional championship with a 6-4 victory over Bessemer later that afternoon. The Bulldogs advance to the Division 4 quarterfinals to be played at Pickford on Tuesday afternoon. Hancock will face Hillman, which dropped Indian River Inland Lakes 17-2 in four innings in its regional title game Saturday.

This six-senior-strong Ishpeming team was attempting to win its first regional title in softball despite the Hematites having made it to this round six of the last seven years.

“It could’ve easily been a 5-2 (Ishpeming win),” Hematites head coach Ben McGuire said about his team’s uncharacteristic errors in the loss to Hancock. “They’re plays we make every day in practice.

“We also left 12 runners on base.”

Ishpeming leftfielder Maggie Beaudry runs just into foul territory behind third base to catch a popup during an MHSAA Division 4 regional tournament semifinal game played against Hancock at Norway on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Cara Kamps)

Ishpeming fell despite solid pitching from Payton Manninen and the hitting heroics of Brynn Lanala.

Manninen, who went the distance, allowed just two earned runs and four hits while walking three and striking out seven.

Lanala knocked in five of her team’s six runs with two big swings of the bat. She staked the Hematites to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning when she smacked a bases-loaded single off the left field fence that cleared the bases, then powered a home run in the fifth inning when Manninen was also on base that meant two more RBIs.

But Ishpeming loaded the bases after Lanala’s home run, then left all three runners stranded, according to McGuire. The Hematites got their final run in the sixth on a Jenna Maki RBI single, but again left three runners on base when that rally ended.

Ishpeming loaded the bases in the opening inning following an error, single and intentional walk to Manninen before Lanala’s first big hit.

Hancock took a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in the bottom of the second, using a double, single and two errors to score four times and take a 4-3 lead.

The Bulldogs added two more in the third, then plated three insurance runs in the fourth without benefit of a hit as Ishpeming committed three more errors.

Manninen also collected two hits at the plate, including a double, while being walked twice as she scored two runs. Maki finished with a double, RBI and run scored.

Hancock’s Sadie Biekkola earned her team’s pitching victory, going all seven innings as she allowed nine hits and six walks as she fanned eight.

Teammate Sydnie Scholie tripled, scored a run and had two RBIs, while Megan Pelto had a single, RBI and run, and Brooke Koskela a single and two runs scored.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee with contributions from Iron Mountain Daily News sports editor Sean Chase. Brownlee’s email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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