So close, yet so far

NEGAUNEE – Friday’s game between the Escanaba and North Central U.P. 10-11 year-old Little League girls softball teams was a nail-biter right to the end.

Sunday’s state championship game, on the other hand, was over in four innings.

Escanaba jumped out early and never looked back en route to a 12-0 victory and the state title.

“Our bats just got hot today,” Escanaba head coach Jamie Segorski said. “We got lucky and got up on them right away.

For us, that was a great showing, coming in against a good team like North Central U.P. I knew that the teams coming up here were really good, but I also knew that we had a really good squad to put up against them.”

While Esky players celebrated and ran with their championship banner around the field, the feeling on the other side of the diamond was different as NC was unable to pull off another comeback win.

“That’s a tough way to go out,” North Central head coach Patrick Thomson said.

“Escanaba is just a tough, well-disciplined team. They simply hit the ball right where we weren’t.

“I couldn’t be prouder of these girls, though,” he added. “We beat some tough teams from downstate and I think we’re growing as a softball community. This was a huge step in the right direction. I really believe that.”

Esky got rolling in the bottom of the first inning. A base hit by Erica Moore scored Bailey Barron and a long triple to the center field fence by Caydence Carter brought home Moore and Escanaba led 2-0.

North Central threatened briefly in the top of the second as Emma Kargela and Allie Ennett reached base on an infield single and a walk respectively. However, NC couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to get on the scoreboard.

Esky padded its lead in its half of the second. With one out, Lizzy Sliva reached base on a single and she later scored on an overthrow to first base. With two outs, Barron then hit a RBI single and she scored on another overthrow to put Escanaba up 5-0.

Escanaba put the game away in the bottom of the third. Carney Salo led off with a base hit and she scored on Sliva’s sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Esky flexed its muscles by plating six more runs with Barron and Maysie Lancour both hitting two-run singles.

“It’s kind of funny,” Segorski said. “This is the fifth state title game that I’ve coached in the last four years and we won three of them.

“That’s a credit to Escanaba Little League and the people in the community and all their support.”

Escanaba beat Georgetown 6-5 early Sunday on a walk-off suicide squeeze by Moore that scored Carsyn Segorski, while North Central defeated Tecumseh (no score available).

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.