Gladstone wins state Little League Majors softball title

The Gladstone Little League Major Division girls softball team hoists the championship trophy after defeating VIcksburg 13-4 in the state championship game on Wednesday in Tecumseh. (Courtesy photo to the Escanaba Daily Press)

TECUMSEH — State champions. That’s the most accurate way to describe what the Gladstone Major Girls’ All-Stars became on Wednesday, using a 10-run fifth inning to spill Vicksburg 13-4 in a Little League softball state championship game.

“It’s just been an amazing ride with a special group of girls,” said manager Rick Pepin of the 11- and 12-year-old team. “For all the time and hard work these kids have put in with all-stars and travel softball, this is their reward.”

Leading 3-2 entering the fifth inning, Gladstone erupted for 10 runs to gain a 13-2 cushion.

“Everybody took a turn contributing in that inning,” Pepin said. “Everybody had a part in it.”

Before the big rally, though, Gladstone didn’t get off to a great start. After it opened a 1-0 lead on an RBI triple by Montgomery Pepin in the top of the first, Vicksburg scored twice in the bottom half to go up 2-1.

Vicksburg took advantage of three Gladstone errors to load the bases, then scored two runs on a hard-hit ball to right field. However, Gladstone nailed the third runner trying to score at the plate on the relay from right fielder Samantha Drielick to first baseman Maggie Buckley and then home, where catcher Lauren Sundquist held on to the ball during a collision for the final out.

Gladstone took the lead for good on a two-run single by Montgomery Pepin to score Addie Trombley and Sundquist in the third.

Pepin also earned the complete-game pitching victory, surrendering four runs on four hits while striking out 11 and walking two. At the plate, she was 4 for 4 with four RBIs, while Sundquist was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Trombley 2 for 4 with an RBI. Gladstone totaled 15 hits.

Gladstone upended Grandville 5-1 earlier in the day in the semifinals to get to the title game. Gladstone jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first, then added single runs in the third and fourth.

“We scored three runs right away and got that quick start that we wanted,” manager Pepin said. “We played great softball today and it started in that game. Grandville had a couple opportunities to gain momentum, but we just made plays all day long again.”

Montgomery Pepin also earned that pitching victory, fanning 12 while giving up just one run on two hits and two walks. Buckley went 2 for 3 for Gladstone, which had nine hits.

Gladstone heads to Indianapolis to play in the Central Regional tournament starting Monday. Gladstone is in the same pool with state champs from Ohio and Missouri.