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Dream stays alive

Host Marquette’s offense ignites in time to win, advance in LL state softball tourney

By CADEN SIERRA

Journal Sports Writer

MARQUETTE — Marquette kept its dreams of a Little League state championship alive on Monday afternoon by posting its first victory at the Major Division softball tournament it is hosting at Kaufman Sports Complex on the north side of the city.

Even with a lightning delay, the hosts wouldn’t be denied as they posted a commanding 14-3 victory over Edwardsburg, taking the last spot out of their pool and knocking Edwardsburg out of the tourney on a tiebreaker after both finished with 1-2 records.

Marquette’s Makayla Gustafson was a force on the pitching rubber, recording 11 strikeouts over four innings while allowing only one run and two hits. Her command set the focus for her team’s success.

Paige Buckmaster would also see time in the circle, stepping into the game late to finish off with a save.

Hurler Lila Bentzer took the loss for Edwardsburg, giving up eight runs on eight hits over four innings, with three strikeouts and five walks.

Jumping ahead early, Marquette scored in the first inning after hits by Claire Fure, Gustafson and Ellyn Mohrman, while several errors by Edwardsburg also aided the cause.

Marquette collected 14 hits as Clare Devitt led the charge, going 3 for 4 and driving in three runs. Mohrman, Gustafson and Eva Nystrom also contributed multiple hits.

Home team head coach Justin Gustafson said he was satisfied with his team’s breakout.

“We’ve been harping on them, I’m like, ‘Hey, let’s get these bats going’ and today they stepped up and hit some balls hard,” he said. “That’s kind of the name of the game. We played good defense, pitched well, but you got to put some pressure on the (other team’s) outfielders.”

Already focused on the next game, Coach Gustafson hopes the offense keeps going.

“It’s coming,” he said. “You know, every team does this and goes through slumps, but hopefully today the bats got woke up and tomorrow we can bounce back.”

Marquette has been tested, having lost to 2-1 Escanaba and 2-1 Alpena before defeating 1-2 Edwardsburg in Pool B.

Grosse Pointe won the pool with its only perfect record of 3-0. The top four teams from Pool B advanced to the championship segment of the tournament, which switches to single elimination the rest of the way.

The other four teams advancing to the quarterfinals come from the eight-team Pool A, which included Ishpeming. Midland Bullock Creek, St. Clair and Georgetown each finished 3-0 there to advance, while Rogers City won a four-way tiebreaker by allowing the fewest runs between themselves, Parchment, Jackson Southwest and Plymouth Canton.

Ishpeming finished at 0-3 even while giving up fewer runs than one of the 1-2 teams.

Tuesday’s quarterfinal winners advanced to this morning’s semifinals, both games scheduled for 10 a.m. back at two fields at Kaufman.

Marquette and Escanaba could only face each other again if both reach the state championship game to be played at 1 p.m. today.

Caden Sierra can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 551. His email address is csierra@nmu.edu.

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