Escanaba pitcher Gabrianna Salo, who struck out 13, said an early rain delay didn’t bother her team. Ted Kulfan
East Lansing — This state championship was not just for Escanaba — although that community will be pretty excited — but for the entire Upper Peninsula.
Escanaba’s 5-0 victory over South Haven Saturday in the Division 2 state final was the first softball title in school history and first for the school of any kind since 1981 in football.
But several UP schools have won softball championships, in a part of the state that has always excelled at softball
“The UP has great softball,” Escanaba coach Jamie Segorski said. “We’re real fortunate. Gladstone has won a couple state championships (2014, 2009), they’re our neighbors, only eight miles away. They’re usually down here in the semifinals, quarterfinals, all the time. This is our third year in a row down here. Rapid River has been down here competing for championships.
“We’ve been fortunate to feed off their history, and there’s been a lot of great softball players, and it’s carried over to us.”
Escanaba pitcher Gabrianna Salo pitched a 3-hit shutout, while walking nobody and striking out 13.
“She basically overpowered us,” said Wilma Wilson, South Haven coach. “She made all of her pitches, she was right there every time. It made our batters really work.”
South Haven coach talks about Gabrianna Salo's dominating performance. Ted Kulfan
A 25-minute rain delay a couple batters into the game didn’t rattle Salo, or her teammates, as they listened to music and essentially had an electric slide competition against South Haven down the opposite foul lines.
“I don’t think it (the delay) really threw us off,” Soto said. “We listened to music in the dugout and stayed up and it helped us.”
Catcher Dakota Cloutier had two hits and two RBIs for Escanaba (31-3), and Savannah Barron scored twice.
South Haven pitcher Hayley Kreiger allowed three earned runs and one walk, and struck out nine.
South Haven ended its season 32-9.
“If you would have told me in the middle of the season we’d be in the state finals I would have looked at you kind of crazy,” Wilson said. “This is a real gritty team.”
Coloma 7, Millington 6: Coloma scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning for Coloma in the final played at MSU.
Morgan Wagner drove in the tie-breaking run, and Jaidyn Hutsell preserved the victory after re-entering the game (Hutsell was replaced in the fourth inning but was allowed to re-enter being the designated pitcher).
Coloma pitcher Jaidyn Hutsell talking about her team’s rally to win the state Division 3 championship. Ted Kulfan
“I was very excited going back,” said Hutsell, who had two hits and drove in two runs, while striking out six in 4⅔ innings. “(Reliever) Skylar (Crisenbery) did a great job, not having any runners score, and I just came in and was confident.
“We’ve been working for this all year. This is great.”
Coloma (38-3) scored three runs in the sixth to cut Millington’s (39-3) lead to 5-4. Millington scored a run in the sixth to make it 6-4— then Coloma added the three runs in the seventh.
“Around the sixth inning I said to them ‘we’re too passive, we’re not aggressive enough, we’re watching too many strikes’,” Coloma coach Wendy Goodline said. “They finally listened to me and went at it.
“The girls earned it. They have put in the work.”
Millington did enough offensively to win, lining 13 hits. Center fielder Leah Denome tied an MHSAA finals record with four hits, scored twice, and had three RBIs, and Darrien Roberts added three hits and two runs.
But the Blue Jays left the bases loaded — after having none out, in the fifth inning — then couldn’t hold the lead in the seventh.
“We were pounding the ball,” Millington coach Greg Hudie said. “Letting the bases loaded, and no out, and we didn’t score, that was a huge blow on our part.
“Maybe that was the momentum they (Coloma) needed.”
Centreville 5, Coleman 2: Kenleigh West-Wing had two hits and scored two runs, and Hannah Duchene was sparkling on the mound, as Centreville carried a four-run third inning into a victory and the Division 4 state championship.
Centreville coach Scott Logan discusses what made his team successful this season. Ted Kulfan
Playing in the last game of the day, the team (36-6) spent the day at the movie theater, in air conditioning, and away from the heat and humidity at the softball complex at Michigan State.
“Just kept them occupied, distracted, and they had a good time,” coach Scott Logan said. “We saw Incredibles 2. The girls really enjoyed it. The theater was cold.”
Centreville only has two seniors on the roster, so the future looks bright, too.
“They work so hard year-round, they’re very deserving,” Logan said. “This hasn’t hit me yet.
“We’ve been playing good ball, and today we played good ball against a very good team. Hannah pitched well.”
Brianna Townsend had two hits and drove in a run for Coleman (30-10), which couldn’t overcome giving up the four-run inning.
“One bad inning,” coach Chad Klopf said. “It was things we usually don’t do, happening in one inning, and four runs — it’s tough to get over.
“Things happen. A little bit of pressure here and there, things happen. Everybody is here for a reason, they’re a good ball team, too.”