SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Good starts and strong finishes were key for the Escanaba Senior Girls' Little League (age 15-16) All-Stars, as they captured two wins to advance to the semifinals of the Central Regional tournament.
After losing 7-4 to South Bend on Sunday night, Esky rebounded with a 9-1 win against Kentucky and a 11-2 triumph over Missouri.
Esky's offense made the opposing pitchers work all night, drawing 12 walks between both games.
"From game one to game two today, the umpires had completely different strike zones and I just told the girls to be patient and to be aggressive when you're up at the plate," said Esky manager Michelle Carne. "I think they were patient and yet aggressive at the same time and that helped us come out with our wins today."
In the first game against Kentucky, Esky jumped out to a 1-0 first inning lead as centerfielder Mackenzie Leisner dashed home from third on a passed ball.
In the next inning, Becca Piron smacked a two run single over the second baseman as Esky extended its lead to 3-0.
In the sixth inning, leading 4-1, Esky added five insurance runs thanks to bunts, steals and multiple throwing errors from Kentucky. Carne said she liked her team's chances running against the opposing defense.
"I always like to run, run, run," Carne said. "We're going to get out some of the time but chances are they have to make a good throw and a good play and a good tag. A lot of good things have to happen on the defense for them to get us out, so I like to run and be aggressive."
Jaymie Frappier picked up the win; pitching six innings and striking out eight, while only relinquishing three hits and one run.
"We just wanted to keep staying strong and finishing out the games the best we could and just play our game and I think we did a great job at it," Frappier said.
In the second game against Missouri it was much of the same as Esky built a 4-1 lead by the third inning.
Carne said the success at the top of the lineup was important to the offensive outburst in both of Monday's games.
"It's a huge key when Callie (Heller), Mackenzie (Leisner) and Becca (Piron) can all get on and start leading us. The rest of the team rolls with that," Carne said. "So those are huge hits for us at the top of the lineup that really get us rolling with the rest of our team.
Frappier picked up the win, pitching four innings, striking out five and allowing one run. Sam Connor also tossed three innings, only allowing one run.
"Jaymie and Sam both throw great for us," Carne said. "They do a great job, they hit their spots. We scout out the teams before so we know where to throw them and they did what they needed to do."
In addition to her success on the mound, Connor also hit a pair of singles and a double, knocking in three runs as she helped contribute to Esky's five run fourth inning.
Esky continues play on Wednesday as they take on Illinois in the regional semifinal. If they win that game, they'll play the winner of South Bend and Elkhart, for a chance to advance to the World Series in Delaware.
"We're going to come out ready to play," Frappier said. "We know we are going to face good teams and we've got to win to make it to the championship game and we would like to; so we're going to come out playing our game."