LAKE LINDEN - Portage Lake got pitcher Delaney Heinonen three runs before she even touched the ball.
She had more than enough weapons to make sure those runs were adequate.
Heinonen struck out eight and allowed just one Baraga County hit as PL advanced to the championship of the District 11 Major (age 11-12) softball tournament with a 7-1 win Monday.
Portage Lake pitcher Delaney Heinonen fields a grounder during a Little League District 11 Major softball tournament game at the Boneyard in Lake Linden Monday. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
"If I'm in a good mood, if we're getting runs and we're ahead, I usually do better," Heinonen said.
PL, using aggressive baserunning tactics, pushed its three runs across without benefit of a hit. Heinonen herself was one of the runs, drawing a two-out walk and coming around to score.
"Sometimes it's good to lose the toss at the beginning of the game and be able to score first and keep that momentum. We were able to score first and the momentum stayed our way the whole game," PL manager Sean Connors said.
The early lead was key because Baraga County's Josie Rice pitched effectively as well, striking out seven batters in the first three innings, and only allowing two clean hits for the game.
Baraga pulled a run back in the third when Savannah Seldon walked and came around to score, but didn't record a hit until Maija Rice's two-out single in the third.
Ally Ronis walked and scored and Brooke Heinonen singled and scored to give Portage Lake insurance runs in the fourth. Delaney Heinonen helped herself with a two-out single and scored on an infield error to make it 6-1 in the fifth.
The closest Baraga got to a rally was in the fifth, when a hit batter and a walk put two runners on, but a strikeout and a groundout to third kept the scoreboard clean.
"We made lots of good team plays and we did good as a team," Delaney Heinonen said.
Baraga County plays tonight at 6 p.m. against Keweenaw in an elimination game.
"I thought we played pretty well defensively, made a few mistakes on the defensive side, but we just couldn't quite get the bats going and that's all in part to their pitcher. She pitched strikes and she threw hard," Baraga County coach Darrin Voskuhl said.
Keweenaw had no problems extending its tournament run to at least tonight after wiping out Penokee Range (Ironwood) 18-2.
It was a little nervous after two innings, as the teams were tied at 1, but Keweenaw scored eight times in the third and nine in the fourth to trigger the run rule.
Hannah Rautio and Vera Peterson had two hits apiece in the fourth inning alone and every position in the lineup scored at least once.
Mackenzie LePage and Peterson shared the pitching duties, holding Penokee Range to two hits.
Keweenaw plays Baraga County in an elimination game tonight and the winner will have to beat Portage Lake both Wednesday and Thursday to win the district title.