Keweenaw finishes as state runner-ups, falls to Delta County 11-1 in title game

ESCANABA – The Delta County Senior Girls’ (age 15-16) Little League All-Stars completed a major part of their post-season mission Saturday, earning their third straight state softball title with an 11-1 triumph over Keweenaw in five innings.

Delta County secured the decision by scoring seven times in the fifth.

The victory sends Delta County to the Central Regional tournament, which begins July 22 at South Bend, Ind.

“We nearly lost to them yesterday (in Friday’s 3-2 victory),” said centerfielder Maddy Kolich, who went 4-for-4 on Saturday. “Today we came out with the attitude ‘let’s get it done.’ We needed a game to see how we were going to work as a team and everything just came together. We had the energy going in the fifth inning. We just wanted to get it over with.”

Delta County collected eight of its 15 hits, including six straight in the fifth.

“When you put the ball in play, good things happen,” said Esky manager Vance Hiney. “It was a challenge just to get a team together, but the girls got to know each other a little better and came together quickly.”

Heather Bergstrom scored Delta County’s first run on Maddy Griffin’s suicide squeeze bunt in the second.

Lexi Challier then gave Delta County a four-run cushion with a three-run homer to center in the third.

Peyton Gast scored Keweenaw’s lone run on Kali King’s sacrifice fly to left in its half of the third.

Delta County’s Richelle Vandeville recorded two hits in the fifth. Maddy Griffin also finished with two hits.

Amber Lenards, who pitched the entire contest, struck out two, walked none and scattered four hits.

“We wanted it more as a team today,” said Lenards, who also pitched in both of Friday’s games. “We didn’t know each other very well coming into the first game, but we started coming together in the second game (in Friday’s 11-4 conquest of Taylor). I’m confident in our team. I knew my teammates could hit the ball. Yesterday, it was scary at first when they (Keweenaw) scored the first two runs. Then, we got our bats going and our defense came together. Today, it was a lot easier going out there with a lead. We were able to relax a little more.”

Keweenaw’s Emily Erkkila also went the distance and absorbed the loss. She didn’t strike out or walk anybody.

“Emily is our hero,” said Keweenaw manager Joe Rastello. “She’s a very deceptive pitcher. She has a pretty decent fastball and a very good change-up which helps keep hitters off balance. We felt we had a pretty decent team. We hit the ball well. But we hit at people and they found the gaps. They’re very good on defense. They (Delta County) don’t give you anything. It’s good for our program to come down here and compete well.”

Keweenaw reached the championship game by rallying past Taylor 9-7.

Taylor led 7-2 after four innings, but Keweenaw scored three times in the fifth and added four runs in the seventh. Laura Lyons and Kendra Keranen went 3-for-5, while Erkkila was 2-for-4 and was the winning pitcher.