Take Two: Gremlins earn key sweep over Lakes in conference play

LAKE LINDEN — With the setting sun’s rays shining on the Boneyard Monday evening, the Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes came into a doubleheader looking to build on an impressive 8-2 Copper Country Conference record.

Their counterparts, the Houghton Gremlins, had other ideas.

Rocketing out to an 8-0 lead in the opener, the Gremlins faded late, but held on for a 10-3 victory. In the nightcap, the Gremlins again jumped out to an early 11-3 lead, but found themselves having to catch back up late to force extra innings in order to win 19-14 and complete the sweep.

Josie Connors was extremely strong on the mound for the Gremlins throughout the night, going the distance in the opener and surrendering just four hits while racking up six strikeouts. She followed that performance up with six more strikeouts over four innings in the nightcap to seal a second victory.

“On the mound, she’s throwing some heat,” said Gremlins manager Melissa Baker. “She’s hitting her spots. She doing everything I ask of her on the mound.”

Connors also issued just three walks on the day.

The young pitcher was not the only Gremlins’ player to have a strong day against the Lakes. Cassidy Becia got things going in the opener when she followed McKenna Foster’s game-opening hit with a home run.

For Becia, who has been through the emotional wringer in recent weeks with the sudden loss of her older brother, softball has been one place where she can focus on healing while surrounded by 14 of the best friends she could ask for.

“I think this has been a good thing for her being able to lead on our team,” said Baker. “She’s just a strong hitter as it is. I think that was just a big relief off her shoulders.”

Foster, Sofie Kyllonen, Quinn Donnelly, Harley Froberg and Isabelle Cleary all singled in the opener. Foster and Kyllonen both doubled as well.

Neriah Colombe tripled to knock in a run.

For the Lakes, there wasn’t much for manager Jeff Shepeard to be happy with through the first three innings as things started very slowly. The Lakes, who were held to just four hits in the opener, finally got things going in the fourth, racking up three runs over the course of three innings.

Laura Lyons led the way offensively with a home run in the sixth on one of her two hits. Her double in the fourth led to the Lakes’ first run in the contest. Megan Corrigan also picked up an RBI when she reached on an error.

“We played really sloppy to begin with,” said Shepeard. “We settled in and played better throughout the end of the game. It transferred over to the second game.”

With the Lakes being a relatively young team, the 8-run deficit in the second inning of the nightcap could have spelled doom, but instead, they set their focus and went to work in the second inning.

MacKenzie Lepage got things started with a single. Lyons followed with a single. Keirstyn Codere doubled and suddenly the Lakes were back in business.

The Lakes struck four times in the second and cut the Gremlins’ lead down to four, 11-7.

Neither team scored for the next two and a half innings before the Lakes struck again with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Two more runs in the sixth put the Lakes up 12-11.

The Gremlins regained the lead, 14-12 in the top of the seventh only to see that advantage disappear after Kali DeMars walked and later scored and McKenna Keranen singled and scored.

Looking for any advantage in the eighth, the Gremlins got their offense kickstarted when Donnelly singled to right field. Froberg followed with a single to the center field fence, scoring Donnelly.

The visitors added four more runs through a mixture of timely hitting and mistakes by the defending Lakes.

Connors, who had been taken out after three innings, returned to the mound for the bottom of the eighth and she was able to get Caitlyn Zerbst and Jamie Hendrickson to strikeout to seal the victory.

The Gremlins will not have much time to enjoy the sweep as they head to Ishpeming today for a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.