LL-H, Houghton combine for 60 runs in doubleheader split

Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette Lake Linden-Hubbell's Cheyanne Colombe bunts a pitch from Houghton's Josie Connors during the first game of a doubleheader Monday at Houghton Field.

HOUGHTON — It is tough to beat a team four times in a season.

After the Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes softball team swept the Houghton Gremlins 11-3 and 23-6 back in April, the Lakes found themselves in position to do just that after winning the opening game of Monday’s doubleheader, 20-15. The Gremlins bounced back and then hung on to win the nightcap, 14-11.

For manager Jeff Shepeard’s group, the 31 runs were on par with what the Lakes have been able to accomplish all season. However, their defense continues to struggle, especially once opponents get runners on base.

“Offensively we were great,” said Shepeard. “Defensively we struggled. It was tough. We made some errors behind [starting pitcher Mackenzie Lepage], so that doesn’t help her out any.

“We work on a lot of things in practice. When there are no runners on base, we make all kinds of nice plays. It seems like when they get a baserunner, we panic a little bit.”

At the same time, the doubleheader, which was played at Houghton Field due to adverse conditions at the Boneyard in Lake Linden, was another step for the Gremlins in the turnaround of their season. After opening the season with two wins in their first three games, the Gremlins lost eight in a row, starting with that April doubleheader with the Lakes.

Since earning a 13-2 win over the L’Anse Purple Hornets, the Gremlins have been much better, going 6-5 since.

“The girls have worked really hard over the year,” said Gremlins manager Rosalie Anderson. “That game where we mercied L’Anse was really a tide-turner for our team. Those girls started to really believe that they could do it, that they could figure stuff out, put runs on the board and really play with anybody.”

The Lakes took advantage of mistakes by the Gremlins in the opener to turn an 11-11 game after five innings into a 16-11 lead after the ensuing half-inning. Houghton closed the gap back to 16-14 before Lake Linden exploded again offensively to get ahead 20-14 heading into the bottom of the seventh.

The Lakes had 23 hits in the game, but also surrendered 16 to the Gremlins.

“Offensively  I think we have been pretty steady most of the year,” said Shepeard. “We have only had a couple of games this year where we didn’t score a bunch of runs.”

Keirsten Codere, who went 4 for 5 in the opener, jump-started the Lakes’ offense early with a two-run home run. By the time the first inning was over the Lakes held a 6-1 advantage.

The Gremlins pushed back in the bottom of the second when they strung together four runs when Sophie Kyllonen and knocked home two runs with a single and Harlee Froberg brought two more runs home with a double to center field.

The Lakes jumped ahead 11-5 by the end of the fourth inning. By the end of the fifth inning, however, that lead evaporated after Anita Magyar knocked Shea Donnelly home and Cassidy Becia doubled to center field to bring Ally Ronis home.

Codere started another rally for the Lakes in the top of the sixth by doubling down the left field line to drive home two runs. By the time the inning was over, the Lakes led 16-11.

The Gremlins shaved that lead down to 16-14 before the Lakes took advantage of defensive missteps by Houghton and scored another four runs.

Houghton did get one run back in the bottom of the seventh when Becia found herself in a rundown and managed to sneak home during a throwing error.

In the nightcap, the Gremlins, who were disappointed with their effort in the opener, jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks in part to a two-run single by Froberg.

“That was huge,” said Anderson. “That definitely changed the momentum. After that first game, the girls were a little bit down… When we came out and jumped on them like that, it really got the momentum going. Everyone is in a better mood to play then.”

The Lakes responded with an inside-the-park home run from Lepage, a double by Codere that scored Alexa Destrampe, and a run-scoring sacrifice by Cheyanne Colombe.

In the bottom of the second, Colombe knocked home two runs with a triple to right field as part of a three-run inning for the Lakes, who took their first lead of the game, 6-4.

With the Lakes ahead 8-5, the Gremlins went to work in the top of the sixth, evening the game when Becia sacrificed to score Josie Connors. Froberg scored shortly after to give Houghton back the lead, 9-8.

The Gremlins added five more runs in the top of the seventh, sparked by a smart run by Alix Gaffney to reach first base on a well-placed bunt. While she was reaching the base, two runs came home.

The Lakes got three runs back in the bottom of the seventh, but it was not enough to overcome their six-run deficit.


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