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Hancock softball splits doubleheader with Ironwood

Hancock's Ellie Heinonen (9) hits against Ironwood on Friday, May 7, 2021, at Driving Park, in Hancock, Mich. (Eddie O'Neill/The Daily Mining Gazette)

HANCOCK — The Hancock Bulldogs earned a walk-off 9-8 win against the Ironwood Red Devils Friday in the second game of a doubleheader. They fell 6-1 in the opener.

In the second game, with the score tied at eight in the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs couldn’t have had a hotter hitter at the plate than Kaisa Salani. She already had two singles and a double on the chilly afternoon as she stepped up to the dish. On a 1-0 pitch, she drove one deep to center and out of reach of the Ironwood’s outfielder. She was quickly mobbed at first base by her teammates as they poured out of the dugout for the victory celebration.

“Obviously that was a huge hit and a great way to cap off the afternoon,” said Hancock head coach Randy Heinonen.

To start the second game, the Bulldogs (6-4) jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning. The Red Devils came back with four runs of their own in the third and took a brief lead in the top of the fourth. However, a lead off single by Emilie Scholie and a Salani double set the stage for Sophie Heinonen to knock in some run. She did just that with a hard-hit line drive over the middle for a double and the Bulldogs were back on top by one at 6-5.

“I told the girls that we needed to limit our mistakes and that is what we did,” said Heinonen. “We gave up runs, but we hit the cut offs and took extra bases in that second game. I preach fundamentals, and that is what wins games.”

Ironwood (5-3) scored two in the top of the fifth but the Bulldogs countered with one, and it was 7-7 at the start of the sixth. A Maddison Houtari single drove in Ironwoods Maddie Vaughn and the Red Devils were three outs away from a sweep of the Bulldogs. However, that wouldn’t be the case.

“I give credit to Hancock. They have a great team,” said Ironwood’s head coach John Lorenson. “This was a fun game to play. I would much rather have one of these games than a blowout. This is what we expected. One play here and one play there and this game could have gone either way.”

The opening game between these two was a pitching duel with the Bulldogs being out done 6-1.

“I am proud of my pitcher Maddison Houtari,” said Lorenson. It was a cold night, and she did not walk a girl. She pitched well, and the team in general took some time to get going — but we were able to sneak some runs in.”

The Red Devil’s Tia Lahti started things off in the fifth as she reached first after being hit by a pitch Maddie Vaughn then moved her around with a base hit up the left side and Houtari helped her own cause with a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Lahti. Another hit by pitch and a walk to Andrea Roustala and Kim Maki stepped up to the plate where she slapped an RBI to center, and it was a 4-0 ballgame.

While the Bulldogs got one in the seventh, it wouldn’t be enough.

“I was very happy with our pitcher Kaydence Kilpela,” Heinonen said. “She was a workhorse as she pitched well in both of those games. Overall, I’m happy with the way things have been going for us this season.”

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