Powering through: Bulldogs softball hits home runs as they sweep Modeltowners

As catcher Brooke Koskela (13) approaches home plate after hitting a home run, her Hancock teammates storm home plate to celebrate during the first inning of a game against Gwinn Monday at the Hancock Driving Park. (Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette)

HANCOCK — After a tough doubleheader against the Coleman Cougars on Saturday, which saw the Hancock Bulldogs softball team earn a split on the road, the Bulldogs returned home Monday to sweep the Gwinn Modeltowners, 15-0, 15-0. The Bulldogs needed just six innings to roll to the two victories.

Coupled with a doubleheader against the Jeffers Jets and one with the Houghton Gremlins last week, the Bulldogs have seen a number of teams over the past week that play differing styles, which coach Craig Biekkola hopes will help his team be prepared for almost anything when it comes to tournament play at the end of the season.

“I mean, the main thing is adjusting back to the speed of the pitching,” Craig said. “So, it’s gone from slower to extremely fast, back to slow. The girls have done pretty well with it. They’re getting more and more experienced with it, I guess, more ready for it. So, they did a nice job today.”

In the opening game, seemingly every Bulldogs batter was guilty of swinging at a pitch that was too high, or too slow, but as they settled in, during their second time at bat in the first inning, they got their bats on pitches, and that led to loaded bases and two home runs as part of a 12-run start.

Catcher Brooke Koskela had one of the two home runs when she launched one over the left field fence that one-hopped to the fence of the field next to the one the Bulldogs were playing on. Pitcher Sadie Biekkola rocked the next one with the bases loaded.

Pitcher Sadie Biekkola (8) approaches home plate after hitting a grand slam while her Hancock teammates storm home plate to celebrate during the first inning of a game against Gwinn Monday at the Hancock Driving Park. (Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette)

“We’re trying to tell them to stay relaxed, and not get too anxious,” Craig said. “We faced a little slower pitching. That’s tough to not get too anxious and start chasing pitches. They did a nice job today of waiting to find one that was in the straight zone, and when they were, we hit them hard.”

Sadie Biekkola was also good in the pitcher’s circle, where she threw five strikeouts in three innings while facing the minimum number of batters. She also went 2-for-2 at the plate with four RBI and two runs scored.

Right fielder Mallory Sporalski was also good at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored.

As a team, the Bulldogs scored just two runs in the second and then added one in the third to seal the win.

Koskela finished her day with four RBI while going 1-for-2 at the plate.

In the nightcap, Diem Kilpela took to the pitcher’s circle, and she held the Modeltowners off the scoreboard. She faced 11 batters, and struck out eight over three innings.

In her first career start, she did things that really impressed her coaches.

“Over the course of the season, if you can have three arms, that benefits our starting pitcher, and that’s what we need,” said Craig. “(We wanted her to) just focus on throwing strikes, and she did a really nice job.”

Craig said that he had a chat with Kilpela prior to the start, and he felt that she focused well on her timing, which made a difference.

“She took her time,” Craig said. “We talked about that before the game. The pitcher controls the pace of the game, and she had a couple of pitches that got away from her, but, other than that, I think she took her time and was focused. She did a really nice job.”

The Bulldogs helped Kilpela out by picking up one run in the first inning before exploding for seven each in the second and the third to seal the victory.

Center fielder Sofie Freeman racked up a pair of doubles, going 2-for-3 at the plate. She knocked in two runs while scoring a pair as well. Third baseman Sydnie Scholie had a big game hitting fifth in the Bulldogs’ lineup. She went 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored.


The Bulldogs continue their busy week at L’Anse Tuesday, weather-permitting. Thursday, they host Norway before facing Iron Mountain on the road on Friday.


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