Weathering the storm: Bulldogs softball takes pair from Jets in wind-whipped doubleheader

Bulldogs softball takes pair from Jets in wind-whipped doubleheader

Daver Karnosky/Daily Mining Gazette Hancock’s Sydnie Scholie connects with a pitch during the first inning of a game against Jeffers on Tuesday at the Hancock Driving Park.

HANCOCK — Early season softball can be a difficult game for a high school to play, for a myriad of reasons, from lack of preparation time to the weather.

For the Hancock Bulldogs, who were playing their first games Tuesday since the Spring Swing tournament in Marquette, getting back on the field to play games was what they were focused on, but nothing could really prepare them for howling winds and cold temperatures.

For the Jeffers Jets, who were playing their first games of the season, getting on the field for just the third time this spring proved to be a challenge before they could even worry about how the high winds would affect their play. For first-year coach Sienna Jaehnig, just having her team on the field was an accomplishment.

“This is the third time that we’ve been out on a field, because ours has been totally swampy, so we haven’t had a lot of field time,” she said. “It was my first game ever coaching, too, so that was interesting. But, I’m proud of the girls. They played. They played as hard as they could.”

The Bulldogs cruised to a 15-0 mercy win in the opener in just three innings, but the Jets proved scrappy in the nightcap, turning an 8-0 deficit into an 8-2 score with the bases loaded, but ultimately, they could not get another run home in an eventual 12-2 loss in five innings.

Hancock’s first-year coach Craig Biekkola was happy to get his girls on the field in a meaningful way Tuesday.

“Well, it’s nice being on the field again after a few weeks without any game action,” he said. “The weather wasn’t the best with the wind and stuff, but, you know, just being outdoors again and getting the season kicked off, it’s nice being out.”

In the first game, the Bulldogs turned to Sadie Biekkola in the pitcher’s circle, and she shut down the Jets after giving up a leadoff single to first baseman Naomi Frahm. Two other Jets’ hitters reached first base, left fielder Gracie Moyle on a fielder’s choice, and later pitcher Janet Mattila got to first after being hit by a pitch, but that was all the offense Jeffers could muster.

Sadie finished her day striking out six and surrendering one hit in three innings.

On the other side of the field, Hancock struck in the bottom of the first inning after left fielder Sofie Freeman walked and then scored on a sacrifice by catcher Brooke Koskela. Sadie Biekkola then walked, stole second and third on consecutive passed balls, and then scored on a third passed ball as right fielder Megan Pelto walked. Pelto got to second before the play came to an end.

Shortstop Kaelyn Rouleau doubled to the center field fence, scoring Pelto.

Things got out of control for the Jets in the second inning. First baseman Mallory Sporalski started things off with a single. She then reached second on a passed ball. Second baseman Josie Hembroff walked. Freeman followed with a walk, loading the bases. Sporalski then scored on a passed ball to make it 4-0 Hancock.

Koskela walked, which loaded the bases again, and Hembroff scored on a passed ball while Sadie Biekkola was at the plate. Biekkola then reached on error, loading the bases for a third time. Pelto walked, scoring Freeman. Biekkola then scored on a passed ball, making it 8-0.

With two on, center fielder Ella Storm drilled a ball to near the center field fence, and she came all the way around to score a three-run, inside-the-park home run. Sporalski then hit one to nearly the same spot, and she came around to score on a defensive error. Hembroff walked and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Freeman to make it 13-0 before Biekkola flew out to end the inning.

Craig Biekkola felt that, while his team found success at the plate, there is still a lot of room for them to grow.

“We struggled at times,” he said. “I mean, we had a few good innings where we put the ball in play.

“The girls were getting a little antsy, though. They weren’t seeing as many strikes as they wanted, and started to chase the pitches a little bit. So, that’s something that we’ve got to work on.”

In the third inning, Jaehnig pulled Mattila from the pitcher’s circle and inserted freshman Aya Keteri. In her first game as a varsity player, she struggled a little, walking two batters and surrendering two runs, but Jaehnig was happy with what she saw out of the freshman.

“She was real nervous,” Jaehnig said. “She didn’t think she could do it, but she did it, so I’m so proud of her.”

Pelto drew the first walk to lead off. Third baseman Sydnie Scholie singled to second, and advanced to second on an error, which also scored Pelto. Rouleau drew a walk, and a defensive error scored Scholie to seal the win.

In the nightcap, Keteri went four innings on the mound for the Jets, and she racked up three strikeouts while surrendering 13 hits. She also walked three. However, at the plate, she came up with two hits, including a triple, and scored a run.

While her coach did not have many words to say about her young pitcher after the game in the cold temperatures, she addressed the youngster’s effort with a huge smile on her face.

“She did so great,” said Jaehnig. “I’m very proud of her.”

The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after one inning before Keteri settled in.

Storm got Hancock started with a double to lead off. Two batters later, she scored on a double by Sadie Biekkola. Pelto and Scholie walked to load the bases, and a single by Sporalski scored both Biekkola and Pelto. Two batters later, second baseman Chloe Bastian singled to center, knocking in both Scholie and Sporalski, pushing the Bulldogs’ lead to 5-0.

Storm then singled to left field, scoring two more runs as she knocked first baseman Diem Kilpela and Bastian home.

In the bottom of the second, Kilpela doubled to right field to bring Sporalski home and put the hosts up 8-0.

The game remained 8-0 into the top of the fourth. Keteri got the Jets started with a leadoff single. She then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Paige Danison walked, and both scored on a double by Frahm to left field.

The Jets then loaded the bases when Moyle walked, but they could not bring home another run in the inning.

The score remained 8-2 into the bottom of the fifth before the Bulldogs got four runs to seal the win. Kilpela, catcher Alice Larson, Bastian, and Storm all scored in the inning.

Scholie threw five innings, giving up just three hits and two runs while striking out nine to earn the win for Hancock.


The Bulldogs are back in action Thursday when they travel to face Houghton for a pair of games starting at 4 p.m.


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