Calumet springs forward
HOUGHTON – No matter what definition is used, Calumet’s fledgling softball program has seen some early adversity.
Some of it, like a winter straight out of “Frozen” and a home field that still isn’t quite playable, isn’t controllable. Some of it, like what they saw in a doubleheader Monday with Houghton, could be overcome, and the Copper Kings did. Calumet swept the twinbill 9-4 and 7-6 (in eight innings).
Calumet trailed briefly in game one before putting it away late. In game two, the Copper Kings were down 6-2 after five innings and down 6-4 with two out in the seventh.
“I think that’s the biggest thing, later on in the game, they were staying patient, staying back and driving the ball,” Calumet co-coach Luke Peterson said.
The Kings had a big adjustment period from game one starter Colleen Toorongian’s pace to game two starter Bekah Goodreau’s deceptive changes of speed, amassing just two hits in the first five innings. They got the plays to tie it up however, as Selena Stromer’s RBI double and Megan Yeo’s RBI single drove in the runs necessary to get the game into extras.
Houghton, meanwhile, recorded its last basehit of the day on Kaitlyn McKay’s RBI single with no outs in the home half of the fourth.
“When they needed a hit, they had someone that stepped up and got a decent hit. We were hitting dribblers at the end and we just couldn’t come through with a big hit or even to get onto base when we needed it,” Houghton coach Melissa Grego said.
After the Gremlins went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, Calumet took the lead on a daring move. Emily Lahnala reached on an error, stole second, was sacrificed to third and charged for home on a play near the center of the diamond, beating the tag.
Calumet stranded an insurance run on third, but pitcher Emily Erkkila, who hit the decisive fielder’s choice, finished off the win strongly, striking out the last two for the victory. Erkkila, a freshman, allowed only three hits and overcame early wildness (six walks in the first four innings). She struck out five.
Stromer went 3-for-4 at the plate for the Kings, with leadoff hitter Clara Loukus kicking in two hits.
For the Gremlins, Goodreau allowed nine hits. She struck out four without a walk.
In the opener, Loukus went 4-for-4 and scored four times and Morgan Peters helped her own cause with two hits and an RBI.
Two hits and three walks helped Houghton take a 3-2 lead, but Calumet overturned that quickly in the third after Loukus’ lead-off single led to a steal, a wild pitch and the tying run on May Beiring’s RBI hit.
After a much longer time on the bases, Beiring, hitting in the two hole, finally scored on a bases-loaded walk to Ellen Twardzik (hitting seventh).
The final score betrayed a relatively close game, both because Calumet tacked on three runs in the top of the seventh and because Houghton could not turn three straight hits and a walk to begin the bottom of the sixth into any runs: Lexi Pyykkonen was thrown out trying to score from second on Goodreau’s single, Ashlyn Kero was retired at the plate via forceout after a comebacker to the pitcher’s circle, and Lisa Keskimaki grounded into a fielder’s choice at third to end the inning.
It was a tough day for a Houghton team yet to establish an identity this early in the season.
“I think they’re a little shy right now and I want them to come out of their shell and reach their full potential,” Grego said.
Keskimaki had a pair of early singles for the Gremlins. Toorongian took the loss despite striking out nine. She allowed seven earned runs on 12 hits.
Peters, the winning pitcher, allowed three earned runs on seven hits. She walked 10, but struck out six.
Due to a second straight bizarre spring, both teams’ schedules are heavily edited from their original versions. Houghton is making up a game at home with Jeffers Wednesday instead of a regularly scheduled trip to Ironwood. Calumet will play at Hancock tonight in a make-up game that will bump a Bulldogs-Kings game scheduled later in the week to a later point in the schedule.
“We still have not really hit the ball as good as we can. We have actually a lot of power on this team, and I think as we play more and more and we’re able to adjust to different speeds on pitchers and different games, I think we’ll really be driving the ball,” Peterson said.