Prep softball: Negaunee responds after getting pushed by Westwood batters early on

NATIONAL MINE – The scores didn’t look impressive for Westwood, but the Patriots did accomplish one thing – they got the attention of a veteran Negaunee high school softball team.

The first-year Westwood team, playing its third doubleheader of the season, was pummeled 18-3 in three innings and 22-2 in four at their home field in National Mine on Monday afternoon.

But the Pats could take at least some credit for the Miners outburst after stringing together five hits, four consecutively, in the second inning of Game 1 to get all their runs that game.

“We seem to wait until we get pushed,” NHS coach John Anderson said about his team’s offense. “We got up 7-0 in our first two times up, then they score three on us.”

After that happened, the Miners rolled up 11 runs in the top of the third inning, and with Westwood going down on three straight strikeouts in the bottom of the inning, the 15-run mercy rule was invoked.

“Once the girls got focused, they started waiting for pitches they could do something with,” Anderson said.

All that firepower made a Game 1 winner of Negaunee junior Rosalie Anderson, who along with sister Adena Anderson, a sophomore, are the Miners’ ace pitchers.

“They were timing it well,” Rosalie Anderson answered in response to how Westwood’s Sam Beauchamp, Dana Niemisto, Shana Caliguri, Hannah Salmi and Kate Rankinen notched those hits in one inning.

Caliguri’s was a double and knocked in two runs.

“My pitching, I definitely still have some work to do,” Rosalie Anderson said. “It’s early and we’ve only been outside a couple of times for practice. It’s not the same practicing indoors.”

John Anderson said his team’s outdoor games – seven – far outnumber their practices in the fresh air – just two.

“I guess we’re going to get some good practice the rest of the week,” he said, outlining his team’s doubleheaders today (at home vs. Houghton at 4 p.m.), Wednesday (at Marquette) and Thursday (vs. Gladstone), not to mention nine more games next week, too.

Westwood coach Libby Nelson is pleased with the progress of her girls, about half of whom had only played slowpitch before this spring.

“I just want to make sure we make contact at the plate and keep the ball between the foul lines,” she said, talking about several softball staples – slap hitting and drag bunting. “If you do that, you put a lot of pressure on the defense to make plays.

“Once we get our timing and our confidence, I think we’ll be surprising some people.”

Like Negaunee, the Patriots have had little outdoor practice this spring as the National Mine field still had some soggy spots just outside the fences on Monday despite sunny, breezy conditions that neared 70 degrees.

Adena Anderson, who picked up the Game 2 pitching win, also starred at the plate Monday, going a combined 6 of 7 over the two games, including a double and two triples, with seven RBIs and six runs scored.

One of her hits in the opener needed just one or two hops to reach the outfield fence and cleared a loaded set of bases smack dab in the middle of the 11-run rally that effectively ended the game.

Amanda Washnock and Rosalie Anderson each totaled four hits in five at-bats as Washnock had two doubles and collected seven RBIs.

A Westwood highlight in the opener was a bang-bang double play with the bases loaded in the second started by Salmi at third base as she touched the bag and threw home to catcher Amber Salo, who made the tag on a runner no longer in a force-out situation.

In the nightcap, Salmi got the Patriots’ lone hit off Negaunee reliever Ashley Anderson.

Like Negaunee, Westwood is also back in action today with a home doubleheader scheduled against another first-year program, Ishpeming, at 4 p.m. in National Mine.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.