Prep softball: Marquette sweeps Rapid River despite just one RBI hit in two games

MARQUETTE – They may not have perfected it yet, but the Marquette Redettes softball team has worked on becoming a pretty good “small ball” team.

“We have a hard time when we’re not getting any offense, but it’s nice to have a team with some speed,” coach Paul Seibert said after MSHS swept Rapid River 4-1 and 4-2 at Hurley Field in south Marquette on Wednesday evening to improve to 13-7.

“And now we have another slap hitter this year, so we can put some pressure on the opposing defenses.”

Wednesday was a good indication of the Redettes’ ability to play “small ball,” where hits aren’t necessary to produce runs, since Marquette had just one RBI hit between the two games.

They did need hits to get on base, however, as the losing pitcher in each game, the Rockets’ Neena Brockway, didn’t walk or hit a batter and her defense only committed four errors over the two games.

“I’ve told our team we need to have a district tournament-caliber of play now,” RR coach George Kanyuh said. “We were facing a very good opponent and we need to bring our A-game mentality to the field.

“Except for one inning in the first game, these girls met my expectations. And even in that bad inning, they battled through it and played strongly.

“I like playing Marquette. You know you’re always going to get a good, solidly played game from them.”

Marquette used several suicide squeezes, a couple of bounce-outs, two errors and even a strikeout to score runs Wednesday. Oh yes, and a single by senior Angela Brown scored a run in the fourth inning of the opener.

The Redettes totaled 15 hits, something the coach hasn’t always been able to depend upon.

“If weren’t not getting the hits, we can lay down bunts till we can figure it out,” Seibert said about opposing pitchers. “It always seems like we’re working on getting our confidence at the plate. Hitting is contagious – once you get a few, they start coming in bunches.”

The biggest bunch came off the bat of senior Morgan Seibert in the nightcap. After pitching the Redettes to victory in the opener, she moved to shortstop for Game 2 and went 3 for 3 with two doubles, scoring a first-inning run on an error.

Earlier in the inning, senior Courtney LaFreniere singled, stole second and third, and scored on a bounce-out by the next batter, junior Hannah Johnson.

The rally erased RR’s second straight 1-0 lead, the second-game advantage coming on Hannah Kanyuh’s walk, steal, and Savannah Stenlund’s RBI single.

But the inning had to be frustrating for the Rockets, who left the bases loaded when Game 2 winner Senja Liimatta induced a bounce-out to end the rally.

The Redettes junior gave the Rockets a chance to play their own brand of small ball as she walked six, but Marquette’s defense committed just one error each game as RR managed only three singles off Liimatta.

Rapid River stranded two runners in the sixth and put two more aboard in the top of the seventh. But the game ended with a liner by Brockway to MSHS senior second baseman Karlee Huuki, who snared the screamer and took about four steps to her right for an unassisted double play.

“That really was a nice play to see because I thought they were getting a hit out of it,” Paul Seibert said of an at-bat that could’ve put the tying run on base with one out.

The Rockets scored the first run of the day on a two-out error and single by Aslynn Brockway in the third inning of the opener. Brown tied it in the fourth with her RBI single to score LaFreniere, who had doubled, but RR retook the lead in the top of the sixth on a two-out walk by Neena Brockway and RBI double by Stenlund.

MSHS plated three runs in the bottom of the sixth on back-to-back sacrifice bunts after LaFreniere hit a one-out triple. The first was a successful suicide squeeze by Johnson, the second a regular sac bunt by Seibert that with an error scored another run. One more run came in on another error.

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