Gladstone, Escanaba Split Softball Doubleheader

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos taken by Erica Moore, and to hear post-game comments from Tia Schone, McKayla Mott, Carney Salo, and Esky Coach Andy Fields.

The Gladstone Braves and Escanaba Eskymos met for the final time in the 2023 softball season on Tuesday, and both teams left the field with something to smile about. The Braves pulled out a 4-3 upset in the first game of the doubleheader to earn their first win over their rivals after three straight losses, before the Eskymos cruised to an emotional 8-0 win in the second game to close the regular season.


The nightcap was emotional for the Eskymos because it was the last time the team's five seniors would play together on the Lemmerand Park field that they've played together on since they were little. The seniors were honored during a long ceremony between games of the doubleheader, then they hung around after the second game, seemingly not wanting to leave.


The next time the Eskymos play will be in the MHSAA District semifinals on Saturday, June 3, in Gaylord, likely against top-ranked Gaylord, who the Eskymos upset in the regional final last year. Gaylord will be heavily favored to beat Petoskey in their tournament opener next Tuesday, while the Eskymos have a bye.


Gladstone, meanwhile, took advantage of Escanaba mistakes in the first game and rode the pitching (and fielding) of pitcher Tia Schone to the tight victory.


The Braves took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against young pitcher Maddy Mott, who was filling in for ace Grayson LaMarche, who missed Tuesday's game due to illness. Addie Trombley and Schone got base hits to start the first inning, Montgomery Pepin drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and Reese Herioux singled home a second run.


Pepin started on the mound for the Braves, but Schone replaced her in the second inning when Pepin struggled to throw strikes. Schone took over with the bases loaded, no outs, and a 3-0 count on the batter, but she ended up giving up just one run that inning, and that kept her Braves ahead by a 2-1 score.


Schone threw up more goose eggs as the game went on, and the Braves scored two more runs in the fifth inning when Trombley was safe after a dropped third strike, and Pepin and Herioux both got base hits. Sammy Drielick's ground ball was misplayed at third base, allowing two runs to score, giving Gladstone a 4-1 cushion.


Schone needed every run as the Eskymos came back in the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out, Katy Lamb smoked a pinch-hit double up the right-center field gap, and then Carley McInerney bunted for a hit that Riley Gerow could not handle at third base.


With one out, Salo came through with a line drive base hit to bring home two runs and make it a 4-3 game. The Eskymos had the tying and winning runs on base, but that's when Schone came up big. First, she snared a bullet off the bat of McKayla Mott that was ticketed for center field. Schone got the out at first base. Then with runners on second and third, Escanaba had a chance to walk it off, but Schone was able to get Harlee Coolman to pop up to first base, and the Braves celebrated.


Gladstone had eleven base hits off Maddy Mott, who took the loss despite nine strikeouts. Schone got the win for the Braves with eleven strikeouts, just one walk, and four base hits in six innings of work.


After the emotional between-games ceremony, the Eskymos took care of business in the nightcap. McKayla Mott set the tone by striking out all three girls she faced in the first inning, then she rifled a double off the center field fence to bring in the first run of the game. Pepin tried to start the second game in the circle for Gladstone, but didn't survive the first inning, and Schone had to come in again and threw 4 1/3 innings of relief.


The icing on the cake for Escanaba was a long home run to center field by Carly Bowden, a two-run shot that gave the Eskymos a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning. And Salo, in her final home at-bat, followed with an RBI double to make it a 7-0 game.


Escanaba finished its regular season with a 33-4-1 record, ending a grueling stretch of games that saw the team play a tripleheader Saturday, doubleheaders on both Sunday and Monday, and a doubleheader on Tuesday. That's nine games in four days.


Gladstone improved to 18-8 on the season. The Braves will play a tune-up doubleheader at home next Tuesday against a tough Division Four Norway team (26-7) before heading to the playoffs. The Braves will host the D-3 districts on Friday, June 2nd.

LISTEN: Carney Salo post-game comments
LISTEN: Tia Schone post-game comments
LISTEN: McKayla Mott post-game comments