IRONWOOD — The Ironwood softball team came from behind to roll over Hancock 23-8 in non-conference action at the John Krznarich Field on Monday.
The game (and one-half) was a preview of the MHSAA District Softball Tournament first round game that will be played between the two teams on May 28 at 1 p.m. in Norway. The semifinals and championship game will be played on May 31 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m ., respectively.
Game 1 — Ironwood 23,
After trailing Hancock 7-5 in the second inning, Ironwood slugged its way to a 23-8 win. The Red Devils used a big 11-run fourth inning to seal the victory over the Bulldogs, who are one of several U.P. softball team playing in its first season.
“Hitting is our strength and it was nice to see the bats come through,” Ironwood manager Noel Aho said. “We really started hitting in the fourth inning and had 20 total hits. We were short-handed today, but we hit well and the defense was all right. And our young girls showed what they can do. We lose seven seniors next year, so I was very impressed with them.”
Ironwood senior Dani McCullough made only her second appearance on the mound. She shut down Hancock in the first inning, but ran into a wild spell in the second inning and gave up seven runs. But McCullough, a catcher most days, has played a lot of softball and didn’t panic. She got it together and only surrendered one run in the last three innings.
“For her second time out, Dani didn’t do bad,” Aho said. “As a senior, she stepped up and did what we asked her to do. She was pretty composed and confident and she may help us down the road.”
McCullough was the winning pitcher and gave up five hits while walking 11. She also whiffed seven Bulldogs.
Kaitlyn Tolstam put on the catching gear for the first time since Little League.
“That was Kaityln’s first time behind the plate and she did a good job on such short notice,” Aho said. “And she hit well again, going 4-5 with a triple.”
The Red Devils have been known to give the rawhide a ride and Monday afternoon was no different.
Freshman Alyssa Huotari was perfect at the plate, going 5-5 and scoring four runs. Payton Aho had a 3-4 night and scored four runs.
Coach Aho was also pleased with the play of young players, Marissa Combs and Cassie Muzzy. She said both hit well and played “nice defense.”
Hancock 0 7 1 0 0 — 8 7 2
Ironwood 5 3 4 (11) x — 23 20 2
The second game of the doubleheader was called off after two innings due to heavy rains. Ironwood was leading 13-0 at the time.
“It was too bad we couldn’t finish off the game,” Aho said.
Ironwood travels to Kingsford today for a non-conference doubleheader at 4 p.m. that could end regular-season play. The Red Devils own a 14-5 overall record and they are 6-2 in Indianhead Conference play, which places them in a tie with Hurley for first place. There are still some unplayed conference games, but it is unclear at this time whether they will be made up.