The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Midgettes win 1st regional since '11


May 28, 2016

Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Hurley celebrates the WIAA Division 4 regional championship with coach Jim Kivisto Friday at the Hurley K-12 School. From left are Allison Waterhouse and Ashley Clement.

HURLEY - It seemed like every ground ball was going just to the left of Hurley shortstop Maria Swartz during the WIAA Division 4 regional final Friday.

But with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning, the ball went right to her. She tagged the runner going to third and threw to first baseman Brooke Piilola to complete the 6-3 double play and the 11-7 victory over Gilman.

It was Hurley's first regional title since 2011 and 19th in program history.

Swartz's double play was an exciting finish to an exciting game.

"All I remember is looking at Brooke Piilola and she's like, 'Maria, Maria!,' so I spur of the moment threw down to her and next thing I know there's Jimmy, arms wide open," Swartz said. "It was awesome - greatest win of my life, couldn't be prouder."

That hug kicked off the celebration as the team gathered around Swartz and Hurley manager Jim Kivisto.

"I'm just proud of the girls," he said. "They're excited right now. It's the first regional in a few years for us. Hopefully we can take this momentum into Tuesday."

That's when the No. 2 seeded Midgettes play No. 1 Shell Lake in a sectional semifinal in Minong at 4:30 p.m. Gilman was the 3 seed in the half-sectional.

Hurley has struggled a bit offensively of late, but they struck first with seven runs in the bottom of the first Friday. Gilman came right back with six runs in the second inning and the close contest most expected was back on.

The difference was that Hurley kept scoring, another run in every inning but the fifth, while Gilman only tacked on a run in the fourth.

"That was huge," Kivisto said.

So was the first inning.

Hurley loaded the bases to start the game as Tianne Kuula and Tori Colassaco walked and Paige Aho was hit by a pitch.

Swartz's sacrifice fly got Hurley on the board and Piilola took a walk to reload the bases. Allison Waterhouse hit a ground ball to short, but Gilman's throw home wasn't in time and Colassaco scored.

Catcher Mackenzie McCorkle came through with the big hit of the inning, smashing a triple to the left-center field fence, driving in three runs and giving Hurley a 5-0 lead.

"Mackenzie came up with a big, huge hit there," Kivisto said.

Briana Saari hit a sac-fly and Kuula knocked in a run with a base hit. That put Hurley up 7-0.

"I was so happy to get the seven runs because I knew they were going to hit us," Kivisto said. "Before the game, I was just thinking we're going to need eight runs to win the game."

Assistant coach Steve Eder scouted Gilman in its regional semifinal Thursday and preached patience at the plate as pitcher Emily Johnson wasn't hitting her spots that night. It paid off with the three first-inning walks.

Gilman got right back in the game in the second. They got ahead in the count, tallied three hits, and took advantage of Hurley errors.

"We had the one big inning, where we really got the bat on the ball," said Gilman coach Brian Phelps, who said his team struggled to adjust to what he called the slowest pitching it saw all season. "We hit the ball solid all the way through, we just couldn't group them after that. It just happens.

"I'm really proud of the kids. They showed up, battled all the way back. They had a rough first inning, but they've got a lot of heart."

From there, Hurley scored a run in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings.

They took advantage of two errors in the second and then scored on a ground ball by Piilola. Colassaco drove in a run in the third with a ground ball to short. Saari knocked in Hurley's 10th run of the game with a two-out, two-strike single in the fourth. A double by Kuula in the sixth capped the scoring.

After the rough second inning, Hurley pitcher Paige Aho settled in. She gave up an unearned run in the fourth, but she got Gilman out in order in the fifth and sixth innings, which included the 1 through 5 hitters.

The seventh inning didn't go so easily.

"Before the inning I said to Steve, let's not make this hard, OK," Kivisto said.

Instead, Gilman loaded the bases before popping out to record the first out. Gilman's leadoff hitter, Johnson, hit the ball on the ground right to Swartz and her double play delivered Hurley some hardware.

"I was actually telling the girls to take the easy out, we just need to get one out here and we ended up getting two. She did a great job," Kivisto said. "She did it exactly right. She tagged the runner and threw her out at first."

Kuula had three hits to lead Hurley. The bottom of the order was also big, No. 7 hitter McCorkle had two hits, including the big first-inning triple, and No. 8 hitter Saari had two hits.

"She had two hits and a sacrifice fly; for the No. 8 spot, that's huge," Kivisto said. "It shows what we can do when we're all there, when we're all focused in as a team."

It was a great game with a great atmosphere with the morning start time with students also able to watch the game on a school day.

"It was just nice that we kept battling and battling," Kivisto said. "We played with energy and excitement today. It was great the administration let everybody come here and watch. That was a great game to watch. If you haven't watched it, that's the way softball should be played. For the young girls that were here, the young kids that are playing softball at the younger ages, now they think, 'Hey this is something to see.' It was a great win."

Cochrane-Fountain City meets Lincoln in the other sectional semi at Chippewa Falls Tuesday. The sectional final is at Eau Claire Memorial Thursday at 7 p.m.

Gilman 0 6 0 1 0 0 0 - 7 10 4

Hurley 7 1 1 1 0 1 x - 11 9 7


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