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Eskomos get split results in doubleheader

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Morgan Pera caught every inning for the Esko softball team Tuesday, but the senior catcher spent almost as much time off the field as she did on it.

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That’s because — in a spring of suffocated scheduling — the Eskomos earned a 10-0 victory over Barnum at Cloquet’s Braun Park before traveling to play Moose Lake-Willow River in the second half of a Polar League doubleheader and an eventual 3-2 defeat.

According to 12th-year Esko Coach Brad Emanuel, after his varsity team’s no-hit, mercy-rule win over the host Bombers, they watched the junior varsity finish 15 minutes later, then boarded a bus and rode 45 minutes south to Willow River and couldn’t regain their readiness.

“It’s hard to do,” said Emanuel. “I could see it right off the get-go. We were focused the first game, but then were flat. Any coach will tell you that you can’t turn it on and then turn it off. You just can’t do that.”

What the Eskomos (6-5) did do against host Barnum Tuesday, though, was toss a no-hitter via the right arm of senior Abbey Saralampi. Behind Saralampi and the team’s nine total hits — including multiple hits from junior Ashley Bergerson and sophomore Elle Emanuel — Esko evaporated any hope for the Bombers early.

“Our team did a good job of making outs,” said Saralampi, who pitched all 12 innings Tuesday, while crediting her teammates for her first career no-no.

Barnum (1-5) didn’t help themselves in the field, either, making a multitude of defensive errors, noted first-year Coach Katie Moench. The Bombers, which have lost five straight since their only win at Braham, also lost to Two Harbors 6-3 at Braun Park after their Esko defeat.

“We had a lot of errors,” said Moench afterward. “Every time we’ve lost this season, we’ve had that one inning. We need to clean it up defensively and not let the other team capitalize.”

Lauren Hultgren, one of four experienced seniors for Barnum, was the losing pitcher in both games.

“It was a long day,” said Moench of the disappointing defeats, “but one thing I like about this team is they stay positive. They’re good kids to be around.”

In the game against ML-WR, Esko saw the Rebels’ Ally Bode hit a lead-off double against Saralampi, before later scoring on an errant throw in the bottom of the first inning. The Eskomos, inconsistent at times this season, eventually responded to tie the game, but never once led.

“We have good games and bad games — this was just one of our bad ones,” admitted Bergerson, the team’s shortstop — who, along with senior Jami Hansen, had three hits on the day.

Pera, one of the team’s eight seniors, said they have to put that day aside, especially with the postseason looming next week.

“We can play a lot better than we did,” Pera said. “Mental errors just got the best of us. We have to learn from it and move on. We’re coming into the playoffs. We have to have a short memory.”


Memory will be fuel for Cloquet, as the Lumberjacks were mercy-ruled by Hermantown 14-2 Tuesday in the second half of a doubleheader at Braun Park. Both teams met in last year's Section 7AA final.

However, in their first game Tuesday, the eight-win Lumberjacks — getting pitching wins and losses both from senior Chandler Beaupre — propelled past Proctor 13-7 in a run-scoring affair lasting nearly two hours.

Two-plus hours away from home Tuesday, Carlton creamed Ely 8-1 behind junior pitching ace Grace Macor and over-the-fence home runs by senior Ashley Hillstrom and sophomore Hannah Benson.

“We got the bats going,” said Coach Callie Langdon of her Bulldogs, which now have 11 wins and only their lone loss to Deer River. “We’re feeling good and gearing up for the playoffs. I think we're ready.”

Cromwell-Wright got its first win in 46 games and over three-plus years when they bested Floodwood earlier this spring, but the Cardinals weren’t ready for Silver Bay Tuesday in Cromwell, falling 23-0.

Falling victim several times this season already has been South Ridge, a team with no seniors and their only victory coming over North Woods, 22-12.

Speaking of victories, that’s all nine-win Moose Lake-Willow River has been doing lately, winning seven of their past eight contests, including a 3-2 edging of league rival Esko Tuesday in Willow River behind the pitching performance of freshman Ally Bode.

“It was a good win for us,” said Bode’s mother and Rebels Coach Kelly Goeb. “It always feels good to beat someone in your conference and in your section.”