Saralampi sidelined, Esko Impact surges forwardFor catcher Morgan Pera and pitcher Abbey Saralampi, softball goes seemingly from noon to night, nearly every day of the week.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
For catcher Morgan Pera and pitcher Abbey Saralampi, softball goes seemingly from noon to night, nearly every day of the week.
That’s because the pair of Esko best friends play for two16-and-under teams in the summertime, including the traveling Duluth Aerials, along with the league-based Esko Impact. While both play in weekly league action, Pera said it’s not all that unlikely that the Aerials will return from a weekend tournament in the Twin Cities and then the two will have to head over to Sunday practice in Esko.
“We might get a day off,” Pera said, “but it is pretty much go, go, go all of the time. Friday, Saturday and Sunday we have tournaments, mostly, while every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we have league.”
It was during a league game last week where Saralampi fractured her pinky finger when a Hermantown line drive jolted her right hand in the second inning. Saralampi tried to continue the play as the ball dropped, yet screamed as the action was halted and the field silenced.
Her father and coach, Russ Saralampi, then rushed from the dugout, while Pera, catching at the time, gathered teammates in the pitcher’s circle.
“Our shortstop and second baseman said they could hear it pop and crunch,” said Pera. “We were all shocked. I can’t even imagine that.”
“I remember going for the ball but the pain was so bad,” Abbey Saralampi said. “I saw that my finger was deformed. I just screamed.”
Saralampi was taken to St. Mary’s Urgent Care that evening and returned the next day to hear the disappointing news that she’d be out for the season. She had surgery last Friday and now sports a bright orange cast.
Although admitting that it’s disappointing not being on the diamond anymore, Saralampi has kept a positive outlook on her favorite sport.
“I still want to be there as much as I can to support my teams,” she said. “Hopefully therapy can bring my hand back to where it used to be.”
The right-handed Saralampi is Esko’s ace in the spring, as she and her junior classmate Pera have been playing varsity for three years, along with many others. Coach Saralampi said the Esko Impact team has been together for a while and has continued to grow throughout another summer.
“A lot of them have been playing since they were 7 or 8 years old,” Russ Saralampi said. “At this age, it can be tough to keep them focused, but when we play with intensity, they’re one of the best teams out there.”
Russ Saralampi said the Esko Impact are 6-6 in league play this summer and highlighted the efforts of sturdy pitcher Kiana Jablonski, along with his daughter, as well as powerful leadoff shortstop Ashley Bergerson and heavy-hitting first baseman Shawna Johnson.
He also noted their outfield development, too, as the Esko Impact compete in league play with other local teams, including the Carlton Explosion.
“We had a slow start out of the shoot, but these girls have turned it loose on some teams,” said Saralampi, who is also assisted by his oldest daughter, Kelsey, a collegiate pitcher. “There is not a girl on this team that is not capable of hitting the long ball. They are very close knit and if they put it all together, can really go a long ways.”
His daughter knows next week’s summer playoffs come first, though.
“I think we took first in the silver division last year,” said Abbey. “We’ve been playing together so long. I hope we do well again. We have a doubleheader tomorrow and playoffs next week. I’ll be there.”
“I don’t know what I would do for four days without softball,” Pera said. “It must be killing her right now, but Abbey has still been to all of our games and practices. It’s a big part of her life. It is for all of us.”