Eskomos fell 'Jacks in a close one
It's always a good game when Cloquet meets Esko in softball -- but if you listen to the coaches after Monday's 6-4 Eskomo win, it's not as simple as that. "My expectations for this part of the season are a little higher," said Esko coach Jeff Ema...
It's always a good game when Cloquet meets Esko in softball - but if you listen to the coaches after Monday's 6-4 Eskomo win, it's not as simple as that.
"My expectations for this part of the season are a little higher," said Esko coach Jeff Emanuel. "We were sloppy in some areas. I think we need to clean them up, but we're a quarter of the way through our season with most of our starters returning from a state tournament run last year."
"It was a good game," Cloquet coach Ron Tondryk said, "but we always feel if we're close, we should win. We gave up five unearned runs; they hit the ball and made us make plays and we didn't do it. It took us half the game to warm up our bats."
Emilee Wilson pitched a complete game for Esko, striking out 10 and walking two while allowing five hits. Josie Steen started for Cloquet and allowed five unearned runs and two hits.
Ashley Pollema had three hits for Esko while Ava Gonsorowski homered and drove in two. Lindsey Lamirande had two hits for Cloquet and Kiana Bender also had a pair of safeties.
"Wilson is the fastest pitcher we've seen," Tondryk said. "Our bats were good against Grand Rapids (in a season-opening 7-6 win April 13) but we need to improve our defense."
For his part, Emanuel said Wilson, who is a junior, has a bright future.
"She's working on changing speeds but always learning," he said. "You don't have to tell Emilee to work hard, she just does it naturally. She controls her own destiny as far as what she wants in the game. She can easily be one of the top pitchers in the area."
Emanuel wouldn't mind seeing sharper play from his team, though.
"A lot of it is communicating defensively, positioning, lazy bats, not moving runners and not bringing in runners from third base with less than two outs," he said. "We need to move runners better."
Tondryk is still pleased with his team's start.
"They have been working really hard; they are coming together as a team," he said. "I hope that will lead to wins, but it's fun to coach kids who are really present, who are taking it all in, playing what we are teaching, and now we get into game situations where they can run with what they learn. It's a very good group of young ladies."
Esko has eight seniors, three of whom play regularly.
"All the seniors contribute," Emanuel said. "We have four juniors who are solid, our sophomores get playing time and we have two freshmen who are playing well too. They play because they deserve to play so with our depth it's hard to get everyone the playing time they should."
"We're really young," Tondryk said of the Lumberjacks. "We have four seniors, but most of the rest of our core is ninth- and 10th-graders. But we're confident and I'm confident."
Esko is next scheduled to play Friday at home against Virginia, then Monday at Carlton and will host Cook County Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Cloquet postponed its Tuesday game against Duluth East because of weather, but hosted Osseo Wednesday as this edition of the Pine Journal went to press. Stepping up a class to play a bigger Twin Cities team is deliberate.
"We wanted to challenge these kids with the schedule," Tondryk said. "We had a cancellation so we wanted to play a bigger team and give the kids that kind of experience."