KINGSLEY – The district tournament isn’t too far away.
On Saturday, it was a postseason type of feel for the Cheboygan softball team, which competed at the Kingsley tournament. In the end, it was a magnificent day for the Chiefs, who took home the tournament title with a 7-3 victory over Kingsley and then a 7-4 triumph over Big Rapids in the final.
“The girls came to play ball today – they came and played good Cheboygan ball today,” said Cheboygan coach Mike LaLonde. “Good defense, good offense. The girls really made some nice plays. There were some very good teams at this tournament, and the girls did a really nice job.”
Against Kingsley in the opener, the Chiefs received strong pitching from sophomore Libby VanFleet, who tossed a six-inning complete game with seven strikeouts, four hits allowed and three walks.
“It was one of her better games all year,” LaLonde said of VanFleet’s performance. “She was spotting the ball well, she was snapping the ball and throwing it hard. She was on a mission. She had some friends on the (Kingsley) team that were on her travel team, so it was fun for her. The girls played some good defense and made some plays.”
Kaitlyn Penfield went 3-for-3 with three RBI to lead Cheboygan’s offense, while VanFleet went 2-for-3. Emerson Eustice, Amelia Johnson, Marley Couture and Shayla Lavigne also recorded hits.
Following up VanFleet’s game one pitching display was Johnson, who had a strong outing of her own against Big Rapids. In six innings of work, Johnson struck out two, allowed four hits and walked two to earn the win.
“(Johnson) threw well,” LaLonde said. “When (Big Rapids) put the ball in play, our girls made some nice plays. This is a great warmup for districts. The girls came to swing the bat today.”
Fueling Cheboygan’s hitting attack was LaVigne, who went 2-for-2 with a triple and a double, drove in two runs and scored two runs. Zoey Chamberlain had a hit and knocked in a run, VanFleet doubled and scored a run, and Eustice doubled. Ashlynn Beaudry, Penfield, Johnson and Couture rounded out the Chiefs with a hit apiece.
After hosting Inland Lakes on Monday, the Chiefs (18-7, 10-0 Straits Area Conference) will finish off its conference season with a home doubleheader against Sault Ste. Marie on Tuesday. Cheboygan also travels to Rogers City for its regular season finale on Thursday, May 26.
Chiefs win game two of thrilling doubleheader
CHEBOYGAN – It’s becoming a fun rivalry between the Cheboygan and Escanaba baseball teams.
In just under a couple of weeks, the Chiefs and Eskymos could square off in what would be an epic district final.
But on Saturday, the two foes went at it right before the postseason, with each team earning a victory during a doubleheader in Cheboygan.
After suffering a 3-1 loss in the opener, the Chiefs (25-2-1) fought their way back to earn a walk-off 5-4 victory in game two.
“Overall, I was very happy with what I saw,” said Cheboygan coach Kevin Baller. “The kids had an opportunity to learn a lot. They learned a lot about Escanaba, and a lot about what it’s going to take to win big ballgames. We made a couple mistakes that ended up coming back and hurting us in both games. Unfortunately we weren’t able to recover from our mistakes in the first game, but the second game we were able to. To be successful, you have to minimize the mistakes, especially in big situations.”
While the Chiefs built a 4-1 lead after four innings in the second contest, the Eskymos (19-8) chipped away by scoring a run in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to tie things up.
With the contest going to an international tiebreaker rule in the eighth, the Chiefs allowed no runs to get to the bottom half of the inning. Dylan Balazovic later hit an RBI sacrifice fly that scored Jacob Jankoviak for a one-run Cheboygan triumph.
Daniel Wilcome led the Chiefs with three hits, two RBI and a run scored, while teammate Henry Stempky tallied three hits and scored two runs. Adding a hit apiece were Sean Postula (run), Cole Hudson, Eli Couture and Jankoviak.
Wilcome, who was the winning pitcher for Cheboygan, tossed the last two innings in relief, striking out three and allowing no hits. Tyler Balazovic started and pitched 2 2/3 innings, striking out four, allowing three hits and walking three. Kaleb Blaskowski came on in relief to toss 2 2/3 innings, striking out two, walking three and allowing a hit. Jankoviak pitched 1 1/3 innings in relief, striking out one, allowing a hit and walking one.
Stempky took the loss on the mound in game one, striking out 15, walking three and allowing two hits in 6 2/3 innings pitched. Blaskowski pitched 1/3 innings, recording an out.
Jankoviak doubled, singled and scored a run, Couture had two hits and an RBI, and Blaskowski and Tyler Balazovic registered a hit apiece for the Chiefs.
For Baller and the Chiefs, they certainly seem like they’re enjoying their competitive battles with the Eskymos these days.
“I think it’s a very good rivalry because Escanaba always has very good baseball,” Baller said. “We have been a very competitive team over the years, and I think it’s a little rivalry. Both teams, they want to win, and you’re going up against better teams in the state when it comes time for districts to roll around, but it’s a big rivalry. There’s no way getting around it.”
The two teams could face off again if each is able to make the district final in Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday, June 4. Cheboygan will face Marquette in a district semifinal matchup, while Escanaba will take on either Sault Ste. Marie or Kingsford in a semifinal on the same day.
Mosher finishes third, sixth at Division 2 regionals
CHARLEVOIX – Junior sprinter Keegan Mosher once again led the way for the Cheboygan boys track and field team at a Division 2 regional meet held in Charlevoix on Saturday.
Mosher finished third in the 100 (11.45) and sixth in the 200 (23.69) to pace the Cheboygan boys, who finished 13th with 18 points. However, Mosher fell just short of qualifying for the state finals, which will be held at Grand Rapid Forest Hills Eastern High School on Saturday, June 4.
Freeland (124 points) won the boys regional title, while Petoskey (98) and Gladwin (98) tied for second.
Meanwhile, the Cheboygan girls, who finished 14th with two points, were led by an eighth-place finish from sophomore Kinsey Carptenter in the 100 (13.33).
Petoskey (123) was the girls regional champion. Freeland (109.5) earned runner-up honors.
The location of the regional meet was changed to Charlevoix due to a tornado that took place in Gaylord on Friday.
Chiefs soccer ties Ogemaw, comes back to top Tawas
WEST BRANCH – The chances were there.
Unfortunately for the Cheboygan girls soccer team, it didn’t convert enough of its opportunities and had to settle for a 1-1 tie at Ogemaw Heights on Saturday.
The Chiefs (11-4-1, 10-1-1 Northern Michigan Soccer League) took the lead over the Falcons (9-4-3, 6-3-3) with a goal from Cassidy Jewell, which was assisted by Addy Baldwin.
However, the Chiefs later paid for their squandered chances when the Falcons were awarded a penalty kick with 15 minutes remaining. The Falcons converted the penalty to equalize and eventually salvage the tie.
“We had ample opportunities to keep the lead,” said Cheboygan coach Tom Markham. “Just right, just left, just over the top, (Ogemaw’s goalkeeper) had good saves. It was just one of those days where it wouldn’t have been a concern if we buried a few of those chances we had.”
On Thursday, May 19, the Chiefs came from behind to capture a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Tawas at home.
After going down 1-0 in the first half, the Chiefs evened things up when Madison Farver delivered a pass to Camille Aper, who made it 1-1 with a goal before the break.
The Chiefs took the lead late in the second half thanks to a goal from Kenzie Burt, which was assisted on a through ball by Lizzie Lopiccolo.
“I was pleased with our performance,” Markham said. “They showed a lot of grit battling back from behind.”
This article originally appeared on Cheboygan Daily Tribune: Cheboygan Roundup Baseball Softball Soccer