Hematite easily absorbed by Bulldogs’ defense-focused tactics | Latest Updates on News, Athletics, Work

Hancock pitcher Sadie Bieccola will pitch in Game 1 of a softball doubleheader against Ishpeming at Barry Givens Field at Hancock’s Driving Park on Thursday. Despite the Bulldogs’ bats not being as fast as coach Randy Heinonen would like at this point in the season, the team’s defensive fundamentals are where he wants them to be. The Bulldogs showcased their defense all afternoon on Thursday, overwhelming a young Ishpeming Hematite team 5-1 and 10-0.

Heinonen is proud of his team’s basics, and that was evident in the nightcap when pitcher Sadie Biecola made an error but the rest of the team was able to make up for it. “We work on it every day,” Heinonen said. “We worked on that more than anything else in practice and it showed today. Josie Hembroff was great. Ella Storm was great.”

The Bulldogs struggled all afternoon without a hit from Hematites pitcher Peyton Manninen, making it important to have a strong foundation. “Well, we’re going to concede hits and runs,” Heinonen said. “It’s just limiting. Playing basic ball allows us to limit runs and that’s how we’re doing it today.”

Manager Ben McGuire feels his team played better against Hancock than they did when they were swept away by Westwood on Wednesday, but still wants to see his team help out more. “Yesterday was really bad and we improved a lot,” he said. “My pitchers threw well, but [our] defense let her down a little bit.”

In the nightcap, after Josie Hembrov’s crucial play in the top of the first inning, the Bulldogs had Miley Phillips on the hematite mound ready to do damage in the bottom half. Kaisa Salani pulled out a base. She advanced to third base before Brooke Koskela walked. After that, Koskela decided to steal second base and put both runners in scoring position. After that, Shory scored with a sacrifice hit by Salani, and Koskela scored with a throwing error shortly after that, Hancock took a 2-0 lead.

Bieccola threw 128 pitches and struck out 11 in the season opener, while throwing just 49 pitches and striking out four at the nightcap. Hancock will play Ironwood on Friday before taking three days off and playing Jeffers at Driving Park on Monday.

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