MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – For the first time in over a decade, a Marquette little league softball team is heading to the state tournament.

The 10U Marquette All-Stars captured a district crown on Tuesday with an 8-6 win over Negaunee to keep their dream season alive.

“This year we had three teams for our little league,” said Justin Gustafson, the head coach for the Marquette All-Stars. “We put together the all-star team for the minors and we had a good run. We had tough games against Negaunee and Ishpeming. We had to beat Negaunee twice. So, it was good. That last game we had some adversity injuries and just girls maybe not having their best games of the year but they all stepped up at the end when we needed to and it was nice to get a huge win.”

“It was really fun,” said Maddy Havel, who plays catcher on the team. “We’ve made a lot of memories by beating all the teams and having fun.”

“It was fun,” said Makayla Gustafson, who is a pitcher for the All-Stars. “I liked playing with my friends and stuff. It was fun to go against some of the other teams.”

“I was very excited,” said Eva Nystrom, who plays shortstop. “I was actually kind of crying but I was really, really excited.”

The girls were their best when it mattered most and didn’t shy away from the pressure of playing in a big game.

“So far, we’ve been super proud of these girls,” said Gustafson. “We’ve battled, and for a lot of them you know it’s their first year and we weren’t expecting this. We’re going to take this opportunity and played hard at states. When it gets to that level you never know what could happen. You have a couple of good games, you get a hot pitcher and a couple of hot at-bats and we can ride this out and hopefully, we can go down, try as hard as we can and hopefully give a good effort for Marquette.”

The All-Stars are hoping to raise funds for their trip which will help with travel, food, and lodging expenses.
They’re holding a can and bottle drive Monday, July 18, and Tuesday, July 19 at Lions Field in Marquette Township.

“There’s going to be a trailer where you can drop off cans,” said Gustafson. “We’re doing whatever we can and anything helps so it’s been great to see that support from the community because like I said the girls haven’t had this opportunity in a long time so we’re just trying to get them the best opportunities to make sure they keep coming out every year to play.”

The players hope they can keep their run going and are ready for the challenge.

“I think we will be able to win a couple of games,” said Makayla Gustafson. “But we’re just going to have to try harder every time.”

“I’m really excited about the states but I’m also really nervous about states because I know the pitchers are going to be really fast,” said Havel. “I’m looking forward to hitting off of fast pitchers.”

“I’m really excited and I’m just really looking forward to just playing and getting that chance,” said Nystrom. It’s going to be amazing.”

The state softball tournament will be held in Gladstone and will begin on July 21st and run through July 28th.

For more information on how you can donate or to follow along with the Marquette All-Stars journey click HERE.