Dome Spring Swing may be the only softball high schools see for awhile

MARQUETTE – Participating managers should make videos and take careful notes at this weekend’s 10th annual Marquette Senior High School Spring Swing.

This high school softball event, being held indoors at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome in Marquette, might be the last action teams see for a month or maybe longer.

Ol’ Man Winter doesn’t seem to be ready to release his icy grip, even though spring has been here officially for a week.

Managers like Marquette’s Paul Seibert are already getting ready to look for makeup dates for their first few outdoor games.

“Our first outside game is supposed to be April 17 at Superior Central,” he said. “I don’t know how the fields would be ready by then, unless we hire a helicopter to blow the fields dry once the snow melts.

“And I don’t know when we’ll make up any games, because we already have a couple weeks with nine games scheduled.”

Teams have been allowed to practice for about two weeks now, but conditions outside haven’t even allowed for any kind of realistic scrimmages before the first pitch is thrown in the dome at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Ishpeming faces off against Superior Central in that game on Field 1 of the two set up in the dome. Start times are staggered a half-hour apart between the fields, but otherwise, games will run continuously on them until nearly 11 p.m. Friday, then resume for games from 8:30 a.m. to about 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Sixteen teams, 14 of them varsity squads and all from the Upper Peninsula, will each play three games. Most teams play a game Friday and two Saturday, though some get in two games Friday and others play all three on Saturday.

Schools are coming from as far away as Newberry to the east and Ironwood to the west, but includes the host Redettes, the MSHS JV team, Negaunee and Ishpeming from Marquette County. Other area teams scheduled are Munising, Superior Central, Manistique and Newberry’s Indians.

Rounding out the field are Escanaba – both its varsity and JV teams – Gladstone, Kingsford, Norway, Stephenson and Houghton.

“This is our major fundraiser,” Seibert said about the dome event for his softball team, which like many in the U.P. is self-funded.

Admission price is $5 per day for adults, $3 for students and free for children ages 10 and under. Concession stands run by Redette parents will also be available.

Games can last up to seven innings with a 90-minute time limit per game.

The event is not a tournament, but allows many teams to get in games early and a chance for local fans to satisfy their softball cravings after a long winter.

Marquette not only has a larger roster -14 players – than it has had in several years, but seven are varsity returnees plus two others who were part-time JV callups.

Seibert’s daughter, senior Morgan Seibert, will be the Redettes No. 1 pitcher after logging plenty of innings the past two seasons. She’ll be joined on the rubber by junior Hannah Johnson, who also plays third base, and junior Senja Liimatta, a JV callup a year ago.

In the field, one of the anchors will be senior catcher Angela Brown, who has worked with Morgan Seibert for four years, three of them on varsity.

“Pitching will be one of our strengths, along with an experienced pitcher-catcher battery,” Coach Seibert said. “And we have good speed at the top of the (batting) lineup.”

Converted from third base to centerfield this year will be senior leadoff hitter Courtney LaFreniere, termed a good slap hitter, also a strength of the No. 2 batter, sophomore first baseman Courtney Finkbeiner.

While Finkbeiner was the best hitter on the MSHS JV team last year, LaFreniere earned all-state honorable mention in 2012.

Seibert is penciled in at No. 3 and Brown No. 4 in the batting order, with other probable starters being senior second baseman Whitney LaFave, senior outfielder Karlee Huuki and senior rightfielder Christian Nagelkirk.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.