Cougars get to star

ESCANABA – A trio of recent Superior Central graduates were productive Wednesday night as they helped the South sweep to 2-1 and 12-9 victories over the North in the second annual Upper Peninsula High School All-Star softball games at Lemerand Park.

Vanessa Freberg, selected the South’s Most Valuable Player, had two hits and drove in three runs in the second game. Teslyn Tyner added two hits in the nightcap and scored the game-winner in the opener, and home run derby winner Molly Swajanen clubbed a roundtripper to leftfield in Game 2.

“This was a great time,” Freberg said. “I feel honored to be here. I was kind of surprised when I found out I was selected to be on this team. It was fun to play with all the Gladstone girls (Division 3 state champions) and others from throughout the U.P.”

Freberg’s two-run single to left in the opening frame of the nightcap gave South a 4-0 advantage. Her RBI triple into the rightfield corner then highlighted a three-run fifth when South gained a 7-3 cushion.

“I think in the first game, we were kind of getting used to playing again,” Freberg said, noting the Cougars hadn’t played since dropping a 5-2 decision to Rapid River in the Division 4 district final on May 30. “I think we were a little more relaxed in the second game. Everybody got to know each other a little more and we got used to their pitching.”

Swajanen’s homer led off the sixth when South scored five times to take a 12-5 advantage.

Gladstone’s Sadie Strasser went 2 for 2 and Rapid River’s Savannah Stenlund also had two of South’s 11 hits, including a two-run double to left in the sixth.

Stenlund pitched the first two innings, striking out four and allowing two hits.

Gladstone’s Mikayla Depuydt took over in the third. She fanned two, walked two and gave up nine runs on nine hits.

“This was absolutely relaxing,” said Gladstone’s Ashley Hughes, who managed the South team. “It was nice to not have any stress in the dugout. The girls were so easy to get along with. They were here to have fun and play the game. Yet, they were were looking at the scoreboard. They still wanted to win. And no matter what team you coach, you want to win. Although, the outcome doesn’t matter as much as in the (post-season) tournaments.”

Negaunee’s Taylor Ring ripped an RBI double to right-center in the fifth and a two-run double to left in the sixth. Calumet’s Megan Yeo went 2-for-2. Marquette’s Amber Beaudry and Newberry’s Lillian Harmon also had two hits.

Marquette’s Senja Liimatta pitched the entire contest and absorbed the loss. She fanned six and walked two.

In the opener, Tyner reached base on a one-out infield single in the sixth, advanced to third on a single to center by Escanaba’s Jenn Koish and scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly to center by Stenlund.

Ring had tied the score on a fielder’s choice in the top of the sixth.

Stasser opened the scoring in the first on a single to right by Norway’s Rachel Conery.

Stenlund took the win in relief of Gladstone’s Tinner Sharon, who pitched the first four innings.

Sharon whiffed eight, walked one and didn’t allow any hits. Stenlund struck out one, walked one and surrendered two hits in the final two frames.

Negaunee’s Rosalie Anderson, selected the North’s MVP, went the distance. She struck out four, walked none and allowed six hits.

“I was hitting the outside corners, and I think that kept them off balance a little,” said Anderson. “Both teams hit the ball well in the second game. It was great being a part of this and getting a chance to meet a lot of new people. It was fun.”

Koish finished with two hits in first game and added a double to right in the second.