MARQUETTE - Mother Nature must be a fan of high-scoring ball games.
She made the sun as scarce as the offense by the end of Game 1 of the inaugural Upper Peninsula All-Star Softball games, then opened up the skies with thunder, lightning and a torrential downpour shortly after the nightcap got under way.
None of the recently graduated high school seniors reached home plate in the 6 1/2 innings played Wednesday evening - the scheduled six innings of the first game and another half inning of Game 2. By the time the rain began to let up, considerable areas of the infield had standing water, neccesitating the end of play.
Steve Brownlee | Marquette Mining Journal
Second baseman Codi Jenshak of Escanaba makes an underhand toss to first base to get the final out of the fifth inning during the inaugural Upper Peninsula All-Star Softball game played at Hurley Field in Marquette, Wednesday evening. Jenshak’s South squad battled the North to a scoreless tie in the opening game of the scheduled doubleheader before the nightcap was called after a half inning due to thunderstorms.
The day began in the late afternoon with a home run derby won by Sault Ste. Marie's Megan Jean. Like six other participants, she hit one homer over the fence from second base on six tries in the first round.
The others homering were North teammates Morgan Seibert of Marquette and Marissa Gonyeau of Sault Ste. Marie, along with the South's Emily Bogaudo and Braedyn Bosilovatz of Escanaba, Neena Brockway of Rapid River and Dominique Tremblay of Rudyard.
But Jean was the only batter to homer again in the subsequent "swing-off."
Once the game began, each team recorded a hit in the first inning before the runner was stranded in scoring position.
Bogaudo doubled with one out in the top of the inning for the South, while Courtney LaFreniere hit a leadoff single, then stole second and moved to third on a throwing error for the North in the bottom of the inning.
But it was a credit to the pitchers and the defenses backing them up that just one more runner the rest of the day reached second base, as no more errors were committed, no walks were issued, nor were there any wild pitches, passed balls or hit batters.
"I enjoyed it and I know the girls did, too," said one of the South's coaches, Martha Verbrigghe of Superior Central. "They're all the same age, so a lot of them have played against each other and some with each other for a long time."
Two pitchers earned MVP honors, Jean for the North and Brockway for the South. Jean pitched the final three innings in relief, allowing two singles while striking out four. Brockway went the first four innings for the South, also allowing two hits and chalking up four K's.
"I wanted to have fun, but I also wanted to do well," Brockway said. "This was a good way to extend the softball season, plus it prepared me to play tougher competition like I'll see downstate in college."
She plans to attend and play softball at Lansing Community College beginning this fall.
The other two pitchers, both from area schools, were just as impressive. Seibert started and went three innings for the North, allowing just one hit and fanning four, while SC's Lindsey Richmond went the final two innings for the South and gave up one hit though she didn't get any strikeouts.
"I was a little surprised it was this low scoring, because I thought the pitchers would be kind of rusty," said Marquette and North coach Paul Seibert, Morgan Seibert's father. "But they all pitched well and nobody got anything cheap."
Each team went down 1-2-3 three times. MSHS' Angela Brown doubled for the North with two out in the second but was left stranded, as did the other three players who singled - the North's Danielle McCullough of Ironwood in the fifth, the South's Jordan Kowalski of Gladstone in the fifth and the South's Bailey Grayvold of Norway in the sixth.
Just for good measure, Brockway sent the only three batters of Game 2 down in order before the skies opened up.