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Norway’s Menard and Hosking; Flivvers’ Curtis participate in UP All-Star softball doubleheader

(Austin Hemmingson | Daily Press photos) Norway’s Cassidy Menard (10) slides safely into second base in front of the tag from Hancock shortstop D’Andra Kero while Houghton’s Josie Connors (7) and umpire Bob Bal of Norway look on during the first game of the U.P. Senior Showcase Friday in Escanaba.

By Austin

Hemmingson

For The Daily News

ESCANABA — It was like it was meant to be.

In a year when seniors everywhere got robbed of their opportunity to play spring sports one last time because of the coronavirus pandemic, 26 softball players from across the U.P. showed up for a Senior Showcase doubleheader Friday night in Escanaba. The weather was fantastic, the quality of softball was great, and the camaraderie between the players was on display all throughout the night.

KINGSFORD'S EMILY CURTIS

“It was awesome,” said Escanaba coach Gary Salo, who coached the “South Team” on this night. “The girls showed up, they all had their masks on, they all got screened. … We’ve got the rules and everything that we’re following.

“You can’t ask for a better night of weather and a better night of just getting on the field.”

Things were pretty much status quo in the opener as Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year Gabi Salo struck out 16 in a one-hitter one last time in an Eskymo uniform, leading the South Team to a 3-0 victory over the North Team.

Rapid River’s Kristin Goodacre spoiled the perfect game with a one-out single to right field in the seventh.

“I thought it was a pretty good performance,” Salo said. “Our defense played really good and we had really good bunt coverage. The one hit at the end was a good hit — I give her credit for it.”

The South Team didn’t get on the board off Negaunee pitcher Skylar Hall until the top of the fourth inning when Marquette’s Sofia VandenEnde launched a solo home run to left.

The South Team then added two more in the fifth when Marquette’s Maiya King singled and Escanaba’s Maddy Block escaped a pickle between third and home to make it 2-0.

Norway’s Cassidy Menard then laid down an RBI bunt single to drive in King and make it a 3-0 game. Menard had a 3 RBI night for the South. Kaitlyn Hosking also had an RBI for the South squad on the evening.

After the win, Salo talked about just being back on her home field.

“It’s really nice, especially to be back with some of your teammates and the rest of the seniors in the U.P.,” she said. “To be on our home field is really special.”

The nightcap of the doubleheader saw much more offense, especially from the South Team as it rolled to a 19-4 win to complete the sweep.

The South Team scored twice in the first and four times in the third before Marquette’s Maddie Carter became the second Redette to homer with a with a deep three-run shot to center to make it 10-1. The South Team then tacked on four more runs in the fifth, three in the sixth and three in the seventh.

Marquette’s Amanda McIntire picked up the win, while Kingsford’s Emily Curtis took the loss. Both teams used multiple pitchers.

“I’ve done this a couple times and it’s always a fun time,” said Negaunee coach Randy Carlson, who coached the North Team. “It’s the last hurrah for a lot of these girls. Some of them are going to be playing at the next level, but for some of them this may be the last fastpitch game they’ll play. Like most other years, they start out kind of keeping to themselves and sitting by their own teammates and being shy, but as it goes on they start mixing up. That’s the biggest thing — making friends and meeting some new kids, and hopefully they’ll be friends for life.”

Players on each team got to play multiple positions as it was far from conventional softball.

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