PALMER - Nicole Richer almost didn't see the ball she hit for a two-run homer in Palmer Friday night go over the left field fence.
"I try not to watch the balls I hit, but as I approached first, I looked over and (the ball) was over the fence," the Negaunee High School senior said of her second roundtripper of the season.
"The ball was pitched in a perfect spot, but I didn't think it was going to go over. It was a little surprising."
Negaunee senior Taylor Ring makes contact with the ball in the first game of a Mid-Peninsula Conference high school softball doubleheader against Manistique in Palmer on Friday afternoon. (Journal photo by Amy Treloar)
Manistique's Sydney Chartier swings during a Mid-Peninsula Conference high school softball doubleheader against Manistique in Palmer on Friday afternoon. (Journal photo by Amy Treloar)
The blast gave the Miners - who won the first game 12-4 - a 5-1 third-inning lead in the second contest en route to a 7-1 triumph and twinbill sweep.
"Nicole hit a shot and it was big for us," NHS head coach Randy Carlson said after his team improved to 6-5. "It gave us some breathing room."
Teammate Taylor Ring capped a big day at the plate with her second straight three-hit game. She belted two doubles and a triple among her six safeties in the doubleheader.
"We were solid all around," Carlson said. "We were good defensively and our bats were solid."
NHS hurler Adena Anderson got stronger as the second game went on, going five innings to pick up the win. She allowed four hits while striking out five.
"In her first at-bat (in the second game), she stung her hand and was having trouble getting some feeling back," Carlson said. "But she eventually got a good feel for the ball and settled in. She was very efficient."
Manistique (6-5-1) got two hits from Sydney Chartier - including a double - and an RBI single from Amanda Menominee, but it wasn't enough.
"We were flat," Emeralds head coach Jessica Nord said. "We were nowhere close to the energy we had (earlier in the week) vs. Rapid River.
"We didn't play well. We still make mistakes."
Ashley Menominee shouldered the loss, giving up nine hits and a walk.
"She concentrated on pitching strikes," Nord said.
In the first game, Negaunee took a 4-0 first-inning lead before Manistique tied it with three runs in the fourth and one in the fifth.
But the Miners came back with four runs in the fifth - two on a single by Jayda Johnson, who knocked in five runs that game - and four in the sixth to put the game away.
"That was a little bit of a character builder," Carlson said. "We were up 4-0 early and (Manistique) came back to tie it.
"But we were able to have a couple of big innings and take control of the game."
Hurler Rosalie Anderson allowed but five hits and three walks while fanning 10 for the Miners.
Breiann Richey took the mound loss. She was touched for 13 hits and walked three while striking out three.
Richey went 2 for 2 at the plate and Lindsay Knuth hit a two-run double for the Emeralds.
"I think Negaunee got into our heads," Nord said. "Negaunee got four runs (in that fifth inning) and our girls gave up.
"Negaunee is a good hitting team, but we watched too many good strikes go by (at the plate)."