Out of Wishigan League ashes emerges Superiorland Baseball League this summer

Tri-City Northstar’s Craig Storm, right, attempts to tag out Tyler Marquardt, middle, of Peshtigo, Wis., at third base during the second game of a Wishigan League doubleheader on July 31. Also pictured is Zac Sorelle, left. Storm and Sorelle are two of the former Northstars helping make the new Superiorland Baseball League a reality this summer. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — The Superiorland Baseball League will open its inaugural season on Monday night with six teams playing at three sites in Marquette and Dickinson counties.

This adult-age hardball league was organized by a number of players, coaches and umpires from the now-defunct Wishigan League with the intention of having much less travel than the previous incarnation that required Upper Peninsula teams to make trips for a number of road games into Wisconsin.

James Larsen II said that was a major impediment in recruiting players when he was player-manager of the Tri-City Northstars based out of Negaunee.

“It’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm and support of the local baseball community,” Larsen said. “This is truly a league born out of this community and for this community.

“The last several years many on (my) team have noticed an appetite for more of a local league that would break down some of the barriers of entry, so more guys could continue to play the game they love.

“When the Wishigan League dissolved … (our) team decided to turn a negative into a positive. The support has been incredible, as dozens of people have participated in the formation of this league.”

The Channing Railroaders team from just over the border into Dickinson County remains nearly intact from its Wishigan counterpart, while five players from the Northstars each took on the task of organizing a team for the league.

They are Larsen, Zac Sorelle, Eli Wolf, Paul Storm and Jason Siik, who is also the varsity baseball coach at Negaunee High School.

“We’re very proud to continue the tradition of local men’s hardball in the area,” Sorelle said.

The Marquette County-based teams will be the Marquette County Mavericks, 906 Sports Bar & Grill, Congress Pizza, Coldwell Banker-Craig Heinonen and the Negaunee Blasters.

The fields being used are the Forsyth Township Ball Park just across M-35 from Gwinn High School in Gwinn, the Negaunee Irontown Field where the Miners’ high school team plays at the eastern terminus of Prince Street in Negaunee, and the Channing field.

To keep the schedule the simplest in its first year, regular-season games will be played every Monday evening from next week through Aug. 14, except on July 3, the day before Independence Day.

Game times are 6:30 p.m. in Gwinn and Negaunee and 7 p.m. EDT in Channing, and rained-out games will not be rescheduled.

On Monday, Sorelle’s 906 Sports Bar & Grill will play Storm’s Coldwell Banker-Craig Heinonen in Gwinn, Siik’s Negaunee Blasters faces Wolf’s Congress Pizza in Negaunee and Larsen’s Mavericks play at Channing.

A league tournament is set for Aug. 16-20 at one or more of these sites.

Larsen and other Superiorland coaches are pleased to continue a baseball tradition in and around Marquette County that began when Dave Speaker Sr. founded the Northstars a decade ago.

“If it wasn’t for Dave’s dedication and selflessness in starting the Northstars and keeping it going those first few years, I don’t see how any of us would have had the opportunity to continue playing baseball locally,” Larsen said. “It’s also hard to fathom being in a position for this league to now take shape if Dave didn’t step up to the plate with his efforts.”

For more information about the league, including joining a team, call Zac Sorelle at 458-5579, or visit the online Facebrook group Superiorland Baseball.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.