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 innings played at Hurley Field on 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, necessitating the end of play.
Courtney LaFreniere of Marquette fouls off a pitch during the inaugural Upper Peninsula All-Star Softball Game played at Hurley Field in Marquette on Wednesday evening. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)
Below, Megan McLaren of Munising swings at a pitch during the inaugural all-star game. LaFreniere and McLaren's North squad battled the South to a scoreless tie in the first game of a scheduled doubleheader. The second game was called after a half inning due to thunderstorms. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)
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."
U.P. All-Star Game
At Hurley Field, Marquette
North 0, South 0
R H E
South 000 000 - 0 3 1
North 000 000 - 0 3 0
South pitchers: Neena Brockway (Rapid River), 4 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 6 K, 0 BB; Lindsey Richmond (Superior Central), 2 IP, 1 H, 0 K, 0 BB
North pitchers: Morgan Seibert (Marquette), 3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 4 K, 0 BB; Megan Jean (Sault Ste. Marie), 3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 4 K, 0 BB
South: Emily Bagaudo (Escanaba), 2B; Jordan Kowalski (Gladstone), 1B; Bailey Grayvold (Norway), 1B
North: Courtney LaFreniere (Marquette), 1B, SB; Angela Brown, 2B; Danielle McCullough (Ironwood), 1B
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 Marquette's 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 Ks.
"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 in order 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.
Just for good measure, Brockway sent the only three batters of Game 2 down in order before the skies opened up.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.