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7 local players to play in U.P. all-star softball games on Friday

Negaunee’s Skylar Hall winds up to pitch against Gladstone during the championship game of the MHSAA Division 3 regional softball tournament held at Negaunee on June 8, 2019. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

ESCANABA — A select few recently graduated high school softball players will get a chance to play a pair of games on Friday.

After the coronavirus pandemic wiped out spring sports in the past five months, Escanaba High School softball coach Gary Salo took the idea of an Upper Peninsula all-star game and has brought it to fruition.

Players, all of whom were seniors during this past spring, will come from 13 schools around the U.P. and play in a doubleheader with games at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday at Lemerand Park in Escanaba.

“When the season got canceled, I just started texting some other U.P. coaches to see if we could put this together and give the seniors some closure,” Salo said in a phone interview with the Escanaba Daily Press on Tuesday. “They pretty much all agreed to it and the feedback has been great. We have players from 13 schools from across the U.P. coming to Escanaba for a fun day of softball.”

Among the 28 or possibly more players are seven from Marquette County — four from Marquette Senior High School, two from Negaunee and one from Ishpeming, according to Hematites coach Ben McGuire and Miners coach Randy Carlson.

Negaunee's Skylar Hall looks for a sign from her catcher as teammate Hannah Voskuhl looks on from behind in the Miners' semifinal game against Westwood in the MHSAA Division 3 district softball tournament held at the Tilden Township Field in National Mine on June 1, 2019. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Those players are Sofia van den Ende, Maiya King, Amanda McIntire and Madison Carter of Marquette; Skylar Hall and Shaylee Menhennick of Negaunee; and Berkli Asgaard of Ishpeming. In addition, Carlson will coach one of the teams.

Eleven more are from Delta County. Gabi Salo, Dakota Cloutier, Maddy Block and Rylee Kuehl will represent two-time defending state champion Escanaba; Taelor Zeise, Andie Balenger and Jenna Tardiff come from Gladstone; Riley Arndt, Hailey Boucher and Bonnie Cortinas represent Bark River; and Kristin Goodacre is from Rapid River.

Other schools with players attending include Kingsford, Norway, Menominee, Sault Ste. Marie, Hancock and Houghton, though names weren’t immediately available from those programs. Gary Salo will coach one team with Carlson heading up the other.

Gary Salo also noted all CDC guidelines and safety measures will be in place.

“We’re going to make sure the girls are safe,” he said. “They’re going to be temperature screened when they get there, we’ll go through their normal questionnaires and we’re going to provide hand sanitizer.

Marquette’s Sofia van den Ende waits to swing at a pitch from Menominee on May 24, 2019, in Marquette. (Journal file photo)

“I’ve traveled enough this summer with softball where I’ve picked up a lot of the different ideas that tournaments have done … the home team has their own game balls and the visiting team has their own game balls. You eliminate the high-fives and the hugs and the different things like that, but we’re still going to have a lot of smiles on the kids’ faces.”

Between games, local band Sit Down Francis will play. Coach Salo said the idea dates back to something his team wanted to do last spring.

“At the start of the year, I was talking with the girls and we wanted to show other schools how much fun we have and why we work so hard,” he said. “We thought it would be a cool idea to have a little concert between our games. They’re probably going to play for a little while in between our doubleheader, and they might even play a song between innings.”

McGuire also mentioned that a food truck or other type of food concession will be available.

On Saturday, Esky will host its first-ever alumni game at noon with the varsity Eskymos taking on an alumni team.

Marquette’s Amanda McIntire winds up for a pitch against the Eskymos on May 23, 2019, at Escanaba. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Justin St. Ours)

Some information for this story compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

Marquette's Maiya King hits an infield popup during the Redettes' high school softball doubleheader against Bark River-Harris on May 21, 2019, at Lions Field in Marquette Township. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

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