Three players overcome injuries to make Telegram All-Area team
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
This year, 10 girls make up the Superior Telegram All-Area Softball Team — six seniors, three juniors and one sophomore. For a number of players, just being back on the field to start the season was an accomplishment.
Three of this year’s all-area team members, including Player of the Year Lindsay Garay, returned to the field after battling through knee injuries in the last year.
Joining Garay on this year’s team are the following players, listed in alphabetical order.
As the Spartans’ leading pitcher this season, senior Aleeah Baker had her work cut out for her. She began the spring with limited varsity experience, having backed up last year’s Telegram Player of the Year, Amanda LeBard.
“Aleeah was our workhorse on the mound this season,” SHS coach Amy Zembo said. “She pitched well enough to keep us in many games.”
Baker finished the year with 124 strikeouts and a 3.81 ERA. But that wasn’t the senior’s only contribution to the team this year.
“She was also an offensive leader in several hitting categories,” Zembo said.
At the plate Baker had a .364 batting average and a .403 on base percentage.
She also collected 25 hits and 12 RBIs with a .456 slugging percentage.
When Britnee Blake tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at the start of the basketball season, she had one goal in mind — be back on the field and ready to play for softball.
“Britnee is such a great athlete; to recover from an ACL injury in four months is almost unheard of,” Zembo said. “Because of her determination and love for sports, she was 100 percent dedicated to her rehabilitation.”
Blake, a senior team captain, earned numerous accolades at shortstop for the Spartans this year. She was named to the Lake Superior Conference all-conference first team, was All-District honorable mention, played on the Duluth/Iron Range All-Star team and was named the Female Athlete of the Year at Superior High School as well as the co-MVP for the Spartans.
For the year, Blake had a .276 batting average, .325 on base percentage and a .395 slugging percentage. She scored 10 runs and had 21 hits while playing an important role defensively.
“Britnee has been a solid threat both offensively and defensively in her four-year career,” Zembo said. “She is a very coachable athlete and was an excellent team leader.”
Like many players on the Northwood Evergreens team this year, senior Ashlee Blegen was known for her consistency and hustle.
The catcher had a .333 batting average and .522 on base percentage. Blegen had three triples and 14 RBIs for the year. She also made use of her speed, with eight stolen bases and one in-the-park home run.
Defensively, Blegen made only one error, finishing the year with a .990 fielding percentage. She had 89 put-outs and eight assists for the Evergreens.
Blegen was named a member of this year’s Central Lakeland Conference All-Conference Team.
Annie Block has a sharp eye at the plate. The sophomore struck out only twice all season while drawing 12 walks. For the year, she had a .600 on base percentage.
Block had a .364 batting average with two doubles and one triple. She also had 11 RBIs and seven stolen bases.
Playing first base, Block was also steady.
She had 112 putouts, one assist, and three errors for a .974 fielding percentage.
Block was named to the Central Lakeland Conference All-Conference Team for 2009.
Emily Eisenmann was a team captain for the Spartans this year and has been a common sight on the softball field since she was a freshman.
“Emily has been a great asset to our program the past four seasons,” Zembo said. “She has been an offensive threat each of her four seasons of play.”
Splitting time at second base, third base and catcher, Eisenmann batted .364 with a .455 slugging percentage and a .467 on base percentage. She finished her senior year with 24 hits.
“Emily is a great example of what it means to be a student-athlete, as she excels in the classroom and on the field,” Zembo said.
The senior was named to the LSC All-Conference first team this year and was also first team on the 2009 All-District squad. Eisenmann was a member of Duluth/Iron Range All-Star team and the co-MVP for the Spartans.
Salann Gilbert has become a fixture in her four years playing varsity sports in Solon Springs.
“She’s going to be sorely missed,” Eagles head coach Dale Rajala said. “Right from a freshman, she’s been dominating in every sport at Solon Springs High School. It’s going to be a whole lot different without her around here.”
Gilbert averaged 8.2 strikeouts per game as a pitcher and also batted .313 for the year. She was named to the Indianhead Conference All-Conference first team.
“She was our leader, and her pitching kept us in every game and allowed us to compete all year long,” Rajala said.
Rachel Hanley, a junior shortstop, plays volleyball, basketball and softball for the Eagles. Always competitive, Coach Rajala, said Hanley was also by far the most athletic player on the field for Solon Springs.
Hanley batted .406 in the conference this year and stole 13 bases in league play.
Rajala said she also played solidly at shortstop, making many great plays for Solon Springs.
“She’s a great competitor,” Rajala said. “Hopefully next year she’ll step up big for us.”
Hanley was named to the Indianhead Conference All-Conference first team.
As a pitcher this year, junior Tressa Harings had a 9-1 record. She struck out 67 in 62.2 innings pitched with an ERA of 2.35. Of the 249 batters she faced, Harings only walked 17.
Harings also spent time at second base for the Evergreens, where she had a .989 fielding percentage with five put-outs, 82 assists and only one error.
On offense, the junior got on base more than half of the time, with a .509 on base percentage. She also had 12 RBIs as she batted .362 and stole four bases. Harings was named Central Lakeland Conference All-Conference.
Last season, Anna Morgan had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in her knee and had to sit out the softball season. The junior was back at shortstop this year, and head coach Scott Janigo couldn’t have been happier.
“She has the speed to play a great shortstop and steal bases,” Janigo said. “She makes big plays on offense and defense.”
Janigo said Morgan was the team’s junior leader both on and off the field for the Tigers this year. In 24 games, Morgan had 26 hits, scored 18 runs and stole 12 bases. She batted .388 with 15 RBIs and had a .405 on base percentage.
Besides Morgan’s raw skill, Janigo said the junior has a great appreciation for the game.
“She has fun when she plays and has a great sense of humor,” Janigo said.
Morgan was named to the Heart O’ North All-Conference first team this year.