Superior Telegram 2010 All-Area Softball Team
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
It was a season of opposites for local softball teams. Northwood and Northwestern, teams filled with veteran players, were hoping to make a push into the sectional playoffs this year. Superior and Solon Springs, both very young squads, were more concerned with improving game to game and building for the future.
With the season now over, the four schools look back fondly on the careers of the departing seniors while at the same time looking forward to the return of key underclassmen next year.
Joining Katie Sohn on this year’s All-Area team are five seniors, three juniors and two sophomores. Team members are listed below in alphabetical order.
Also nominated were freshman Tiana Arseneau of Northwestern, senior Aileen Bowker and sophomore Vanessa Zeman of Solon Springs, junior Cassy O’Neill of Superior, and junior Ashley Block of Northwood.
In 135 putouts and four assists at first base, Annie Block committed just one error for the Northwood Evergreens this season. Her .993 feilding percentage gave the Evergreens consistency at first base, but Block also produced offensively.
For most of the season, Annie Block and her cousin, Ashley Block, competed in a two-person batter’s duel. The two juniors ended the season with identical .391 batting averages in Central Lakeland Conference play, but Annie Block pulled ahead in the overall battle with a .462 average.
“Annie had a great year with great stats,” said Beth Block, Northwood softball coach. “She played great at first base.”
Annie Block had a .610 on-base percentage for Northwood. She hit seven doubles, one triple and one home run while contributing 14 RBIs.
Block was named to the Central Lakeland Conference All-Conference team this season.
Lisa Featherly has cemented herself as a player to watch for the Northwood Evergreens. Already, the sophomore has moved to the top not only of her team but of the whole conference with her stats on offense.
Featherly claimed the top batting average in conference play of all softball players in the Central Lakeland Conference this year, hitting .579. The sophomore had a .451 batting average overall and had a team-high 29 RBIs, along with seven doubles and a triple. Featherly also drew 13 walks to give her a .605 on-base percentage.
“Lisa had a fabulous year,” coach Block said. “She is a solid player.”
On defense, Featherly had a .968 fielding percentage as the team’s catcher. She threw out 10-of-19 runners attempting to steal and also picked off a runner too far off base.
Featherly was a member of this year’s Central Lakeland Conference All-Conference team.
Tressa Harings was the Evergreens’ ace this season, finishing with a 7-0 record in the Central Lakeland Conference and a 16-4 record overall. The senior pitcher took on a heavy workload for Northwood this season, pitching almost every game for the Evergreens.
“Tressa struggled at the plate as the season went on but had a great pitching year,” Block said.
Harings struck out 104 batters in her final year with the Evergreens and had a 3.60 ERA overall. Her ERA in conference play was a scant 1.71.
On offense, Harings’ numbers dipped slightly from her junior season, but she still came up with clutch hits for her team. In Northwood’s regional playoff game with Butternut, Harings went 3-for-3 at the plate to help the Evergreens to a 4-1 victory. The senior batted .269 overall with four doubles and 16 RBIs.
Harings was selected as a member of this year’s Central Lakeland Conference All-Conference team.
Kelcee Janigo has played softball for the Northwestern Tigers for three years now, but she only has two years of experience in her current position.
“Kelcee took over as catcher in her sophomore year by default,” said Scott Janigo, Northwestern softball coach. “She has excelled in the position since.
“As a junior she provided leadership and stability behind the plate for our pitchers and has become one of the better leadoff batters in the conference.”
Kelcee Janigo batted .394 for the season with six doubles, four triples, one home run and 11 RBIs. She finished the year with an on-base percentage of .416 and a slugging percentage of .652. Janigo also had 26 hits for the Tigers and scored 24 runs.
She received Northwestern’s Most Valuable Offensive Player team award and was named to the Heart O’ North Conference All-Conference second team as a catcher this season.
“Her enthusiasm and love for the game is contagious with the other players,” Janigo said. “We look forward to great things in her senior year.”
With the Superior softball team facing low player turnout and relative inexperience, the Spartans needed a strong leader this season. Alayna Moe, one of two seniors on a team comprised mostly of sophomores and freshmen, stepped in to fill the role.
“Alayna was a team captain the past two seasons; she had the leadership skills necessary to keep a team together,” said Amy Zembo, Superior softball head coach.
Moe, a second team selection for the Lake Superior Conference All-Conference team, was named the Spartans’ Most Valuable Player this season. She took on any role requested of her defensively and led Superior on offense.
“She moved over to shortstop this season and did a great job,” Zembo said. “Alayna was deservingly voted MVP this season. She led the team in runs, on-base and slug percentage, and was second in RBIs and batting average.”
For the season, Moe had 21 hits and a .328 batting average. She scored 13 runs for the Spartans and had an on-base percentage of .467.
Anna Morgan has been named to the HON All-Conference first team as a shortstop for three of the four years she has attended Northwestern High School. The one year she didn’t make the team — her sophomore year — Morgan was sidelined for the entire season with a torn meniscus.
“Anna won’t be easy to replace,” Janigo said. “She has the athletic ability to make good teams great.”
Morgan was named the Tigers’ MVP this year after being honored for her defense as a freshman and junior. The senior continued to excel on defense this season and also led Northwestern in a few offensive categories.
Morgan had 27 hits and a .391 batting average in her senior season. She scored 17 runs and had 17 RBIs, with 13 doubles and a triple. Morgan also had a .609 slugging percentage, .455 on-base percentage and 10 stolen bases.
“Anna also captained our team this year,” Janigo said. “She helped guide our team to the regional championship game for the second year in a row. She is a great leader and teammate.”
Though only a sophomore, Juliana Polson distinguished herself on the Spartan softball team this year. She was named Superior’s Offensive Player of the Year, leading the team at the plate.
“Juliana was our leadoff and team leading hitter,” Zembo said. “She’s one of the most coachable kids I’ve had the opportunity to work with. She comes to practice every day in the right frame of mind, working very hard to improve her skills.”
Polson played second base for the Spartans and finished the season with 26 hits and a .342 batting average. She scored 10 runs on the year and had a .407 on-base percentage.
In her junior season, even more will be expected of Polson. Next season’s squad is also expected to be a young one, and Polson will be one of the more experienced players returning.
“Although she is only a sophomore she demonstrates outstanding leadership skills on and off the field,” Zembo said.
The Northwestern Tigers will be looking for a new athlete to cover first base next season. Taylor Prior has anchored the position for the past three years, but now the senior is moving on.
“Taylor played a huge role in our season as she captained our team, batted second and played flawlessly at first base,” Janigo said.
Prior was named the Tigers’ Defensive Player of the Year and also won the team’s Golden Glove award for the second straight year.
She had 24 hits in 81 at bats this season, scoring 19 runs with 18 RBIs. Prior had an on base percentage of .337 and stole nine bases.
She was named to the HON All-Conference first team.
“She was a team leader who made clutch plays both on offense and defense,” Janigo said. “She is a very dedicated player who loves the game.”
In a sea of young players and new faces, Alex Sickler stood out on the 2010 Solon Springs softball team. The senior was a unifying force for the developing Eagles.
“She has the best attitude and was always positive,” said Dale Rajala, head coach of the Eagles. “She led by example and showed our younger players a lot of positive qualities in the way she played the game.”
Sickler was the team’s best all-around athlete, Rajala said. She took on any role requested of her defensively and led Solon Springs on offense.
“She had our biggest bat and was willing to play out of position whenever called upon this year, going from catcher to playing short stop, even though she never played there before,” Rajala said.
Despite the shift on defense, Sickler remained steady on offense. For the season, she batted .489 with three doubles and one home run. The senior also added 14 RBIs.
Liz Urbaniak split her time between pitching and third base this season, but there is a good chance the junior will focus mostly on pitching next year.
“Liz is an outstanding pitcher,” Janigo said. “She really came on strong near the end of the season.”
With Urbaniak pitching, the Tigers went 8-2 in their last 10 games. She struck out 75 batters in 90 innings pitched to finish with an ERA of 3.25 for the season.
She was named second team HON All-Conference as a pitcher and was also awarded the Most Valuable Defensive Player title by her own team.
On offense, Urbaniak batted .313 with a .400 slugging percentage and .329 on-base percentage. She had three doubles and two triples while scoring nine runs and driving in 10 more.