Two Upper Peninsula players join ACC softball program
ALPENA — When she was nine years old, Alaina Saari decided she was going to play college softball.
That dream recently came true for Saari after she signed with Alpena Community College, making her longtime dream a reality.
“It feels really good. It feels like a dream come true because I’ve dreamt of playing college softball and finding the right college and achieving my goals since I was a very little girl,” Saari, a recent Marquette High graduate said. “I’m really proud of how far I’ve come.”
Saari was one of two Upper Peninsula players to sign recently with the Lumberjacks as Rock-Mid Peninsula graduate Shaelyn Lampinen signed with ACC as well.
Like Saari, Lampinen has been itching to play college softball and was relieved to join ACC coach Christin Sobeck and her program.
“It’s a sigh of relief. I’ve been working really hard to get (signed), so knowing that I signed with a college that wants me is really, really relieving and it’s awesome,” Lampinen said.
ACC has been a draw for many Upper Peninsula players in the past and Sobeck will get two players who are eager to contribute. Both of them were scheduled to play on a Sobeck-coached team in Barcelona, Spain last summer representing Team USA in a national softball tournament before it was canceled.
Lampinen has also played for a travel ball team coached by Saari’s father Adam.
Saari, who plans to study criminal justice, played pitcher and shortstop for Marquette. While she anticipates a higher level of competition in college, she said she’s looking forward to bonding with her new teammates while playing a game she loves.
“I think one thing will be the bond I have with a lot of the girls and creating new bonds,” Saari said. “I really do think it’s the bond with a lot of girls. It’s just a fun time to get together and it’s just a fun sport to play.”
Lampinen, a catcher for Eben Junction Superior Central, grew up playing baseball and switched over to softball when she was 13. She plans to pursue studies in photojournalism. She’s used to hard work, having driven to practice every day from Mid-Peninsula High to Superior Central High for practice and games, and she’s looking forward to the challenge of playing at the college level.
“The biggest transition I think is going to be the workout routine,” Lampinen said. “I haven’t had a full workout routine during the summer because I play other sports, so transitioning from other sports to working out is going to be a change for me.”