A winning sendoff

Wildcats clinch Big North title on Senior Day

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena second baseman Abbie Funk, right, waits to field a throw from third base as Petoskey baserunner Aurora Sears slides in an attempt to get back to base during a softball game on Tuesday at Alpena High School.

The Alpena High softball team gave its seniors a fitting send-off.

The Wildcats swept Petoskey 4-0 and 13-0 (five innings) on Tuesday at home, clinching the Big North Conference title for the ninth consecutive season on Senior Day.

The doubleheader sweep gave the Wildcats a perfect 10-0 record in conference play. With the Alpena baseball team clinching a conference title on Tuesday as well, Alpena holds both titles for the first time since 2015.

Alpena has won some conference games easily and rallied to win others this season. On Tuesday, the Wildcats made things look easy again, holding Petoskey scoreless while taking care of business offensively and defensively.

In between games, Alpena honored its six seniors–Emma Fraser, Lilly Lewis, Riley Alexander, Kali Spomer, Dayna LaBell and Rachel McDonald and every Alpena player got to bat in the doubleheader.

“I’m happy for our seniors. It’s our last home game and we reached one of our goals–to win the conference and be undefeated in the conference,” Alpena coach Paul Marwede said. “I’m happy to say we were able to retain the title. We were challenged all year and I’m glad we were able to defend the title.”

The Wildcats held Petoskey to five hits in the opener and took advantage three early Petoskey errors to plate three runs in the first two innings.

Allie DeRocher scored Alpena’s first run at a pinch runner in the bottom of the first inning thanks in part to two errors and Jade Schultz later came in to score on a sac fly after reaching base on an error.

DeRocher scored again in the bottom of the second inning as a pinch runner after Aubree Sheldon reached base on an error. DeRocher scored on an RBI double from Schultz.

Petoskey’s biggest threat to score came in the fourth inning. The Northmen got a pair of runners aboard with one out on a pair of bloop singles. Fraser escaped the jam on the mound however, striking out two batters to end the threat.

The Northmen stranded a runner in scoring position in each of the last two innings.

Alpena added a run in the fourth inning when Fraser singled home Sheldon.

Fraser earned the win for Alpena, scattering five hits, striking out nine and walking one. At the plate, she was 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Schultz had an RBI double; Nikita Cordes added a double and Sydney Chojnacki and Abbie Funk each singled.

Schultz and Lewis combined to limit the Northmen to just five hits in the nightcap. Petoskey stranded a pair of baserunners in both the third and fourth innings.

Alpena’s offense caught fire early, scoring three runs in the first inning and building momentum from there. The Wildcats added three runs in the second inning, two in the third inning and five more in the fourth inning.

In the first inning, Schultz and Alexander each had an RBI double. In the second inning, Alpena built a 6-0 lead after Allie Funk had a bases-clearing double.

Abbie Funk and Fraser each had an RBI single in the third inning and both of them came through with RBI hits in the fourth inning, including a two-run double from Fraser.

Fraser and Abbie Funk both finished the game with three hits and two RBI; Alexander had two hits and two RBI and Allie Funk had a hit and three RBI.

Alpena plays at Sanford-Meridian on Wednesday and in a tournament at Bay City Central on Saturday.