Champs stop Knights

NORWAY – Defending state semifinalist Rapid River ended Norway’s 21-game win streak and its hopes of a first district title Friday at Marion Park.

Ending the Knights season in a semifinal 7-1, Rapid River then crushed Ironwood 10-0 in a four-inning final to capture the Division 4 District 97 title and earn a return trip to regional play.

“Rapid is a good team,” Norway coach Scott Conery said. “I thought they way we’ve been playing, we would have had a real good chance of upsetting them today.”

Instead, the Knights couldn’t get the offense going against Neena Brockway, who went the distance for Rapid River, striking out 10.

“We haven’t seen a lot of pictures like her,” Conery said. “She moves the ball well. We just didn’t have a lot of good at-bats against her. She’s an exceptional pitcher.”

Norway managed five hits in the game, getting a run on a sacrifice fly by Lindsey Debernardi in the fourth. Brandi Strong, Bailey Grayvold, Jacey Bal, Ashley Zanon and Bobbi Hulce all had singles in the game.

Zanon took the loss for Norway. She allowed five hits while walking just one. Only one run was earned.

“We had a few defensive miscues,” Conery said. “I’m not going to say it cost us the game, but we just didn’t play our best. But I’m proud of the girls. They played hard the whole way through.”

Despite the disappointing end, Norway produced the best season in the short history of the program, capturing a conference crown and finishing with a 26-7 record.

“I’m so proud of them,” Conery said. “They did fantastic this year, made a lot of strides. It’s exciting to see the program progress like it has.”

And the Knights should be able pick up right where they left off next season, with all but one starter (Grayvold) returning.

“I’m really optimistic for next year,” Conery said.

Hannah Kanyuh had a two-run double for Rapid in the first against Norway. The Rockets added four more in the second, getting a single from Brockway in the frame. Savannah Stenlund singled and scored in the Rockets’ fifth.

Rapid’s offense hit overdrive in the final against Ironwood, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Brockway cleared the fence with a three-run shot in the frame. And Lydia Froberg ended it in the bottom of the fourth with her first varsity homer, a lead-off shot over the wall in right center.

Rapid River manager George Kanyuh said his team started getting into the tournament mindset about three weeks ago.

“I was trying to get us to peak at the right time,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better culmination. It was hitting. It was pitching. It was base running. They brought the total package to this tournament.

“We went 3-0, and that’s a tribute how hard these girls work.”

Brockway also pitched for the win in the final, holding Ironwood to four hits while fanning six and walking just one.

The Rockets move on to regional play at Sault Ste. Marie next weekend against the winner of the Newberry district title.

“We’ve got experience,” Kanyuh said. “We know its just gets tougher. Things accelerate from here in a big way. We need this effort again if we think we are going to go any further.”

Ironwood made it to Friday’s final following a thrilling 3-2 win over Ishpeming.

Kassi Huotari went the distance for Ironwood, whiffing six and walking one. She also pitched in the final against Rapid River.

District semifinal

Ishpeming 000 001 1 – 2

Ironwood 011 000 1 – 3

District semifinal

Norway 000 010 0 – 1

Rapid River 240 010 X – 7

District final

Ironwood 000 0 – 0

Rapid River 513 1 – 10