Knights spoil IM’s home debut

IRON MOUNTAIN – The first home softball games in Iron Mountain High School history went to Norway in a big way Monday.

The established Knights handled the fledgling Mountaineers 17-1 in four innings and 14-4 in five innings at Northside Field.

“We were in the same boat a couple years ago,” said Norway Coach Scott Conery, referring to building a program. “The big thing is they’re out there playing.

“It’s a work in progress. But they’re not too bad.”

In the Mid-Peninsula Conference opener, Norway struck for nine runs in the first inning. Rachel Conery doubled twice in the first frame.

Conery and pitcher Harlie Caster each laced three hits. Caster also tagged a double. Lindsey Debernardi added two more of Norway’s 14 hits.

On the mound, Caster scattered five hits, fanned one and walked none.

For Mountaineer softball historians, Brooke Fornetti singled in the second inning for the program’s first hit at Northside Field and Paige Fortner plated the initial run in the third inning after ripping a double to the fence.

Iron Mountain centerfielder Emily Oberthaler also turned in a web gem, shagging down a line drive and starting a double play.

Britta Grayvold slammed a three-run homer in the first inning to ignite Norway in the second game. Sydney Smaniotti tripled and singled twice in the Knights’ nine-hit attack.

Knights pitchers Ashley Zanon and Barbi Slagle combined to allow one hit – a double by Allison Duff.

The second game gave Norway an opportunity to play the reserves.

“They played really good ball,” Conery said. “I was impressed with them.”

Iron Mountain returns to Northside Field today against Westwood.

Norway (2-2 overall, 2-0 Mid-Peninsula Conference) faces the Escanaba junior varsity today at Marion Park.

The Knights return 10 returning players from last season – including seven starters and three all-conference players. Jacey Bal, Conery and Bobbi Hulce all made the all-district team. Hulce was the Mid-Peninsula Player of the Year.

“Bobbi is a really big part of our success and leads by example,” Conery said. “Conery is our senior leader and we will need that to get to where we want to be. Pitchers Ashley Zanon and Harlie Caster will again lead us on the mound after having great seasons last year.”

Norway was 24-7 last season, champions of the Mid-Peninsula Conference.

“That will be hard to match especially with a tougher schedule this season,” Conery said. “Our goals are still the same while trying to repeat as conference champs to also make a run at a district championship.

“I am really proud of these girls and if they continue to improve I really like our chances come tournament time.”

Conery thinks conference teams to beat include Negaunee, Manistique.

“In the district, it looks like Ironwood and Ishpeming,” he said. “Going from two wins our first season to a conference title in three short seasons has really been a thrilling experience.”