ESCANABA - A pair of Delta County girls will face a major challenge when they embark on their collegiate careers in softball next year.
Hailey McDermott of Bark River-Harris and Heather Sanderson of Rapid River signed national letters of intent recently to play at Wisconsin-Green Bay. Both are pitchers who have performed well at various levels and would appear ready for the challenge.
However, the Phoenix also signed two other top pitchers in a class of five recruits and have a highly touted freshman ready to make her debut in spring.
Dennis Grall, sports editor
Lauren Danner of Kaukauna, Wis. was the state's Player of the Year in 2011. She is the third Kaukauna player to earn the Gatorade award. Danner led the Galloping Ghosts to a 24-1 record and a berth in the sectional finals. Kaukauna was ranked fifth nationally.
New recruits Ashley Holz of Oakfield, Wis. and Briana Cavin of Elk Grove Village, Ill. also appear ready for the challenge of earning innings along with three returning juniors.
Ashely Baker, a catcher from Bay Port High School near Green Bay also signed with UWGB.
Holz led Oakfield to the Division 4 state championship last year and also pitched in the title game as a freshman. She was second-team all-state.
Cavin set a school record with 26 wins while helping the Cougars to their first Mid Suburban League title in 37 years. A year earlier she set the school mark with 24 wins.
Three other area athletes also signed college scholarships earlier this month, Escanaba's Olivia Nash for basketball at Oakland University, Gladstone's Jammie Botruff for basketball at Grand Valley State and Manistique's Mike Nagy for golf at University of Tennessee.
Nash will join three current freshmen who played against Delta County teams in the 2011 tournament.
Shelby Harrington (21 points) and Peyton Aspey (seven points) helped Hemlock belt Gladstone 63-34 in the Class B quarterfinals and all-stater Lauren Robak helped Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes blast Bark River-Harris 53-35 for their second straight Class D state title.
Botruff will join another Yooper and former opponent at GVSU, freshman center Daina Grazulis of Marquette.
Nagy, only the second D-1 recruit from Manistique in the past five decades, is one of three premier golf recruits at Tennessee. He joins Grant Daugherty of Alcoa, Tenn. and Chad Merzbacher of Dublin, Oh.
"With all due respect to our former signing classes, this is undoubtably the finest class I have been associated with for over 20 years," coach Jim Kelson said on the school's website. He said each recruit is "extremely long, accurate and talented in all three phases of the game."
Tennessee has three seniors on this year's roster.
Daugherty won the Tennessee Class A-AA state title in 2010 and the state's Junior Amateur title this year and was 10th in the U.S. Junior Open.
Merzbacher was runner-up in the D-1state finals in Ohio and was all-state after helping the team to the state title.
Nagy is a two-time U.P. champion and has won the past four men's titles at Manistique Indian Lake Golf and Country Club, highlighted by a course-record 12-under 60 this year.
Nagy of course has the best chance to earn playing time because his golf scores will indicate how he fits into the team format. In softball and basketball, coach's decisions based on their player evaluations dictate who plays.