The last statement you made is an important one. "I just don't want to call attention to it if there is no need."
Your overall GPA is strong and you clearly have achived multiple academic honors. As such, I would be reticent to draw attention to your Freshman year. Scott often says that committees are much more forgiving of a strong academic close than a weak academic beginning. This is definitely the case.
While I wouldn't recommend using the optional essay for this purpose, I would be prepared to respond to any question I received in regard to your first year during an interview.... but it sounds like you already have a good response for that.