Finals Preview: History Awaits
Finals Preview: History Awaits
Softball
Posted Wednesday, June 12, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Half of the 16 teams making the trip to this weekend's Softball Finals at Battle Creek's Bailey Park are seeking their first MHSAA championship.

Seven of those teams hope to play in a title game for the first time. Five teams – Linden, Dundee, Holton, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett and Ubly – won their first Regional titles and had never played during the season's final week until winning Quarterfinals on Tuesday.

The last rounds begin with the Division 3 Semifinals at 10:30 Friday morning. Below is this weekend's schedule, followed by a look at each team that will be playing. 

Semifinals - Friday

Division 1
Bay City Western (36-2) vs. Garden City (27-7), 3:30 p.m.
Romeo (33-8) vs. Mattawan (33-8), 4 p.m.

Division 2
Linden (31-4) vs. Saginaw Swan Valley (30-9), 6 p.m.
Livonia Ladywood (32-9) vs. Tecumseh (31-5-3), 6:30 p.m.

Division 3
Holton (27-9) vs. Unionville-Sebewaing (36-3), 10:30 a.m.
Allen Park Cabrini (29-5) vs. Dundee (43-1), 11 a.m.

Division 4
Kalamazoo Christian (31-7) vs. Rogers City (33-6), 1 p.m.
Ubly (26-6) vs. Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (31-7), 1:30 p.m.

Finals - Saturday

Division 1 – 3 p.m.
Division 2 – 5:30 p.m.
Division 3 – 10 a.m.
Division 4 – 12:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $7 per round or $15 for an all-tournament ticket that includes admission to baseball games. Radio broadcasts of all Semifinals can be heard online at MHSAAnetwork.com. All Finals will be streamed live online at MHSAA.tv, with radio broadcasts again available on the MHSAA Network website.

All statistics below are through at least the regular season, with most through teams' Regionals or Quarterfinals. (Click for links to brackets and scores.)

Division 1

BAY CITY WESTERN
Record/rank: 36-2, No. 3
Coach: Rick Garlinghouse, ninth season (287-73-2)
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Hannah Leppek, jr. P/1B (23-1, 0.97 ERA, 212 K pitching, .485, 38 RBI); Meredith Rousse, jr. SS (.521, 12 2B, 28 RBI), Kaylynn Carpenter, jr. CF (.450, 12 2B, 41 RBI), Haley Bickham, sr. C (.426, 42 RBI).
Outlook: Bay City Western is back in the Semifinals for the second time in three seasons and with a team that should continue to dominate as it will graduate only three players. Their losses came against rival Bay City Central by a run and then to Division 3 No. 10 Reese, but the Warriors otherwise dominated their competition and beat No. 2 Grandville 1-0 in Tuesday’s Quarterfinal. Eleven hitters are batting at least .308 this spring.

GARDEN CITY
Record/rank: 27-7, unranked
Coach: Barry Patterson, 27th season (641-245)
League finish: First in Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2008, Class A runner-up 1991.
Players to watch: Rachel Bommarito, jr. P/OF (13-2, 3.88 ERA, 59 K pitching, .480, 26 RBI, 45 R); Katlyn McIntosh, jr. 2B (.439, 11 2B, 42 R), Kaylen Glenfield, fr. SS (.434, 44 RBI), Abby Joseph, soph. 3B (.400, 42 RBI).
Outlook: Despite graduating 11 from last season’s team, Garden City is back in Battle Creek for the second straight and fourth time in eight years – and could be poised for another trip in 2014 with only two seniors and just one in the starting lineup. Offense has been a strong point: The Cougars have scored at least 10 runs in 15 games this season, including twice during the tournament.

MATTAWAN
Record/rank: 33-8, honorable mention
Coach: Alicia Smith, 13th season (350-153-1)
League finish: Third in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2011, runner-up 2012.
Players to watch: Allie Havers, sr. P/SS (22-5, 1.09 ERA, 231 K pitching, .364, 39 RBI); Kyla Nickrent, jr. SS/2B (.419, 52 R, 17 SB); Abby Stoner, sr. 1B (.408, 12 HR, 40 RBI); Sarah Johnson, sr. 3B (.376, 31 R, 24 RBI, 15 SB).
Outlook: Six players, including the top four in the lineup, also started as Mattawan fell 2-1 to Hudsonville in 10 innings in last season’s Final. The Wildcats will try to make it three straight championship game berths and two titles in three seasons, and have seen many of the state’s best already this season. Mattawan owns a win over No. 10 Romeo, another over Division 2 No. 1 Stevensville Lakeshore and a pair over Division 2 No. 2 Livonia Ladywood – and then beat Division 1 No. 1 Portage Central and No. 8 Saline during the tournament.

ROMEO
Record/rank: 33-8, No. 10
Coach: Dave McIntyre, fourth season (107-29)
League finish: Second in Macomb Area Conference Red
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Taylor Weaver, jr. P (29-2, 0.75 ERA, 291 K pitching, .432, 30 RBI); Danielle Szajna soph. 1B (.424, 37 R, 9 HR, 56 RBI); Kayla Noch, soph. SS (.404, 16 2B, 35 RBI); Morgan Gardner, fr. 2B (.392, 16 2B, 42 R).
Outlook: Romeo has arrived – perhaps a little earlier than expected, given there are only two seniors but four underclassmen in the starting lineup. The Bulldogs have won District titles in three of four seasons under McIntyre, and began this spring with a win over eventual No. 1 Portage Central. Romeo also owns wins against semifinalists Garden City and Livonia Ladywood.

Division 2

LINDEN
Record/rank: 31-4, unranked
Coach: Gordon Jamison, fourth season (74-100)
League finish: Second in Flint Metro League
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Maija Satkowiak, sr. CF (.532, 36 R, 34 RBI); Molly Sherman, jr. P (18-1, 1.73 ERA pitching, .505); Savannah Weaver, sr. SS (.442, 37 R, 30 RBI); Bri Senter, sr. 3B (.440, 25 R, 11 SB).
Outlook: Linden has made substantial progress under Jamison, finishing 9-28 but winning its District in his first season, then going 12-22 in 2011 before building a combined 52-22 record over the last two years. Five seniors make up most of the top and middle of an experienced lineup that upset No. 3 Wayland 10-8 in the Regional Final.

LIVONIA LADYWOOD
Record/rank:
32-9, No. 2
Coach: Scott Combs, sixth season (205-40)
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic High School League Central
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2012, runner-up 2009.
Players to watch: Andria Gietl, sr. 1B; Celeste Fidge, sr. 3B; Lauren Hayes, jr. OF; Haley Lawrence, jr. SS. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: It might’ve looked like the end of Ladywood’s recent run with the graduation of standout pitcher Briana Combs after last season’s MHSAA title. But the Blazers have returned to Battle Creek in part on the arm of freshman Rosalyn Price and have four starters back from last season’s Final (see those listed above). And Ladywood does have a Bailey Park-tested pitcher if needed – Hayes was the unlikely hero last season, closing out the Semifinal and throwing a shutout in the Final after Combs was injured.

SAGINAW SWAN VALLEY
Record/rank:
30-9, No. 7
Coach: Tom Kennelly, 34th season (990-254)
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference Central
Championship history: Class B champion 1996, three runner-up finishes (most recent 2012).
Players to watch: Sarah Addy, jr. 2B (.508, 41 R, 42 SB); Reegan Flattery, jr. C (.477, 34 R, 26 RBI); Courtney Reinhold, jr. P/1B (20-4, 0.67 ERA, 177 K pitching, .370, 4 HR, 32 RBI); Paige Churchfield, soph. C/1B (.413, 3 HR, 37 RBI).  
Outlook: After coming within a win of its first MHSAA championship in 17 seasons, Swan Valley has returned with a strong young nucleus that got experience during last season’s run. Reinhold has shined in taking over as the main pitcher, and junior centerfielder Kelli Halvin is hitting .430 as the top hitter among those who joined the lineup this spring. The Vikings began this run with a 3-1 win over No. 8 Bullock Creek in the District opener.

TECUMSEH
Record/rank: 31-5-3, honorable mention
Coach: Jeff Nowak, first season (31-5-3)
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference White
Championship history: Division 2 champions 2008 and 2007, two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Kelsea Kaliszuk (.584, 36 R, 39 RBI); Kylie Hill (.466, 31 R, 37 RBI), Kelsey Rendell (.463, 36 R, 17 2B, 9 HR, 48 RBI); McKenzie Rowe (.424, 48 R, 13 SB).
Outlook: The Indians’ 5-1 win over No. 1 Stevensville Lakeshore in Tuesday’s Quarterfinal might’ve been the stunner in the state that day, but maybe shouldn’t have been as surprising considering the teams Tecumseh also has beaten this spring – including Division 1 No. 4 Sterling Heights Stevenson, honorable mention Clarkston and Semifinalist Garden City. Four other regulars are hitting at least .333, and senior Emily Maves and junior Kayla Kormos had combined for a 28-2 pitching record and 1.87 ERA entering this week.

Division 3

ALLEN PARK CABRINI
Record/rank: 29-5, No. 4
Coach: Debbie Norman, 16th season (414-71)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League AA
Championship history: Division 4 champions 2007 and 2006, Division 3 runners-up 2010 and 2008.
Players to watch: Paige Altherr, sr. P (26-5, 2.29 ERA, 145 K pitching, .440, 40 RBI); Sydney Lankford, sr. 3B (.407, 36 R, 4 HR, 45 RBI); Ashley Gordon sr. 1B/P (.400, 43 RBI); Lily Ranspach, soph. SS (.391, 28 RBI); Abbey Walewski, sr. CF (.386, 46 R, 11 SB).
Outlook: Cabrini just missed a trip to Battle Creek last season, losing to eventual champion Clinton 2-1 in a Quarterfinal. The Monarchs eliminated two ranked opponents during this run, No. 8 Grass Lake in the Regional Semifinal and No. 10 Reese on Tuesday. Seven seniors anchor the starting lineup and key an offense that boasts an overall batting average of .355.

DUNDEE
Record/rank: 43-1, No. 1
Coach: Mickey Moody, third season (101-20)
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Hannah Rachor, sr. SS; Vanessa Ewing, sr. P (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: The Vikings’ longest run has included beating reigning two-time champion Clinton in the Regional Semifinal and two wins by double-digit runs. Dundee's regular-season success included a sweep of Clinton and victories over Division 1 honorable mention Hartland and Division 2 honorable mention Flat Rock. The only loss was 2-1 to Onsted;  Dundee has given up more than two runs only three times and never more than four runs.  

HOLTON
Record/rank: 27-9, unranked
Coach: Jeremy Hartwick, fourth season (82-59)
League finish: Third in Central State Activities Association
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Ashley Friend, soph. C (.446, 29 RBI, 39 R); Jacki Stone, soph. SS (.429, 13 2B, 35 R, 45 RBI, 19 SB); Rachel Younts, soph. P (22-6, 1.34 ERA, 173 K pitching, .356, 30 RBI, 36 R); Cassidy VanBlargan, sr. 1B (.316, 35 R, 14 SB).
Outlook: A group of six sophomore starters helped Holton to its first Regional title and no doubt has set a foundation for similar runs over the next two seasons. The Red Devils have won 10 of their last 11 and like to create havoc on the base paths – six players have stolen at least 10 bases this season. The District title two weekends ago was the team’s second straight after a 9-21 finish in 2011.

UNIONVILLE-SEBEWAING
Record/rank:
36-3, No. 3
Coach: Steve Bohn, second season (76-8)
League finish: First in Greater Thumb Conference West
Championship history: Three championships (most recent 2009 in Division 4), one runner-up finish.
Players to watch: Stephanie Neuman, jr. 2B (.510, 44 R, 16 2B, 5 HR, 35 RBI); Chelsey Bitzer, sr. 1B (.495, 43 R, 4 HR, 38 RBI); Breanna Dinsmoore, soph. 3B (.495, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 51 R); Erica Treiber, soph. P (17-2, 0.49 ERA, 160 K pitching, .427, 32 R).
Outlook: USA is returning to Bailey Park for the eighth straight season, and six starters also were in the lineup in last season’s Semifinal loss to eventual champion Clinton. Senior Ashlyn VanHoost is an all-state catcher and hitting .438 with 33 RBI as another of seven regulars batting at least .400. USA hasn’t given up a run in the postseason, outscoring its opponents – including No. 5 Gladstone in the Quarterfinal – by a combined score of 59-0. Freshman Nicole Bauer is 16-1 with a 0.53 ERA sharing pitching duties with Treiber.

Division 4

GROSSE POINTE WOODS UNIVERSITY LIGGETT
Record/rank: 31-7, No. 4
Coach: Ted Alpert, fifth season (85-50)
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Angela Evangelista (.531, 54 R, 35 SB); Emma Nicholas (.465, 41 R, 7 HR, 46 RBI); Anna Majewski (.448, 14 2B, 43 R, 47 RBI); Ashley Tengler (16-4, 1.71 ERA pitching, .478).
Outlook: University Liggett has improved its win total every season under Alpert. The Knights have outscored their postseason opponents by a combined 51-2, and their wins this spring include a sweep of honorable mention Waterford Our Lady, a Quarterfinal victory over honorable mention Concord and a 4-2 win over No.3 Rogers City. All nine regulars are hitting at least .394, and freshman Emily Kanakry is 10-0 sharing pitching duties with Tengler.

KALAMAZOO CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 31-7, No. 1
Coach: Karla Reno, fourth season (114-41)
League finish: First in Kalamazoo Valley Association
Championship history: Six championships (most recent 2002 in Division 3), two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Tori Sides, jr. CF (.461, 41 R, 17 SB); Stephanie VanderLugt, sr. P/IF (16-4, 1.57 ERA, 136 K pitching, .434, 40 RBI, 15 2B); Rebekah VanDam, jr. P/3B (14-3, 1.29 ERA, 117 K pitching, .370, 33 RBI); Morgan Locker, jr. SS (.322, 36 R).
Outlook: Kalamazoo Christian is making its first trip back to Bailey Park since its most recent championship run of 2002. The Comets have continued to justify their top ranking over the last two weeks, eliminating No. 7 Decatur in the Regional and No. 5 Gobles on Tuesday. They’ve seen some of the best in Michigan regardless of division and own wins over Division 1 No. Portage Central and Division 2 No. 10 Coloma. 

ROGERS CITY
Record/rank: 33-6, No. 3
Coach: Karl Grambau, 11th season (273-121)
League finish: First in Straits Area Conference
Championship history: Two runner-up finishes (most recent 2004).
Players to watch: Sarah Meredith (.522, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 32 R); Logan Fleming (.476, 5 HR, 39 RBI, 47 R); Cassie Brege (.455, 34 R); Nikki Radke (12-4, 2.88 ERA pitching).
Outlook: Rogers City is back at Bailey Park for the first time since 2004, and has succeeded on one of the toughest roads to get here with postseason wins over No. 6 Onaway, No. 8 Posen and No. 10 Rapid River. Depth is a strength – the team is batting .397 with every regular hitting at least .310. And Grambau can turn to a few pitching options with Radke the top thrower followed by senior Brooklyn Idalski (10-2, 2.82 ERA) and sophomore Alexa Quaine (8-0, 2.44).

UBLY
Record/rank: 26-6, unranked
Coach: Courtney Dekoski, third season (52-29)
League finish: First in Greater Thumb Conference East
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Michela Guza, soph. P/2B (14-3, 1.81 ERA pitching, .495, 15 2B 46 R, 29 RBI); Maria Guza, sr. SS (.459, 32 R, 26 RBI); Kari White, jr. LF (.400, 37 R); Alyssa Briolat, sr. C (.400, 37 R, 26 RBI); Marisa Guza, soph. RF (.400, 28 R).
Outlook: A group of four seniors have led Ubly to its first Semifinals, with the run including three shutouts in the District tournament. The Bearcats can score in bunches; the team has a batting average of .359 and has scored 10 runs or more in 17 games this season. Senior Marie Wolverton starts at second base but also is 10-3 pitching this spring.

PHOTO: Ubly players celebrate their winning run in Tuesday's Quarterfinal against Portland St. Patrick; the win advanced Ubly to the Semifinals for the first time. (Click to see more at HighSchoolsSportsScene.com.)


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