Preview: Set for Secchia Celebrations
Preview: Set for Secchia Celebrations
Softball
Posted Wednesday, June 12, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium could be home to a few more first-time MHSAA title celebrations this weekend.

Half the final fields in Division 1 and Division 2 are pursuing their first championships, as is the top-ranked team and three total in Division 3.

And regardless of who finishes the weekend with wins, nearly none of these players has experienced a championship of this caliber before. Of the other nine teams, only two have won Finals championships over the last four seasons – including Escanaba, which won its first last spring and is seeking a repeat.

See below for a schedule of this weekend’s games, plus glances at all 16 teams that will take the field beginning Thursday.

Semifinals – Thursday
Division 1 

Warren Regina vs. Bay City Western, 3 p.m. 
Howell vs. Clarkston, 5:30 p.m.

Division 2  
North Branch vs. Escanaba, 12:30 p.m. 
Stevensville Lakeshore vs. Eaton Rapids, 10 a.m.

Semifinals – Friday
Division 3 
Schoolcraft vs. Dundee, 3 p.m. 
Millington vs. Standish-Sterling, 5:30 p.m.

Division 4 
Unionville-Sebewaing vs. Rogers City, 12:30 p.m. 
Coleman vs. Kalamazoo Christian, 10 a.m.

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

Tickets cost $8 per round and include admission to baseball and girls soccer games those days also at MSU’s Old College Field. Radio broadcasts of all games can be heard online at MHSAAnetwork.com. All games will be streamed live online at MHSAA.tv and viewable on subscription basis.

All statistics below are through Regionals. (Click for links to brackets, scores and a parking map.)

Division 1

BAY CITY WESTERN
Record/rank: 31-7, No. 7
Coach: Kris Popp, fifth season (149-41) 
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League North
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2014, runner-up 2013. 
Players to watch: Tauri Hintz, sr. 1B (.462, 31 R, 12 2B, 9 HR, 43 RBI, 10-2 pitching); Addison Cooley, jr. RF (.446, 39 R, 15 2B, 45 RBI); Adaline Ziehmer, jr. P (.384, 23 R, 15 2B, 30 RBI, 20-3 pitching, 0.62 ERA, 227 K/147 IP); Bristol Bruzewski, jr. SS (.437, 33 R, 13 SB). 
Outlook: Bay City Western is 13-1 since splitting with rival Bay City Central midseason, and Western eliminated Central in the District Final as part of a playoff run during which the Warriors have outscored their five opponents by a combined 31-2. Hintz made the all-state first team last season as a pitcher, and senior catcher Megan Mann (.400, 28 RBI) earned honorable mention. They are part of a loaded lineup including seven .400 hitters including as well senior Karlie David (.418, 41 R) and sophomore Savannah Sprague (.440, 34 RBI).

CLARKSTON
Record/rank: 36-2, No. 2
Coach: Don Peters, 15th season (463-81)
League finish: Tied for first in Oakland Activities Association Red
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Players to watch: Hannah Cady, jr. C/IF (.560, 56 R, 18 2B, 8 HR, 76 RBI); Sierra Kersten, jr. IF (.539, 44 R, 13 2B, 12 HR, 69 RBI); Olivia Warrington, sr. P/IF (.375, 37 RBI, 17-1 pitching, 0.96 ERA, 175 K/102 1/3 IP); Abbey Tolmie, jr. P/IF (.535, 68 R, 15 2B, 53 RBI, 4-0 pitching, 1.76 ERA). 
Outlook: Clarkston has reached at least the Quarterfinals four of the last five seasons, and after missing the Semifinals last spring is back for the second time in three. The Wolves avenged last season’s Quarterfinal loss by edging top-ranked Hartland in the same round this time and also eliminated No. 5 Lake Orion in the District Final. Tolmie, Cady and Warrington all made the all-state first team last season. The team as a whole hits .413 – Mary Gallagher (.463, 34 R) and Anna Skvarce (.385, 39 R) are also among big bats – and Abbey Barta (14-1, 1.77 ERA) has nearly split the pitching with Warrington.

HOWELL
Record/rank: 35-3, No. 3
Coach: Ron Pezzoni, fifth season (164-37-1) 
League finish: Tied for first in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Players to watch: Avrey Wolverton, soph. P/IF (.465, 34 R, 17 HR, 59 RBI, 8-1 pitching, 1.40 ERA, 92 K/50 IP); Molly Carney, jr. P/IF (26-2, 0.68 ERA, 253 K/144 IP); AJ Militello, sr. OF/IF (.532, 71 R, 16 HR, 56 RBI); Maddie Gillett, sr. IF/OF (.551, 61 R, 16 HR, 63 RBI). 
Outlook: The powerful Highlanders are back at the Semifinals for the second straight season, and with 62 home runs through the Quarterfinal had surpassed the previous MHSAA single-season record (although they trail New Baltimore Anchor Bay, which hit 63 this spring). Howell shared its league’s title with top-ranked Hartland, a run which no doubt helped prepare the team for a postseason that’s included matchups with No. 9 Richland Gull Lake and honorable mentions St. Joseph and Canton. The Highlanders’ only losses were twice to Hartland and once to Division 3 top-ranked Millington. Wolverton and Militello made the all-state first team last season, and Carney earned honorable mention. Kara Johnson (.451), Maddie Springer (.452) and Rosie McQueen (.396) all help fill out a lineup averaging 11 runs per game.

WARREN REGINA
Record/rank: 28-11, No. 6
Coach: Diane Laffey, 49th season (1,157-478-5) 
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic League Central
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 2015). 
Players to watch: Leah Munson, sr. 2B (.473, 51 R, 10 2B, 30 RBI); Jacqueline Jozefczyk, jr. P/OF (.390, 30 R, 31 RBI, 6-2 pitching, 3.27 ERA); Marisa Muglia, sr. P/1B (.409, 42 R, 10 2B, 9 HR, 50 RBI, 17-3 pitching, 1.61 ERA, 220 K/134 2/3 IP); Mia Konyvka, soph. P/1B (.417, 29 R, 46 RBI). 
Outlook: After falling 1-0 to eventual champion Caledonia in last season’s Semifinal, Regina will take another run at the championship paced in part by an all-state honorable mention pitcher in Muglia and led by the winningest coach in MHSAA softball history. The Saddlelites have outscored their six postseason opponents by a combined 63-12, with Regional wins over honorable mentions Macomb Dakota and Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse. Freshman shortstop Abby Hornberger is another key run producer hitting .322 with 30 RBI.

Division 2

EATON RAPIDS
Record/rank: 39-3, No. 3
Coach: Scott Warriner, 15th season (496-110-4) 
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference White
Championship history: Class B runner-up 1981. 
Players to watch: Grace Lehto, jr. P (.458, 13 2B, 37 RBI, 30-1 pitching, 0.34 ERA, 342 K/163 IP); Shelby Warner, jr. 3B (.459, 48 R, 13 2B, 37 RBI, 21 SB); Peyton Benjamin, jr. CF (.496, 52 R, 15 2B, 32 SB); Shelby Kunkel soph. OF (.452, 40 R, 6 HR, 44 RBI, 17 SB). 
Outlook: After losing just 2-0 to last season’s eventual champion Escanaba in the Semifinal, Eaton Rapids is back with much the same cast. Catcher Sydney Clymer is the lone senior starter, and one of eight Greyhounds back from last season’s lineup. Lehto and Kunkel made the all-state first team in 2018, and a number of others have been just as impressive as the four mentioned above – juniors Kyra Acker (.459, 52 R, 12 2B, 31 SB), Kendi Richardson (.441, 34 R) and Morgan Vanderall (.429, 22 SB) and sophomore Emily Cline (.433, 38 RBI) all also hitting at least .400.

ESCANABA
Record/rank: 32-3, No. 1
Coach: Gary Salo, first season (32-3) 
League finish: First in Great Northern Conference
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2018, Division 1 runner-up 2003. 
Players to watch: Gabi Salo, jr. P (23-2, 0.17 ERA, 321 K/162 2/3 IP, .350, 37 RBI); Lexi Chaillier, sr. OF (.513, 59 R, 12 2B, 39 RBI, 23 SB); Madison Block, jr. 2B (.406, 29 R, 29 RBI); Nicole Kamin, soph. 1B. (.413, 27 RBI, 15 SB, 6-1 pitching, 1.75 ERA). 
Outlook: Only four starters are back from last season’s championship lineup – but they are the first four hitters this spring in Chaillier, Kamin, senior catcher Dakota Cloutier (.350, 37 RBI) and two-time all-state pitcher Salo. The Eskymos’ only losses were to Clarkston (see Division 1 semifinalists above), Division 3 top-ranked Millington and No. 5 Gladstone. Salo, who will pitch after high school for University of Wisconsin, has led Escanaba past a number of high-profile opponents during her career, and Chaillier also started for the 2017 team that made the Semifinals. Escanaba has outscored its six postseason opponents by a combined score of 33-1, with shutouts its last two games of No. 5 Muskegon Oakridge and honorable mention Freeland, respectively.

NORTH BRANCH
Record/rank: 29-9, honorable mention
Coach: Alyssa Welling, second season (57-22) 
League finish: Second in Blue Water Area Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Players to watch: Reese Ruhlman, sr. SS (.505, 39 R, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 15 SB); Maeson Schlaud, sr. P (.368, 25-2 pitching, 0.96 ERA, 271 K/175 IP); Clare Westphal, soph. CF (.440, 26 R, 10 SB), Claire Lyons, jr. RF (.384, 38 R, 15 SB). 
Outlook: North Branch is traveling to the Semifinals for the first time, guided by 2008-09 Lapeer West all-stater Welling in her second season running the program. The Broncos finished second in league play to No. 2 Richmond, but reached MSU outscoring five playoff opponents by a combined score of 46-3. North Branch ran together an impressive string of regular-season wins over Eaton Rapids and honorable mentions Saginaw Swan Valley and Imlay City, and also beat the latter in the District Semifinal. Ruhlman was an all-state first-team selection in 2018.  First baseman Autumn Deshetsky joins Schlaud (who has signed with Madonna University) and Ruhlman (Detroit Mercy) as the only seniors and delivers with a .357 average.

STEVENSVILLE LAKESHORE
Record/rank: 32-10, No. 4
Coach: Denny Dock, 30th season (981-222-2) 
League finish: Third in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West
Championship history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), one runner-up finish. 
Players to watch: Sierra Ciesielski, jr. SS (.479, 61 R, 17 2B, 8 HR, 33 RBI); Isabella Najera, jr. P/OF (.456, 41 R, 17 2B, 35 RBI, 9-4 pitching, 109 K/78 IP); Laney Mead, jr. P/OF (.426, 53 R, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 11-3 pitching, 73 K/77 1/3 IP); Meghan Younger, jr. 2B/C (.406, 11 2B, 34 RBI). 
Outlook: Lakeshore closed the regular season on a 5-5 string, and a tough schedule surely has paid off as the Lancers have eliminated No. 6 Spring Lake, No. 7 Edwardsburg and reigning Division 2 runner-up South Haven during this run, plus avenged a loss to Niles. Freshman pitcher Gianna Kerschbaum improved to 7-0 with the Quarterfinal win over Spring Lake and is slated to get the start in the Semifinal – she’s also the team’s fifth-leading hitter at .386 and has 40 RBI. Sophomore catcher Shelby Grau (.358, 30 RBI) also is a key bat for a team that has only one senior.

Division 3

DUNDEE
Record/rank: 33-9, No. 2
Coach: Mickey Moody, ninth season (252-88) 
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2013. 
Players to watch: McKenna Schmidt, sr. P (.543, 32 R, 15 2B, 9 HR, 45 RBI, 22-2 pitching, 1.06 ERA, 171 K/126 IP); Hannah Tackett, sr. OF (.495, 50 R, 38 RBI, 41 SB); Emma Marion, jr. 3B (.511, 50 R, 37 SB); Emily Killion, fr. C (.494, 24 R, 15 2B). 
Outlook: Dundee is making its second trip to the Semifinals, with wins over No. 4 Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central and No. 8 Clinton along the way. The Vikings prepped for the postseason with a tough regular-season schedule, including losses to Division 1 top-ranked Hartland and No. 2 Clarkston. Schmidt, Marion and senior second baseman Ali LaFountain (.380, 30 R) all made the all-state first team last season and help key a lineup with eight regulars hitting at least .375. Senior first baseman Ashley Fieltz (.450, 40 RBI) has been another of the most productive hitters.

MILLINGTON
Record/rank: 36-2-1, No. 1
Coach: Greg Hudie, 10th season (259-92-1) 
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference East
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2018. 
Players to watch: Darrien Roberts, jr. RF (.523, 70 R, 18 2B, 17 HR, 48 RBI); Gabbie Sherman, sr. P (.435, 7 HR, 43 RBI, 21-2 pitching, 0.86 ERA, 243 K/138 IP); Leah Denome, sr. CF (.528, 57 R, 13 2B, 46 RBI, 13 SB, 5-0 pitching, 0.48 ERA); Sydney Bishop, sr. C (.460, 43 R, 41 RBI). 
Outlook: The Cardinals missed out on their first championship last season falling 7-6 to Coloma in the title game, and the entire starting lineup returns. Sherman – who will continue at Kent State – made the all-state first team last season with Roberts and Bishop, while Denome (Spring Arbor) and junior first baseman Madi Hahn (.459, 49 RBI) earned honorable mentions. While honorable mention Byron in the Regional Final was the only postseason opponent listed in the final rankings, Millington beat Division 1 No. 3 Howell and No. 5 Lake Orion, Division 2 No. 1 Escanaba, Division 3 No. 5 Gladstone, swept No. 7 Standish-Sterling, North Branch and Division 2 honorable mentions Frankenmuth and Saginaw Swan Valley – and lost to Division 1 No. 2 Clarkston by just a run.

SCHOOLCRAFT
Record/rank: 31-4, honorable mention
Coach: Shane Barry, first season (31-4) 
League finish: First in Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Players to watch: Danielle Blyly, soph. LF (.518, 57 R, 18 2B, 29 RBI), Mikayla Meade, sr. P/3B (.457, 26 RBI, 13-3 pitching, 2.93 ERA); Adrienne Rosey, jr. P/3B (.453, 49 R, 19 2B, 39 RBI, 18 SB, 16-1 pitching, 2.39 ERA, 149 K/91 IP); Katie Parker, jr. 1B/SS (.448, 44 R, 7 HR, 48 RBI). 
Outlook: Schoolcraft graduated one of the top power hitters in MHSAA history last spring in Lydia Goble, and bounced back by reaching the Semifinals for the first time. Schoolcraft also might be the only team to defeat two reigning MHSAA champions during the following postseason – the Eagles eliminated reigning Division 3 champ Coloma in the Regional Final after edging 2018 Division 4 winner Centreville the game before. Eight regulars hit at least .365, with sophomores Kelby Goldschmeding (.444) and Jordan Watts (.411) both over .400 as well. Meade is the lone senior starter.

STANDISH-STERLING
Record/rank: 31-12, No. 7
Coach: Rich Sullivan, fifth season (98-93) 
League finish: Second in TVC Central
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Players to watch: Ashley Roper, jr. C (.451, 33 RBI); Lakin Fryzel, jr. P (.345, 23-6 pitching, 1.36 ERA, 235 K/186 IP); Laiken Ex, jr. OF (.410, 25 RBI, 11 SB); Shay Sullivan, sr. 3B (.364, 16 SB). 
Outlook: The Panthers are making their first trip to the Semifinals after winning their first Regional title and also after finishing 17-21 only two seasons ago. Ex, Sullivan and Fryzel all earned all-state honorable mentions last season, and Sullivan is the only senior in the starting hitting lineup. Standish-Sterling has outscored its six postseason opponents by a combined 31-3, with wins along the way over No. 10 Negaunee, No. 6 Sanford Meridian and honorable mention Pinconning. The Panthers also swept Division 2 honorable mention Saginaw Swan Valley and split with Division 2 No. 2 Richmond during the regular season.

Division 4


COLEMAN

Record/rank: 35-7, No. 1
Coach: Chad Klopf, ninth season (241-94) 
League finish: First in Mid-State Activities Conference
Championship history: Division 4 champion 2005, runner-up 2018. 
Players to watch: Jaden Berthume, sr. P/3B (.440, 40 R, 34 RBI, 24-4 pitching, 1.59 ERA, 142 K/154 IP); Katelyn Pnacek (.438, 52 R, 51 RBI, 15 SB); Makailyn Monson (.427, 44 R, 32 SB); Abigail Tubbs (.376, 46 R, 37 RBI). 
Outlook: Coleman has won five straight Regional titles and is making its third straight trip to the Semifinals, with seven of nine starters returning from last season’s run. Berthume made the all-state first team last season, and Monson earned honorable mention. All nine regulars hit .307 or higher, juniors Zoe Merillat (.379) and Brianna Townsend (.356, 39 RBI) also among the leaders. Coleman eliminated No. 7 Holton and honorable mention Beal City on the way to East Lansing.

KALAMAZOO CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 30-8, No. 2
Coach: Kevin Lewis, second season (58-18) 
League finish: Second in SAC Valley
Championship history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2013), four runner-up finishes. 
Players to watch: Jayme Koning, sr. P/C (.529, 35 R, 14 2B, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 14-5 pitching, 1.83 ERA, 121 K/107 IP); Sydney Duong, sr. SS (.436, 61 R, 12 HR, 32 RBI, 27 SB); Zoe Hazelhoff, soph. P/3B (.405, 39 RBI, 13-2 pitching, 1.44 ERA, 102 K/97 IP); Megan Snook, jr. 2B/P (.344, 36 R, 27 RBI). 
Outlook: This will be Kalamazoo Christian’s fifth Semifinal appearance in seven seasons and first since 2017, and the Comets finished runners-up in 2014 and 2015 after winning Division 4 in 2013. They’ve won their six tournament games this time by a combined score of 49-6, including a win over No. 6 Three Oaks River Valley in the Regional Final, and after finishing second in the SAC Valley to Division 3 semifinalist Schoolcraft. Duong made the all-state first team last season, and she and Koning are the team’s only seniors in addition to being its leading hitters.

ROGERS CITY
Record/rank: 27-7, No. 4
Coach: Karl Grambau, 16th season (462-164) 
League finish: First in North Star League Big Dipper
Championship history: Division 4 champion 2014, two runner-up finishes. 
Players to watch: Kyrsten Altman, jr. P/2B (.390, 37 R, 24 RBI, 18-5 pitching, 1.75 ERA, 176 K/132 IP); Amanda Wirgau, sr. C (.537, 42 R, 18 2B, 34 RBI); Jeffra Dittmar, soph. 1B (.352, 24 RBI); Taylor Fleming, sr. SS (.444, 50 R, 7 HR, 33 RBI).
Outlook: Rogers City is another return semifinalist after winning its fourth straight Regional title and fifth consecutive league championship. Fleming and Altman earned all-state honorable mentions last spring, and Wirgau and third baseman Catheryn Hart (.329, 23 RBI) are joined by Dittmar in filling out the middle of the lineup. A 7-0 win over No. 3 Onaway in the Regional Final has been the highlight of the playoffs after Rogers City earned regular-season victories over No. 6 Three Oaks River Valley and No. 9 Unionville-Sebewaing – Rogers City sees USA again on Friday.
 

UNIONVILLE-SEBEWAING
Record/rank: 29-9, No. 9
Coach: Isaiah Gainforth, third season (90-27) 
League finish: First in Greater Thumb Conference West
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2016), three runner-up finishes. 
Players to watch: Rylee Zimmer, sr. SS (.496, 56 R, 14 2B, 10 HR, 51 RBI, 19 SB); Maci Montgomery, soph. C (.398, 53 R, 29 RBI); Brynn Polega, soph. 1B/P (.471, 39 R, 53 RBI, 22-5 pitching, 1.91 ERA, 228 K/137 1/3 IP); Delanie Pavlichek, sr. DP (.398, 34 RBI). 
Outlook: USA won its 16th straight Regional title last weekend and will play in its second straight Semifinal and 13th in 14 seasons. A championship game berth would be the Patriots’ first since the last championship season in 2016; Zimmer scored as a pinch runner in the Semifinal that year as a freshman. She and Montgomery made the all-state first team last season, and Pavlichek earned an honorable mention. Freshman Macy Reinhardt is part of the next crew of standouts – she was hitting .410, third on the team, entering the week.

PHOTO: Coleman's Makailyn Monson connects during her team's District win over Beal City earlier this month. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)


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