Grandville Calvin Christian softball

Softball

Preview: Prepare for Power-Packed Matchups, Plenty of History-Making Moments

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

June 15, 2022

The roster for this weekend’s MHSAA Softball Finals at Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium makes for a power-packed lineup.

The 16 teams playing for four championships have combined to claim 28 Finals titles in the past. Unionville-Sebewaing and Stevensville Lakeshore are among those sitting second in MHSAA history with seven championships won – and with opportunities to tie the record of eight Saturday.

Also among those 16 contenders are seven seeking their first championship – and four hoping to reach Saturday’s season-concluding games for the first time.

Division 1 - Thursday
Mattawan vs. Allen Park, 10 a.m.
Hudsonville vs. Macomb Dakota, 12:30 p.m.

Division 2 – Thursday
Essexville Garber vs. Trenton, 3 p.m.
Escanaba vs. Stevensville Lakeshore, 5:30 p.m.

Division 3 - Friday
Millington vs. Algonac, 10 a.m.
Grandville Calvin Christian vs. Evart, 12:30 p.m.

Division 4 - Friday
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart vs. Ottawa Lake Whiteford, 3 p.m.
Unionville-Sebewaing vs. Pickford, 5:30 p.m.

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

Tickets cost $11 and may be purchased online only at GoFan. One ticket is good for all softball, baseball and girls soccer games at MSU’s Old College Field that day. All Semifinals and Finals will be broadcast and available with subscription from MHSAA.tv, with free audio broadcasts on the MHSAA Network.

Below is a glance at all 16 teams taking the field (with statistics through Regional Finals unless noted):

Division 1

ALLEN PARK
Record/rank: 36-4-1, No. 2
Coach: Michael Kish, third season (96-18-3)
League finish: First in Downriver League
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2021.
Players to watch: Madison Hool, sr. IF (.344, 32 R, 35 RBI); Madilyn Ramey, sr. IF (.490, 39 R, 16 2B, 39 RBI); Morgan Sizemore, jr. P (.400, 31 RBI, 20-4 pitching, 1.64 ERA, 126 K/145 IP); Mia Hool, jr. IF (.461, 14 2B, 28 RBI).
Outlook: Allen Park is back after coming up one win shy of its first Finals title in this sport, and eight starters are back from last year’s championship game lineup. Ramey, Madison Hool and Sizemore made the all-state first team last season, while Mia Hool and junior catcher Molly Hool (.425, 11 2B) earned honorable mentions. Junior Faith Peschke (.397, 33 R) and seniors Autumn Bridges and Riley Kish also are returning starters. Allen Park’s latest two tournament wins were over No. 8 Brownstown Woodhaven in the Regional Final and No. 6 Farmington Hills Mercy in the Quarterfinal.

HUDSONVILLE
Record/rank: 34-6, No. 9
Coach: Tom Vruggink, 41st season (1,124-89)
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Players to watch: Ella Reifschneider, jr. SS (.536, 60 R, 41 RBI, 21 SB); Megan Beemer, soph. OF (.579, 70 R, 14 2B, 33 SB); Sydney Bosgraaf, jr. P (.367, 10 2B, 32 RBI, 16-4 pitching, 1.60 ERA, 167 K/105 IP); Annika Talsma, jr. 1B. (.487, 35 R, 21 2B, 62 RBI).
Outlook: Hudsonville is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since that most recent championship season, with wins over No. 5 Jenison and state rankings honorable mentions Zeeland West, Byron Center and Rockford along the way. Only two starters are seniors, and sophomore Elly Koopman (16-2, 1.62 ERA, 112 K/117 IP) joins Bosgraaf throwing for a team that has a big future as well. Junior Avery Hobson (.396, 14 2B, 39 RBI) is another big bat, and Koopman (.329), junior Ashley Sorrell (.330) and seniors Jessica Dobias (.338, 15 SB) and Lauren Schwallier (.354) help fill out the lineup.

MACOMB DAKOTA
Record/rank: 31-4, No. 3
Coach: Dan Vitale, third season (58-13-1)
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2017, runner-up 2016.
Players to watch: Megan Nuechterlein, jr. P (.392, 33 RBI, 16-2 pitching, 0.84 ERA, 199 K/108 IP); Angela Petrovitch, sr. SS (.505, 45 R, 39 SB); Brooklyn Plitz, jr. 2B (.490, 41 R, 19 SB); Faith Maloney, jr. UTY (.470, 23 RBI).
Outlook: Dakota took the next step after reaching the Quarterfinals a year ago. Dakota defeated honorable mention New Baltimore Anchor Bay in the Regional Final and No. 4 Walled Lake Northern in the Quarterfinal to run its winning streak to 20 this spring. Nuechterlein and senior catcher Briana Bumbalough made the all-state first team last season, with Petrovitch earning an honorable mention. Freshman Jenna Higgins (.373), sophomores Sidnee Puffpaff (.355, 13 SB) and Gracie Maloney (.330, 31 RBI) and senior May Franzoni (.319) help fill out the lineup.

MATTAWAN
Record/rank: 24-15, honorable mention
Coach: Alicia Smith, 22nd season (556-254-2)
League finish: Second in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2013 and 2011, runner-up 2012.
Players to watch: Alyssa Bloomfield, sr. OF (.468, 52 R, 11 2B, 8 HR); Ashlyn Bloomfield, soph. SS (.404, 38 R, 30 RBI); Eliana Ruhrup, jr. 3B (.357, 10 2B, 46 RBI); Madison Vrba, jr. P (14-8, 2.32 ERA, 160 K/126 2/3 IP).
Outlook: This will be Mattawan’s sixth Semifinal trip over the last 10 seasons (not counting COVID-canceled 2020), and first since 2017. The Wildcats advanced with a 3-1 win over top-ranked and reigning champion South Lyon in a Quarterfinal, avenging an earlier sweep. Mattawan also notably closed the regular season with a split against Hudsonville. Alyssa Bloomfield made the all-state first team last season, and senior catcher Hannah Sweers earned an honorable mention. Senior Madelyn Beck (.325) is among others who add pop to the lineup.

Division 2

ESCANABA
Record/rank: 30-5, No. 7
Coach: Andy Fields, second season (49-15)
League finish: First in Great Northern Conference
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2019 and 2018, Division 1 runner-up 2003.
Players to watch: Anna Boutilier, soph. 3B (.511, 36 R, 17 SB); Lizzy Sliva, sr. OF (.495, 41 R, 10 2B, 10 HR, 45 RBI); McKayla Mott, jr. P (.433, 11 2B, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 14-2 pitching, 1.16 ERA, 130 K/78 1/3 IP); Carsyn Segorski, sr. SS (.379, 44 R, 30 SB).
Outlook: After missing out last year, Escanaba is back at the Semifinals for the fifth time in six seasons (not counting canceled 2020). The Eskymos defeated top-ranked Gaylord in the Regional Final and then No. 10 (tied) Hudsonville Unity Christian in the Quarterfinal, and all five losses this spring were to top-10 ranked teams in either Division 1 or 2. Segorski, a starter in the 2019 Final, earned an all-state honorable mention last season and leads off for a lineup that as a whole entered the week hitting .446. There are big bats throughout, with senior Erica Moore (.474, 11 2B, 30 RBI), juniors Carney Salo (.465, 31 RBI) and Paxton Bullen (.483, 39 R, 12 2B, 19 SB), sophomore Carley McInerney (.421, 32 R) and freshman Grayson LaMarche (.412) regulars as well. LaMarche (10-2, 1.73, 135 K/64 2/3 IP) is expected to get the Semifinals start in the circle.

ESSEXVILLE GARBER
Record/rank: 35-8, No. 8
Coach: Chris Kokaly, second season (69-16)
League finish: Second in Tri-Valley Conference 8
Championship history: Class B runner-up 1997.
Players to watch: Alexis Linton, jr. SS (.432, 59 R, 36 RBI, 26 SB); Sarah Basket, jr. P (.468, 20 2B, 46 RBI, 22-4 pitching, 1.87 ERA, 242 K/172 1/3 IP); Kortney Kotenko, jr. C (.527, 11 HR, 53 RBI); Lauren Claerbout, sr. C/OF (.462, 47 R, 12 2B).
Outlook: Garber defeated No. 10 (tied) Linden, No. 5 Frankenmuth and honorable mention Detroit Country Day in its last three games to reach the Semifinals for the first time since that runner-up season of 1997. The Frankenmuth win avenged a doubleheader sweep by the league rival Eagles. Basket earned an all-state honorable mention last season and is part of a junior class that makes up two-thirds of the hitting and fielding lineups. Seniors Emma Miller (.357, 30 RBI) and Jacqueline Brinkman (.324) and juniors Ella Wagner (.426, 39 R, 40 RBI) and Laney Kokaly (.403, 32 R, 15 2B, 39 RBI, 20 SB) also are major contributors.

STEVENSVILLE LAKESHORE
Record/rank: 38-4, honorable mention
Coach: Denny Dock, 43rd season (1,054-228)
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference
Championship history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Gianna Kerschbaum, sr. P/OF (.387, 53 R, 12 HR, 34 RBI, 1.94 ERA); Olivia DenDooven, sr. IF (.363, 41 R); Pallas Dominion, soph. 2B (.357, 46 R, 32 RBI, 14 SB); Anna Chellman, sr. 3B (.394, 52 R, 32 RBI).
Outlook: Dock is the third-winningest coach in MHSAA softball history, and Lakeshore is something of a regular at the Semifinals with this its seventh appearance since 2010 and latest since finishing Division 2 runner-up in 2019. Kerschbaum made the all-state first team as a pitcher last season and was the team’s starter in the 2019 Final. She had 11 wins this season entering the week as part of a three-person staff with junior Ava Mullen winning 14 games and sophomore Avery Arwood 11 as well, all with ERAs below 2.00. Junior Eden Gray is another important bat, hitting .350 with 35 runs scored.

TRENTON
Record/rank: 32-10, honorable mention
Coach: Rick Tanguay, third season (62-15)
League finish: Second in Downriver League
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2005.
Players to watch: Annika Segedi, soph. 2B (.522, 56 R, 25 SB); Olivia Hickman, sr. C/DP (.465, 20 2B, 49 RBI); London Williams, soph. SS (.512, 56 R, 18 2B, 57 RBI, 12 SB, 6-0 pitching, 2.15 ERA); Aila Johnson, sr. P (21-9, 2.47 ERA, 160 K/155 2/3 IP).
Outlook: Trenton is back at the Semifinals for the first time since that runner-up season of 2005, and despite losing all-stater and Michigan recruit Lillian Vallimont for the entire season. Williams, also an all-state first-teamer last season, has continued to produce big numbers and forms an outstanding duo up the middle with Segedi, an all-state honorable mention in 2021. Trenton finished second in the Downriver League only to Division 1 contender Allen Park, and defeated honorable mention Milan on the way to MSU. Sophomore Molly Edmunds (.364) and juniors Gracie Rickman (.347, 38 R, 32 RBI) and Kendyl Gearhart (.330) also bring strong averages to the starting lineup.

Division 3

ALGONAC
Record/rank: 32-3, No. 4
Coach: Len Perkins, fourth season (76-33)
League finish: Second in Blue Water Area Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Ella Stephenson, jr. OF (.650, 64 R, 18 2B, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 28 SB); Kenna Bommarito, soph. P/1B (.527, 32 R, 15 2B, 37 RBI, 17-2 pitching, 1.64 ERA, 181 K/115 IP); Sierra Vosler, soph. OF (.419 32 R, 41 RBI, 14 SB); Brianna Thomason, sr. 2B (.410, 45 R, 34 RBI).
Outlook: Algonac has emerged from one of the state’s strongest leagues – the BWAC also included No. 2 Richmond and No. 5 Almont – to win its first Regional title and reach the season’s final week for the first time. The Muskrats advanced with a 5-4 Quarterfinal win over honorable mention Grass Lake. Stephenson made the all-state first team last season and is enjoying one of the most jaw-dropping seasons in the state this spring. Freshman Jaycee Reams (.372, 37 R, 41 RBI, 13 SB), sophomore Camdin Thaler (.380, 34 R) and senior Maria Simpson (.344, 11 SB) also are key contributors for a lineup averaging 10.8 runs per game. In addition to Bommarito in the circle, junior Deanna DeLange entered the week 11-0 with a 1.18 ERA. Senior catcher Sophia DuVernay earned an all-state honorable mention last season.

EVART
Record/rank: 31-8-1, unranked
Coach: Amanda Brown, 11th season (160-110-3)
League finish: First in Highland Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Addysen Gray, jr. P (.445, 57 R, 29 RBI, 20-4 pitching, 1.50 ERA, 207 K/144 1/3 IP); Katelyn Gostlin, soph. 3B (.512, 46 R, 22 2B, 50 RBI); Kayanne Tiedt, soph. 2B (.447, 28 R); Brooklyn Decker, soph. RF (.395, 33 R, 10 2B).
Outlook: Brown has led Evart to a 57-14-1 record over the last two seasons and this spring its first Regional title since 1999 and first trip to the Semifinals. The Wildcats haven’t given up more than a run in any of six playoff games. Senior Skylar Baumgardner (.378, 35 R), sophomore Ally Theunick (.377, 29 RBI) and freshman Kylynn Thompson (.370, 37 R, 7-3 pitching, 2.04 ERA) also bring big bats to the lineup. And the future looks incredibly bright as well, with Baumgardner and first baseman Veronica Lofquist the only senior starters in a lineup that also includes five underclassmen.

GRANDVILLE CALVIN CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 34-3, honorable mention
Coach: Michal Huizenga, second season (70-8)
League finish: First in O-K Silver
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 1993), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Brooke Hunderman, sr. P/IF (.383, 33 R, 10 2B, 43 RBI, 24-2 pitching, 1.17 ERA, 194 K/143 2/3 IP); Macy Verbeek, jr. C (.520, 60 R, 18 2B, 47 RBI, 13 SB); Anna Zoet, fr. 3B (.559, 71 R, 28 2B, 40 RBI, 19 SB); Lauren Steenstra, sr. SS (.488, 55 R, 22 2B, 60 RBI).
Outlook: Calvin Christian finished Division 3 runner-up in 2016 and is back at the Semifinals for the first time since after also reaching the Quarterfinals two more seasons in between. Hunderman made the all-state first team last season, and Verbeek earned an honorable mention, and they help lead a lineup with plenty of run production. Zoet is enjoying a memorable high school debut, and sophomores Karsen Balmer (.411, 36 RBI), Emili Goodheart (.387, 34 R, 42 RBI) and Grace Walcott (.340) are among other key contributors. Hunderman, Steenstra and outfielder Katelynn VanDyken (.328) are the only seniors on the roster, with junior Andrea Diemer (.309) and sophomore Ella Walcott two more starters who should make the 2023 team tough as well.

MILLINGTON
Record/rank: 33-3, No. 1
Coach: Greg Hudie, 13th season (329-97)
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference 10
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2019, runner-up 2018.
Players to watch: Ashley Ziel, sr. P (.339, 42 R, 10 2B, 25-3 pitching, 1.64 ERA, 209 K/153 1/3 IP); Trinity Fessler, sr. C (.475, 37 R, 18 2B, 44 RBI); Lilia Sherman, jr. 1B (.516, 46 R, 21 2B, 51 RBI, 8-0 pitching, 2.38 ERA); Dylan Holmes, sr. SS (.472, 42 R, 11 2B, 35 RBI).
Outlook: Hudie helped Millington earn its first championship in 2019 with Fessler, Ziel and senior Leah Coleman (.414, 54 R, 16 2B, 36 RBI) making contributions in the Final as freshmen. Fessler, Ziel and now-senior centerfielder Emma Dickie (.412, 38 R, 10 2B, 41 RBI) made the all-state first team last season, and Sherman earned an honorable mention. The Cardinals advanced with their most recent wins over No. 2 Richmond in the Quarterfinal and No. 9 Cass City and honorable mention New Lothrop in the Regional. Seniors Falon Wilson (.337, 31 R) and Shannon Ziel (.296, 33 R) are two more key contributors to a lineup averaging just under 10 runs per game.

Division 4

MOUNT PLEASANT SACRED HEART
Record/rank: 27-11, unranked
Coach: Josh Wheaton, fifth season (86-47)
League finish: First in Mid-State Activities Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Laura Goenner, sr. OF (.436, 51 R, 40 RBI, 24 SB); Kelsey McDonald, sr. 2B (.449, 49 R, 27 SB); Ellery Garver, fr. 1B (.630, 37 R, 12 2B, 33 RBI, 18 SB); Nyah Carson, fr. P/OF (.447, 29 R, 39 RBI).
Outlook: Sacred Heart is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since 2012, with a Regional win over No. 7 Portland St. Patrick among highlights from the tournament run. The Irish have won nine straight since suffering a 10-0 regular-season loss to St. Patrick. Goenner made the all-state first team last season, and McDonald earned an honorable mention. Senior Natalie Jones (14-2 pitching, 2.88 ERA, 135 K/102 IP) will throw for Sacred Heart, and she’s also part of a hitting lineup with all batters averaging at least .303. Senior Anna Terwilliger (.375, 34 R, 10 2B, 33 RBI, 12 SB) is another major run producer, with junior Eliza Pieratt (.370), freshman Kallie Smith (.315), Jones (.314) and senior Emma Yonker (.303) rounding out the lineup.

OTTAWA LAKE WHITEFORD
Record/rank: 39-4, No. 2
Coach: Matt VanBrandt, third season (71-9)
League finish: First in Tri-County Conference
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 1987), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Alyssa VanBrandt, jr. SS (.692, 68 R, 12 2B, 43 RBI, 27 SB); Unity Nelson, soph. P/2B (.417, 46 RBI, 20-3 pitching, 0.36 ERA, 239 K/116 IP); Ambrelle Billau, sr. 3B (.490, 62 R, 10 2B, 50 RBI, 14 SB); Berlynn Keller, sr. P/2B (.441, 11 2B, 50 RBI, 17-0 pitching, 1.13 ERA, 145 K/87 IP).
Outlook: Whiteford is a combined 71-9 over VanBrandt’s two seasons and is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since finishing Division 4 runner-up in 2017 and after reaching the final week of the season for the fourth time in six seasons (not counting canceled 2020). VanBrandt, Nelson, Billau and Keller all made the all-state first team last spring. Senior Adrianna VanBrandt is hitting .516 with 44 runs scored and 16 stolen bases, and junior Patrina Marsh (.391, 37 R, 11 SB) and sophomores Karlei Conard (.359), Jillian Webb (.339) and Kaydence Sheldon (.300) round out the hitting lineup.

PICKFORD
Record/rank: 24-14-2, unranked
Coach: Matt Hudecek, second season (42-22-2)
League finish: Second in Straits Area Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Lucy Bennin, sr. UTY (.530, 64 R, 12 2B, 47 RBI); Laura Bush, soph. P/1B (.441, 41 R, 41 RBI, 8-4 pitching); Chloe May, soph. SS (.396, 62 R, 12 2B, 39 RBI); Lizzie Storey, sr. OF (.365, 42 R, 35 RBI). (Statistics include Quarterfinal.)
Outlook: Pickford is making its first trip to the Semifinals after winning its first Regional title in this sport. The Panthers advanced by defeating honorable mention Norway in the Regional Final and No. 8 Hillman in the Quarterfinal. Pickford is averaging 10.6 runs per game and has scored in double digits four of five playoff games. Six sophomores and five seniors make up the bulk of the roster, with two juniors, and sophomore Finley Hudecek (14-9, 105 K/149 IP) will be in the circle for the Semifinal. Senior Morgan Fox (.359), junior Madison Thurmes (.309) and Hudecek (.306) also are among the team’s top-hitting regulars.

UNIONVILLE-SEBEWAING
Record/rank: 29-9, No. 1
Coach: Isaiah Gainforth, sixth season (163-39)
League finish: First in Greater Thumb Conference West
Championship history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2021), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Laci Harris, sr. P/3B (.489, 61 R, 19 2B, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 18-5 pitching, 1.29 ERA, 212 K/130 IP), Macy Reinhardt, sr. 2B (.434, 48 R, 13 2B, 38 RBI); Gabriella Crumm, soph. C (.556, 57 R, 20 2B, 11 HR, 50 RBI); Ella Neumann, soph. SS (.476, 40 R, 17 2B, 44 RBI, 15 SB).
Outlook: USA has won four of the last six Division 4 championships including the last two, and this year’s Patriots are plenty tested with all nine losses to ranked teams in Divisions 2 and 3 including two (Garber and Millington) playing for championships this weekend. USA defeated No. 4 Riverview Gabriel Richard in the Quarterfinal. Reinhardt and Harris made the all-state first team last season, and Crumm earned an honorable mention. Sophomores Jenna Gremel (.441, 43 R, 45 RBI) and Rylie Betson (.407, 42 R, 10 2B, 35 RBI), and juniors Olivia Jubar (.389 46 R, 17 2B, 41 RBI), Kennedy Schember (.344, 41 R, 10 2B) and Lauren Green (.340, 32 R) round out a lineup averaging 11.1 runs per game.

PHOTO Grandville Calvin Christian huddles up before the start of an inning during a Division 3 Regional Final against Ravenna. (Photo by Bethany McCullough/CatchMark SportsNet.)