D4 Baseball: Decatur Strikes Late

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

June 15, 2012

BATTLE CREEK – Decatur baseball coach Ben Botti knew from experience his team likely would need to “dodge a bullet” to have a chance to win this season’s MHSAA Division 4 championship.

That moment came in Friday’s Semifinal against Muskegon Catholic Central. And senior shortstop Theo Rufo responded by firing a shot of his own.

The No. 2-ranked Raiders trailed by a run going into the top of the seventh inning when Rufo hit a drive nearly to the wall in left-centerfield. He arrived at third base for a triple, but the throw behind him sailed into MCC’s dugout, allowing Rufo to score the go-ahead run.

And that’s all Decatur ace J.T. Kawaski needed to finish a 3-2 win and get Decatur to its first MHSAA championship game since winning back-to-back titles in 2002 and 2003.

“Our coach said the two times he did win state, they had to dodge a bullet. We knew if we wanted to make it that far, we haven’t dodged a bullet yet,” Rufo said. “We knew coming in we had it (in us) because we’ve come back a couple times this season. So we weren’t down on ourselves. We knew we could come back.”

Decatur (35-6) will face top-ranked Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Raiders had cruised through the playoffs until Friday, winning the last three games by a combined score of 23-5. But MCC put a run up in both the second and third innings, and led 2-1 heading into Decatur’s final at bats.

Freshman Joby Kawaski opened the seventh with a walk, then scored when Rufo turned on a fastball on the inner half of the plate. J.T. Kawaski got MCC 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.

“We thought we had it in the bag after that,” Rufo said of his run. “We knew we could shut it down with J.T. our ace on the mound.”

Junior outfielder T.J. Stambeck also had two hits and an RBI for Decatur, and Kawaski gave up only two hits and struck out four.

MCC freshman Nick Holt also threw a complete game, striking out six and giving up just one earned run. He had one of two hits for the Crusaders (26-9). Click for a full box score.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 15, Rudyard 3

The reigning champion University Liggett (25-3) scored 10 runs in the third inning to break open a game that lasted only five innings.

Junior Connor Fanton was one of four Knights to drive in at least two runs, and he also scored twice and had two hits while throwing all five innings on the mound and striking out nine. Junior outfielder Kevin Allen hit a three-run homer during the big rally.

Rudyard (20-17) got one hit each from five batters and RBI from junior first baseman Justin Kruger and senior third baseman Kyle Roe. Click for a full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Decatur senior J.T. Kawaski drives a ball during Friday's Semifinal win over Muskegon Catholic Central. (Middle) University Liggett junior Connor Fannon pitched all five innings and got the win over Rudyard in his team's Semifinal.

Longtime Chelsea High School Administrator, Coach Bush to Join MHSAA Staff as Assistant Director

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

December 21, 2022

Brad Bush, a highly-respected educator, administrator and coach over the last three decades, has been selected to serve in the position of assistant director for the Michigan High School Athletic Association, beginning Jan. 17.

Brad BushBush, 52, taught and coached at East Kentwood High School for four years before beginning a tenure at Chelsea High School in 1997 that has included teaching, then serving as athletic director and later also assistant principal and leading the football program as varsity coach from 1997-2002 and again from 2004-18.

He also has served as a statewide delegate on the MHSAA Representative Council during the last year and provided leadership in multiple roles, including president, for the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) since 2005.

Bush will serve as the MHSAA’s lead administrator for baseball and also among lead administrators for the officials program, which includes more than 8,000 registered officials in all sports. Bush also will be assigned additional duties in other sports based on his vast experiences. He was selected from a pool of 34 applicants.

“I’m incredibly excited to have Brad join our team,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. "He’s been an outstanding athletic director and coach who is highly-respected by those who know him.”

As Chelsea athletic director, Bush annually has supervised a staff of 110 coaches across 31 programs, with nearly 70 percent of the high school’s 800 students participating in athletics. As a teacher and assistant principal, he has served on Chelsea’s School Improvement Team and on multiple committees that provided instructional leadership including in the development of the district’s new trimester schedule. In his roles with the MHSFCA, Bush helped direct an organization with more than 2,200 members and also served as the association’s treasurer and liaison to the MHSAA.

Bush is perhaps best known, however, for his coaching success. Over 22 seasons, he led Chelsea’s varsity football team to a 169-60 record, 13 league championships, 18 playoff appearances, seven District titles and a Division 3 runner-up finish in 2015. During his break in tenure as Chelsea coach, Bush served as an assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator for Eastern Michigan University during the 2003-04 school year, and he has served as an assistant coach at Albion College the last four seasons contributing to the team’s two league titles and appearance in the 2021 NCAA Division III Playoffs.

“I feel like joining the team at the MHSAA is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Bush said. “The 26 years I spent at Chelsea were some of the best times of my life. It’s a professional transition that in the back of my mind, if this opportunity came, was something I needed to do.

“Over time, I’ve grown to care about the bigger picture of athletics and appreciate the role of the MHSAA in protecting high school athletics in Michigan.”

Bush is a 1988 graduate of Ypsilanti High School. He studied and played quarterback at Cornell University before returning and graduating from EMU after majoring in history and minoring in social studies. He earned his physical education endorsement from EMU in 2000 and his master’s in physical education and sports management from EMU in 2002. He has earned continuing education credits in sports management from Drake University and completed the Path to Leadership program from the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP). 

Bush was inducted into MHSFCA Hall of Fame and Ypsilanti High School Hall of Fame both in 2019. He and his wife Laura have three adult children, two daughters and a son.

PHOTO Chelsea coach Brad Bush directs his team during the 2015 Division 3 Final at Ford Field.