Plymouth Emerges as Repeat D1 Champ

October 19, 2013

By Gary Kalahar
Special to Second Half

EAST LANSING – If it’s possible for a defending MHSAA champion to lay in the weeds, the Plymouth High School girls golf team pulled it off this weekend.

Some early-season struggles might have kept the Wildcats out of the discussion of title contenders. But when the time came, Plymouth was ready to repeat. Plymouth captured its second consecutive Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship, emerging from a knot of teams at the top on a cold and soggy Saturday at Forest Akers West.

Plymouth finished two rounds at 706, four strokes in front of Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and five ahead of Troy. Those three teams were among five bunched within four strokes – and nine within 15 strokes – after the first round.

“Everybody had a chance to win,” Plymouth senior Kayla Whatley said. “We knew every stroke was going to count, because there are some good teams here and they were going to improve (from the first day).”

Plymouth led by two strokes after the first round, played in decidedly better conditions than the high-40 temperatures, cool breeze and intermittent rain of the second round. The Wildcats turned the worst day of the fall into the best.

“This one is better,” Plymouth junior Sydney Murphy said. “No one was expecting us to come out on top, and we did. We weren’t doing so well at the beginning, but we kept working at it, and here we are. We succeeded.”

Murphy, Whatley and sophomore Katie Chipman all helped Plymouth win the title last year. But that success didn’t carry over to 2013, at least early on as Plymouth had to replace two all-state players, including MHSAA medalist Kelsey Murphy. Even heading into the Regional, Plymouth was ranked just 10th in Division 1 by the coaches association.

“We started playing well the first of October and rode it through,” Plymouth coach Dan Young said. “We kept improving. It’s hard to explain. They’ve always practiced hard, done what they’re supposed to do.  For whatever reason, they started playing better. They’ve gotten better, and it’s been together as a team.”

Whatley, the only senior of the five Wildcats who played in the MHSAA Final, said the title was somewhat of a surprise.

“We really wanted to get it last year,” she said of Plymouth’s first championship. “We played much better all year long (last year).But after we won the conference, then we got excited, and we knew we had the potential to compete and win this.”

Even in the poor conditions, four of the five Plymouth golfers improved their scores from the first day. Murphy’s 77 was nine better, and Whatley’s 89 was a seven-stroke improvement.

“I needed to contribute to the team,” Murphy said about rebounding from her uncharacteristic first round. “It’s a team sport, and you all have to contribute what you can.”

“To her credit, she didn’t get down,” Young said. “Her attitude was tremendous. That’s what it’s all about. They all knew they had to come back and play better, and they did.”

Murphy’s ninth-place individual finish was Plymouth’s best, but the Wildcats’ depth was the difference. Katie Chipman totaled 166 and Alaina Strzalka 192 for Plymouth, which could have used its fifth-best score Saturday – Ariana Strzalka’s 103 – and still come out a winner.

For individual champion Lily Pendy, the single word on the back of her shirt – “Fight” – said it all.

Pendy, a senior at Grosse Pointe South playing in her fourth MHSAA Finals, fought through the conditions and won medalist honors with a 74-76—150. The pink shirts Pendy and her teammates sported bore inspirational words in honor of breast cancer awareness month and had special meaning for Pendy, whose mother, Megan, just finished cancer treatment.

“It shows what we’re playing for,” Pendy said. “This is really exciting. I did it for my team and my coach and my parents. Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”

After posting a sixth-place Finals finish last year and helping her team win the team championship in 2011, Pendy figured the top individual spot was attainable.

“I hadn’t thought about it too much, but I had it in the back of my head,” she said.

Pendy’s 74 in the first round put her three strokes in front, and she finished six clear of the field.

“I felt pressure,” Pendy said about carrying the lead into the second round. “I was nervous. I’m not going to lie. But I tried to turn the nerves into excitement.”

Elayna Bowser of Dearborn took second with a pair of 78s for 156. Emily White of Saline matched Pendy for the second day’s best round of 76 and finished third overall at 157.

“I convinced myself that I like playing in the rain,” Pendy said. “You have to have a good attitude about it. I played steady golf, par golf most of the way.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Plymouth players hoist the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship trophy for the second straight season. (Middle) A player launches an approach shot toward the green during Saturday's second round. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 9, 2024

The Girls & Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played at University of Michigan Lacrosse Stadium for the first time, one of the most notable changes for this season as sports ramp up for more than 100,000 athletes anticipated to participate this spring for Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools.

The MHSAA sponsors postseason competition each spring in baseball, girls and boys lacrosse, girls soccer, softball, girls and boys track & field, boys golf (Lower and Upper Peninsula) and girls golf (UP), and girls (LP) and boys (UP) tennis.

The U-M Lacrosse Stadium opened for competition in 2018 and seats 2,000 spectators. The Girls Lacrosse Finals will be played Friday, June 7, with Division 1 at 4 p.m. and Division 2 at 7 p.m. The Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played the following day, June 8, with Division 2 at 11 a.m. and Division 1 at 2 p.m.

Girls lacrosse also has a significant format adjustment this season, as games will be played with four 12-minutes quarters instead of the previous two halves, in part to allow coaches more opportunities to provide direct instruction during a game. Two more rules changes are expected to improve flow of play – players awarded a free position outside of the critical scoring area no longer must come to a stop and settled stance before self-starting, and false start penalties outside the critical scoring area have been eliminated.

Several more rules changes will be noticeable this spring:

In boys lacrosse, a change was made to enhance player safety. Play will stop immediately any time a player’s helmet comes off, and that player may not return until the next dead ball after play continues.

Fair and legal starts are a continued emphasis for track & field, and a rule change will allow for movement before the start of the race as long as a competitor does not leave their mark with a hand or a foot after the “set” command, or make forward motion before the starting device is activated.

A significant rule change in softball alters pitch delivery mechanics. The pitcher may now have both feet off the ground at the same time when releasing the ball as long as both feet remain within the 24-inch width of a pitching plate and the pitcher does not replant the pivot foot before delivering the pitch.

Another change in softball requires that a playbook/playcard be worn on the wrist or kept in a back pocket to reduce distractions. If worn by the pitcher, the equipment must be worn on the non-pitching arm. Similarly in baseball, a wristband with plays or instructions will be permitted but must be a single, solid color, and for pitchers may not contain the colors white or gray or be otherwise distracting. Baseball players must wear this wristband on the wrist or forearm, and pitchers may wear one only on their non-pitching arm.

Also in baseball, a rule change allows for one-way communication devices worn by the catcher to receive instructions from the dugout while on defense, for the purpose of calling pitches. The coach must be inside the dugout/bench area to use the communication device.

Golfers now are required to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that school team in an MHSAA Regional or Final. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hole events.

In tennis, for the first time in Lower Peninsula play, a No. 1 doubles flight from a non-qualifying team will be able to advance from its Regional to Finals competition. To do so, that No. 1 doubles flight must finish first or second at its Regional, and the No. 1 singles player from that team also must have qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play.

On the soccer pitch, two officiating-related changes will be especially noticeable. Officials now may stop the clock to check on an injured player without that player being required to leave the match – previously that player would have to sub out. Also, categories for fouls have been redefined: careless (which is a foul but does not receive a card), reckless (a foul with a yellow card) and excessive force (foul with red card). 

The 2023-24 Spring campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Golf and Boys Tennis Finals during the week of May 27 and wraps up with Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball Finals on June 15. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regional Semifinals – June 5
Regional Finals, Quarterfinals – June 8
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Boys Regionals – May 28-June 1
UP Girls & Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Boys Finals – June 7-8

Boys Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 10-15
Regionals – May 16-29
Quarterfinals – May 31 or June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 8

Girls Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 16-18, or May 20
Regionals – May 22-June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 7

Girls Soccer
Districts – May 22-June 1
Regionals – June 4-8
Semifinals – June 11-12
Finals – June 14-15

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regionals – June 8
Quarterfinals – June 11
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Girls Regionals – May 15-18
UP Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Girls Finals – May 31-June 1

Track & Field
Regionals – May 16-18
Finals – June 1