By Butch Harmon
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING – It may not have been a perfect game.
But the no-hitter tossed by Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central sophomore Meghan Beaubien on Friday was impressive enough.
She entered the Division 3 Semifinal against Pinconning with nine no-hitters this season, including five perfect games, and reaching double digits by silencing the Spartans’ bats to lead St. Mary to a 6-0 win and berth in Saturday’s championship game.
Beaubien, who also averages 16 strikeouts per game, hit her average as she fanned 16 batters without allowing a walk.
Only a pair of third-inning errors prevented Beaubien from notching a perfect game. Those errors came at the start of the inning and gave Pinconning (30-14) a shot of momentum by putting runners on the corners with no outs. Beaubien, however, took the air out of that momentum by striking out the next two batters and inducing the third out on a fly ball to center field.
“That was a big situation to get out of,” said Beaubien, when asked about the jam she was in during the third inning. “They had runners on first and third with no out. They had their number nine hitter coming up, then it was back to the top of the order. So it was a big deal to get out of.”
Beaubien had a little wiggle room to work with thanks to a four-run first inning that staked St. Mary to a 4-0 lead.
With two outs and one runner on base, St. Mary (36-5) strung together four straight hits. Julianne Venier doubled in the first run, and Keeley Taft followed with an RBI single to give the Kestrels a 2-0 lead. Danielle Michael followed with a run-scoring double, and Michaela Rogers laced an RBI single to close out the scoring.
“The early runs help a lot,” said Monroe St. Mary coach John Morningstar. “We feel that if we get three or four runs, Meghan is pretty much automatic. Obviously it made it a lot easier with the early runs. It gave everyone some breathing room.”
Having Beaubien in the circle firing strikes also made it easier for the St. Mary players and coaches to take a breath. Beaubien entered the game with a Monroe County record 430 strikeouts to her credit.
“This is what she does,” Morningstar said. “She averages 16 strikeouts a game. This was her 10th no-hitter, and she has five perfect games. At the level of which she is pitching, what she does out there does not surprise me. Obviously you don’t expect a no hitter or a perfect game, and it’s unfair to her to expect one.”
For Beaubien, who has already given a verbal commitment to the University of Michigan, no-hitter number 10 was more than special – even if it wasn’t a perfect game.
“This is definitely up there,” Beaubien said. “To get a no-hitter in the state semifinals and get us into the state championship game is a pretty big deal. I never try to go out and throw a no-hitter and don’t expect it, but I do expect a lot out of myself when I go out there.”
The shutout also gave the Kestrels plenty of momentum heading into Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. title game against Bronson.
“To have a no-hitter in the state semifinals, it gives us a lot of confidence going into tomorrow,” Beaubien said.
Bronson 5, Montague 0
With more than half its roster freshmen, including four starters, the future looked promising for the Vikings (37-7) at the start of the season.
That future arrived early, as halfway through the season Bronson coach Becky Gray knew she had a team capable of accomplishing special things.
Bronson accomplished something very special during Friday’s Semifinal – earn its first MHSAA softball championship game berth.
“At the beginning of the year, I honestly didn’t know how good we would be,” Gray said. “We graduated five seniors from last year, and I did not know how the freshmen would do. As the season went on, I knew it was a possibility.”
It also was during midseason that senior pitcher Skyler Sobeski took her game to the next level. Already an accomplished pitcher, Sobeski began a run in mid-May that saw her allow only one earned run through the end of the regular season and up through Friday’s win.
Sobeski scattered two hits and struck out 12 Montague batters en route to the shutout.
“It was definitely exciting pitching in front of all these people here,” Sobeski said. “I never pitched in front of a crowd this big before.”
Sobeski relied on her normal pitches to get the job done.
“I was throwing my curves and rises,” Sobeski said. “That is what I usually throw.”
Sobeski also pitched with the lead after the first inning. Bronson took a 1-0 advantage as Kelsey Robinson led off with a walk and then came in to score on an error after a sacrifice bunt by Hannah Hoover.
Bronson added four insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Freshman Payton Robinson started the rally with a single. Fellow freshmen Kiana Mayer then reached on an error, and freshman Kaitlyn Czajkowski added another single. Robinson then delivered a two-run single, breaking the game open, and Sobeski later helped her own cause with a two-run single to close out the scoring.
The win was the 18th in a row for Bronson, and the Vikings have outscored their six playoff foes by a 49-1 margin. Montague, making its first Semifinal appearance, finished 22-13.
PHOTOS: (Top) Monroe St. Mary’s Meghan Beaubien prepares to unleash a pitch during Friday’s Semifinal win. (Middle) A Bronson runner crosses the plate safely as the Vikings also earned a shutout in their Semifinal.
The MHSAA and Holly school communities are grieving this week after the sudden loss of Tony Coggins, a shining light in his educational community and an enthusiastic supporter of school sports as a public address announcer for several of our largest championship events.
But while that cheerful tone has been quieted, it surely will not be forgotten by the many fortunate to enjoy an event in the presence of that voice and the joyfulness he brought into every arena, press box and classroom.
Coggins, 51, died Saturday. He is survived by his wife Kristy and children Emma and Bradlee, among several family and friends from his local and greater sports communities.
His career as a PA announcer began during his freshman year of high school in 1985, when his father Dale Coggins – Flushing’s athletic director at the time – couldn’t find anyone else to announce middle school football games. That was 39 years ago, and this fall Tony Coggins was in his 24th announcing at Holly, where he taught and served as an administrator in addition to his role as “Voice of the Holly Bronchos” for football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, competitive cheer and swimming & diving over the years.
Coggins has been a mainstay among MHSAA Finals PA announcers over the last decade in football, basketball, softball and most recently volleyball. He lent his voice to college sports at University of Michigan as well. “Tony was a huge part of our Finals events. It’s hard to imagine it being the same without him,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said.
As part of the run-up to the MHSAA public address announcers clinic in 2018, Coggins said this about what drew him to the microphone:
“I have zero athletic ability whatsoever, which is interesting because my father was an all-state running back. But I enjoy being involved, and I've always been the one for history and statistics and knowing what's going on,” Coggins said. “This is a way for me to be involved. It's a way for me to use a talent I've been given; public speaking has always come pretty naturally for me.
“So I worked at my craft to get better. I got better from watching the people around me, from studying the people I like, and the people – if I saw someone I didn’t care for – I'd make a note and say to myself, ‘Don't do that.’ I take feedback from people very personally, and I mean that in a good way. If somebody takes the time to come up and say, ‘You did this well; I think you should change this,’ that means they care about the program also. We all have the same goal in mind, and that's to make the experience good for the high school student and the parents, the fans, that come there.”
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at St. John Vianney, 2415 Bagley Street in Flint. There will be visitation from 2-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 West Hill Road, and at the church from 10 a.m. Saturday until the time of the Mass.
The Holly volleyball team played for something bigger tonight
Beloved PA announcer Anthony Coggins died on Friday night from a heart attack
— Brandon Green🍀 (@BGreenReports) October 24, 2023