Aces Shine for Monroe St. Mary, Bronson

June 12, 2015

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.

Click for the box score.

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.

Click for the box score.       

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.

Grass Lake Slugger Turner Writing Name All Over MHSAA Record Book

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

May 7, 2024

Bill and Julia Turner have not only put in a lot of miles on the road, but they’ve also put a lot of miles in on the softball field.

Greater DetroitBefore Olivia Turner was hitting the cover off the ball and becoming Michigan’s career RBI leader for the Grass Lake softball team, Bill and Julia were taking her to the field for batting practice.

“I always wanted to go to the field, and my dad would take me and my mom would shag balls in the outfield,” Olivia said. “They’ve spent countless hours, especially traveling around the country. They’ve been my biggest support system. They are awesome.”

Her Warriors teammates are grateful, too. Last week Turner became Michigan’s all-time leader in runs batted in, surpassing Taylor Light & Life Christian’s Kelly Kennedy, who held the record with 304 RBIs from 1991-94.

“It was crazy to think I beat a 30-year-old record,” Turner said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. I’m just super thankful.”

Having her name on the state record book for softball is nothing new to Turner. She barely missed the state mark for RBIs in a season last year when she had 102 and is the state’s all-time career doubles leader already.

Grass Lake head coach Roger Cook said Turner never talks about hitting home runs or driving in runs – just about being a teammate.

“I’m going to tell you, she’s one of the most modest people you’ll ever talk to,” Cook said. “She just talks team, team, team. She always has since I’ve known her. She has never said one thing about a home run or a base hit.”

Turner, who plays third base, has been around the Grass Lake program for a long time. When her sister Madeline was playing for the Warriors before heading off to play at Findlay University in Ohio, Olivia would tag along.

“I just wanted to be at the field, be around softball,” she said.

Turner first picked up the game when she was on an 8-and-under team.

“I fell in love with it,” she said.

Turner will graduate this spring with multiple MHSAA records.She started as a pitcher, but quickly converted to infielder, where she has played with Grass Lake and various travel teams. She also plays volleyball and basketball for Grass Lake, but softball is her sport.

“We’re all one family,” she said. “I love that you get to play with girls that you may not be friends with at school. It shows you who you are. Softball gives you a lot of life lessons – dedication, teamwork, how to work with others.”

She loves to hit, too.

“Every at-bat, even if there is no one on base, I want to get on base,” she said. “I’m always going up to the plate doing it for my team, not for myself. The RBIs are pretty cool. My team gets on base for me. All of the girls are phenomenal.”

Cook said he sometimes gets worried that opponents will just pitch around Turner. But because of who is in the lineup in front of and behind her, he doesn’t have to worry about that.

“We have Rylee Fitzpatrick, Emily Brown, then Olivia,” Cook said. “After Olivia we have (junior) Bree Salts, who has committed to Central Michigan. It’s hard to pitch around her. When we get to some of these big games, teams will have to throw to her.”

Last year’s Division 3 runner-up Ottawa Lake Whiteford has faced Grass Lake multiple times over the past couple of seasons, and coach Matt VanBrandt is plenty familiar with the damage Turner can do.

"You'd better have a plan when you are pitching to her,” VanBrandt said. “She’s a dangerous hitter. She’s someone you need to think about before the game starts.”

Turner hit .714 last season with 30 doubles and those 102 runs batted in. For her career, she’s belted 48 home runs and knocked in 309 runs after Saturday’s tournament. She’s never hit below .535 for a season and is nearing 100 career doubles.

Grass Lake currently is 22-1 and leading the Cascades Conference.

“It’s crazy to think I am actually a senior now,” Turner said. “Now that it is my senior year, I just want to work hard and play for my team. We’ve had great seniors the last couple of years. It’s crazy to think this is my last season.”

Turner will attend Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. She chose Bradley because of its nursing program.

“Academics has always been first for me,” she said. “I fell in love with the campus. It’s not too big or too small. The staff there is great.”

Before taking her swing to college, Grass Lake wants to make a deep tournament run this season. And the more games the Warriors play, the more RBIs Turner is likely to add to her record.

“Olivia has one of the smoothest, most beautiful swings I’ve ever seen,” Cook said. “She’s one of the girls you want up there at bat with the game on the line. She can do it all. If you need a single, she’ll get you a single. If you need a walk-off, she can do that, too.”

Doug DonnellyDoug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Grass Lake’s Olivia Turner focuses on a pitch coming her way. (Middle) Turner will graduate this spring with multiple MHSAA records. (Photos courtesy of Pictures by Marisa and the Grass Lake softball program.)