Allen Park's Return to Finals Weekend Ends with 1st-Time Celebration

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

June 18, 2022

EAST LANSING – Allen Park senior Madilyn Ramey remembers the walk to the Old College Field awards area last year following a disappointing loss in the Division 1 Softball Final to South Lyon.

Ramey and her teammates took the same path this season. But this time, they enjoyed a much different emotion.

Second-ranked Allen Park won the program’s first Division 1 Final on Saturday after blanking Macomb Dakota 5-0 at Secchia Stadium.

“Last year, that same walk we just had was a different type of feeling,” said Ramey, who had a home run and a pair of outstanding defensive plays in her team’s championship game return.

“Now that we came back here, we rewrote the story and it just feels amazing.” 

Ramey, who will play at the University of Michigan, was one of eight starters back from last year.

“That was our main focus, and we really wanted to get here again,” she said. “It was just nice to execute today, and we really fed off each other’s energy. That’s what it has been about these last few games. Our energy has kept us in the game.”

Allen Park coach Michael Kish, whose team finished 38-4-1, said his team was determined to return to the Final and avenge last season’s loss.

“Three hundred and 65 days of motivation,” he said. “Six a.m. workouts, we had 12-hour days and we did everything we could. That was my thing. I know the more you invest, the more it’s going to be worth it.

“We knew we had the talent; that wasn’t the issue. It was more of the confidence and the family aspect.”  

In the third inning, Allen Park snared the early momentum.

Dakota/Allen Park softballAfter a leadoff single by senior Madison Hool and a sacrifice bunt, freshman Kiley Carr tripled over the right fielder’s head to give the Jaguars a 1-0 lead.

Carr would score to make it 2-0 after a Dakota fielding error off the bat of Makalya Sitarski.

A squeeze bunt by Avery Garden sent Sitarski home, and it was 3-0.

“That inning was huge, and it’s momentum,” Kish said. “Before the game we were loose, and we’ve been here before. They had the nerves, and we knew if we got on them early it would be tough for them to come back.”

In the sixth inning, senior Madilyn Ramey slugged a solo home run and the lead expanded to 4-0.

“It felt amazing,” Ramey said. “I hit one last year here. My first at bat I struck out and I just had to reset, and it felt great to get that.”

Kish had high praise for Ramey’s overall play.

“She’s a gamer, she’s a competitor and she plays the game like a 10-year-old girl that just fell in love with the game,” Kish said. 

Allen Park tacked on one more in the top of the seventh inning. Another sacrifice bunt from Garden scored Faith Peschke, who led off the inning with a walk.

Third-ranked Dakota (32-5), which won the Division 1 title in 2017, outhit the Jaguars 5-4, but couldn’t get any timely ones off Allen Park senior pitcher Morgan Sizemore and a stellar defense. 

“That’s a really good team over there,” Cougars coach Dan Vitale said. “They are well coached and their shortstop … we know why she’s committed to Michigan. She made some great plays against us and stole some hits from us.

“We weren’t expected to get this far, and we did, so we’re really proud of our kids. We plan on being here next year.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Madilyn Ramey’s teammates welcome her at the plate after a sixth-inning home run Saturday at Secchia Stadium. (Middle) An Allen Park runner gets back to third base as Dakota’s Gracie Maloney takes a throw.

In Memoriam: Tony Coggins (1971-2023)

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

October 24, 2023

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.

Tony CogginsHis 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.