EAST LANSING – Autumn Tubbs swears that “darn it” was as profane as she allowed herself to get.
The Coleman senior shortstop was visibly frustrated with herself after turning out of the way of an inside pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning of a tie game. But one pitch later, none of that mattered.
Tubbs smacked a two-run single providing the only runs in Coleman’s 2-0 win Friday against Rogers City in a MHSAA Division 4 Softball Semifinal at Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium.
“I should have let it hit me, but I didn’t, and it’s fine,” Tubbs said. “(I thought) this is an amazing opportunity for me to be able to hit the only two runs we got in, and get us hyped up to get three outs and end the game.”
Coleman (30-9) advanced to the Division 4 title game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against Centreville. It’s the first trip to the title game since 2005 for the Comets, who won the championship that year.
“We got down to the semis last year, and every year has been another step, so hopefully we can get two steps in one,” Coleman coach Chad Klopf said. “It feels good.”
Coleman needed not just Tubbs’ heroics, but a gem from pitcher Faith Barden and the defense behind her to take this step. Barden struck out 11 batters while allowing three hits and two walks in front of a defense that committed just one error.
“We’ve always been a really good defensive team, and Faith knows that we’re always going to be behind her,” Tubbs said. “Faith’s played with us on travel ball leagues, and she’s always been our pitcher, we’ve always had to back her up. It’s just a nice opportunity to be able to have the opportunity to win a state championship with her on the mound.”
Rogers City (32-6) had just one runner advance to third base, and that came with two outs in the second inning and was immediately followed by a strikeout.
“That’s a good hitting team. That’s all we’ve been told, that they’ve been pounding the ball, scoring runs,” Klopf said. “(Barden) has been lights out for us the past couple weeks. She’s thrown all through the tournament; she’s done a great job. (Assistant coach Allison) McKibbin calling the pitchers for her and Kylie (Herkel) working behind the plate for her have done a great job, and she’s got a great defense that she can trust, and that makes it a lot easier to pitch when you’ve got a great defense.”
Barden had a strong day at the plate, too, with a pair of hits, including one to load the bases before Tubbs came to the plate in the sixth.
“Either way, I told (Tubbs) do what she wants to do,” Klopf said. “She knows this game in and out. She could easily be standing in that third base box someday and getting it done for her team, because she understands it. She knew with the bases loaded that there’s a run right there if she lets it hit her. She’s a solid ball player, she’s hit the ball for us and played well, so I had no problem with her not getting hit because I knew she was probably going to come through with a hit for us.”
Coleman didn’t get many chances to score, as the Rogers City defense made some spectacular plays to keep balls in the infield. The Comets did threaten to score in the bottom of the fourth inning, but the Rogers City defense again came up big. Barden, who opened the inning with a single, had advanced to third on an error and a passed ball. She was thrown out at home, however, when Rogers City perfectly covered a sacrifice bunt attempt. Amanda Wirgau fielded the bunt, threw the runner out at first, then covered the plate and tagged out Barden to keep the game scoreless.
“I thought our defense played outstanding today. We really made some nice plays,” Rogers City coach Karl Grambau said. “We made defensive plays good enough to win the game, but we just couldn’t get the bats going today. You have to credit their pitcher; their pitcher kept us off guard.”
Rogers City sophomore pitcher Kyrsten Altman had a strong game, allowing six hits and striking out one over six innings.
Centreville 4, Unionville-Sebewaing 0
For the first time in school history, Centreville (35-6) will play for an MHSAA softball championship.
A marvelous pitching performance from sophomore Hannah Duchene and some heads-up base running keyed the Bulldogs, who were playing in just the second Semifinal in school history.
“It was what we expected – they’re a tough ball club and they’ve been here before and are much more familiar with this atmosphere,” Centreville coach Scott Logan said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet, I guess. They just keep playing, they keep playing hard and they play relaxed. They want to be here, and that’s a good thing.”
Centreville scored its first two runs on wild pitches, and blew open a tight game in the top of the seventh inning, scoring three insurance runs. The big hit in the inning was an RBI single from Joanna Larsen. Centreville scored one more run on a throwing error on the play.
The Bulldogs also had some defensive brilliance in a key spot. With a runner on second and one out, Centreville second baseman McKenzie Sheteron back-tracked to catch a fly ball in right field, then threw the tagging runner out at third to end the sixth-inning threat.
Duchene held the Patriots hitless through 3 2/3 innings and finished with eight strikeouts while allowing four hits and four walks. USA pitcher Katelyn Engelhardt had two of those four hits. Just one of the runs USA (31-9) allowed was earned.
PHOTOS: (Top) Coleman pitcher Faith Barden unwinds toward the plate during her team’s Division 4 Semifinal win Friday. (Middle) Centerville’s Hannah Duchene prepares to fire a pitch in the Bulldogs’ victory.
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