Coleman, Centreville Post Semis Shutouts

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

June 15, 2018

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.

Click for the full box score.

VIDEO: Coleman's Autumn Tubbs had this two-run single in the sixth inning to give the Comets a 2-0 lead.

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.

Click for the full box score.

VIDEO: Centreville's last two runs against Unionville-Sebewaing came on a wild play. Joanna Larsen singles to drive in MaKenzi Troyer, and McKenzie Sheteron would also score on the play on an error.

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.

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.)