EAST LANSING – Wendy Goodline hadn’t given up hope Saturday with her Coloma softball team trailing by four runs after five innings.
But she had started to reflect on how good her team’s season had been, win or lose.
After her Comets rallied for six runs over the final two innings to defeat Millington 7-6 and claim the school’s first-ever MHSAA Division 3 softball title, however, those thoughts went out the window.
“I’ll be honest, I was in the dugout thinking, ‘Win or lose, I’m proud of these girls, they played well, they hit the ball, they didn’t have any errors, they earned it,’” said Goodline, who is in her 19th season as Coloma coach. “Then we came back, and I forgot everything I said in the dugout.
"I’ve gotten a lot of Facebook things from former players, and it’s all because of them. These kids have seen those other teams compete and work hard and do what they have to do to be good. Softball doesn’t just begin in March in Coloma, and the players before them are what made this happen. I can’t emphasize that enough.”
The game featured the top two ranked teams in Division 3, and it showed, as they combined to both come up with huge hits, while also featuring spectacular pitching performances for stretches.
“I thought Coloma was a very good team,” Millington coach Greg Hudie said. “I felt like we were better, but we didn’t capitalize like we should have, and it bit us.”
Millington junior pitcher Gabbie Sherman put in a solid performance, striking out four batters and allowing just four earned runs. During one stretch from the end of the first inning through the fifth, she retired 14 straight Coloma hitters.
Coloma, meanwhile, used both of its pitchers, as Goodline started Jaidyn Hutsell, brought in Skylar Crisenberry to spell her in the fourth inning, and went back to Hutsell to close the game out in the seventh.
“We both bring different tools to the table, and we both rely on each other,” Crisenberry said. “I have so much confidence in her, and I think that’s how we switch in and out all the time, just having confidence in her. I would never be upset. I just wanted to win, and I knew Jaidyn had the tools to come in again and finish it off.”
Hutsell entered the seventh inning with a one-run lead and a runner on first base, but struck out the first two batters she faced. After a two-out single from Darrien Roberts, the Comets (38-3) intentionally walked Leah Denome, who had already tied a championship game record with four hits. The strategy worked, as Hutsell was able to force a groundout to shortstop Megan Koeningshof to end the game.
“I was very excited going back in,” said Hutsell, who had a pair of doubles at the plate. “Skylar did a great job keeping everything under control and not having any runners score, and I just came in and was confident.”
Crisenberry had pitched out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth inning to keep the Comets in the game and set up the final rally. After loading the bases, she followed up a strikeout with a popout and flyout to keep her team within four runs.
In the sixth, Coloma was able to make some contact against Sherman and capitalized. Hannah Mathis scored on an error, Hutsell smashed a double to centerfield to drive in Kayla Yore, and Morgan Taylor scored on a sacrifice fly from Mya Potter to pull the Comets to within one of the lead.
Sydney Bishop’s RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring Denome, gave Millington (39-3) an insurance run heading into the final frame.
It wasn’t enough, however, as the Comets strung together three straight hits to start the seventh, and pulled to within one again when Megan Neubecker scored after a ball was bobbled in left field. Yore drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly, and Wagner drove in the go-ahead run with a double to center.
“Megan Neubecker was the leadoff hitter, and I told one of my assistants, ‘You talk to her,’” Goodline said. “She’s a sophomore, she was nervous, she hasn’t been hitting real well – she hit well early in the season, then kind of hit a lull here – so I said, ‘You’ve got her, you talk to her.’ That hit was huge. It started it all.”
Hutsell had started the scoring in the game, driving in Koeningshof with a double in the first inning. Millington tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the third inning, when Roberts, who had tripled in the previous at-bat, scored on an infield single by Denome.
In the fourth, the Cardinals used a two-out rally to take control of the game, as an RBI single by Roberts was followed by a two-run triple by Denome. Her triple was the third of the game for Millington, an all-division championship game record.
That forced the first pitching change for the Comets, but the Cardinals managed another run as Denome scored on a wild pitch to make the score 5-1.
Hutsell finished the game with six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings, while Crisenberry struck out two in 2 1/3.
Denome had three RBI for the Cardinals, while Roberts had three hits and one RBI, and McKenna Slough and Sabrina Gates each had two hits. Gates had one of the Cardinals’ three triples.
Millington, which entered the postseason ranked No. 1, could bring every player back next year, as there was not a senior on the roster.
“We haven’t really talked yet, but I just told them that this is still a huge honor, and to get some pictures with the trophy – I know they probably don’t want to,” Hudie said. “It’s a huge honor even to be runner-up, so I told them to make sure they don’t pass this moment up.”
PHOTOS: Coloma players hoist their championship trophy during the Division 3 awards presentation Saturday. (Middle) Coloma’s Jaidyn Hutsell turns on a pitch.
Owosso’s Macy Irelan earned 11 entries in the MHSAA record book over her three-year varsity career that came to a close last spring, most notably with her 1,157 strikeouts despite the 2020 season being canceled due to COVID-19.
Irelan’s career strikeouts were the second-most in the state since the pitching distance was lengthened three feet in 2011. She finished 31-7 last spring with a 1.43 ERA and 414 strikeouts in 229 2/3 innings in earning the Miss Softball Award for pitching.
She also hit .551 with 21 doubles last season, and her 55 career doubles over 117 games and three seasons made that category career list. She’s continuing her career at Kent State.
See below for more recent additions to the softball record book:
Unionville-Sebewaing’s dominating run to the 2021 Division 4 championship was filled with seven record book-worthy highlights, including many near the top of all-time lists. In going 40-3, the Patriots tied their season record for wins for the second time. Their 502 runs scored ranked third all-time, with their 493 hits tied for ninth, their 114 doubles second, their 49 home runs also tied for ninth, their 431 RBI also second and their 503 strikeouts thrown ranking third. Senior Brynn Polega completed her career with 13 record book entries despite her junior season being canceled because of COVID-19; she added listings for 71 runs, 79 hits, a third-best 28 doubles, 11 homers, 70 RBI, four perfect games pitching and 365 strikeouts, among others. Then-junior Laci Harris made lists with 77 runs, 83 hits, 22 doubles, 14 homers and 78 RBI, while then-junior Macy Reinhardt was added for 78 runs and then-freshman Gabriella Crumm was added for 16 doubles. Polega, Harris and Reinhardt also posted entries for single-game accomplishments. Polega is playing at Northwood and Harris at Madonna.
Big Rapids set a school record for wins in 2021 in finishing 34-7, a run which included a number of accomplishments that reached the record book. The Cardinals scored 439 runs – tied for 12th on that list – and also as a team were added for 428 hits, 82 doubles and 363 RBI, which tied for 10th all-time. Marissa Warren made the individual hits list with 71, while Hanna Smith earned an entry with 20 doubles and Rylie Haist followed with 19. Josie Cornell was added with 40 walks drawn. Warren, Smith and Haist were added for single-game accomplishments as well, as was Madison Affer from a 2019 game. Haist, Smith and Cornell are seniors this school year, and Warren is a junior. Smith has signed with Ferris State.
A pair of Bad Axe standouts earned record book entries in 2021 with their work at the plate. Haley Newland made the single-season doubles list with 19, and Brooke Messing was added for seven RBI in a game that saw her hit a grand slam and three-run homer. Newland graduated last spring and Messing is a senior this school year.
Montrose then-freshman Lainey Cannon made two record book lists with her performance April 25 against Montrose. She hit three home runs to make the single-game list in that category, and also made the single-game RBI list with eight.
Capac then-sophomore Madalyn Roberson made the record book three times with her performance May 9 against Brown City. She hit two home runs in back-to-back at bats, both during the fifth inning, and also drove in six runs for the game.
Spring Lake standouts now fill the record book after the addition of 55 individual and 23 team entries dating back to the 2000 season. Among listings ranking highest in their respective categories were Madelyn Nelson’s 81 runs in 2018, which tied for seventh all-time; Nelson’s 250 career runs from 2015-18) that rank seventh and Lauren Hellman’s 249 career runs also from 2015-18 that rank eighth on that list; Nelson’s 84 hits in 2018 that are tied for 12th-most all-time and her 264 career hits that rank 11th, Leah Vaughan’s 26 doubles in 2019 that rank seventh, Evie Lorimer’s 16 triples in 2011 that are tied for eighth and her 37 career triples from 2010-12 that are ranked fourth, Vaughan’s 23 career times being hit by pitch from 2016-19 which rank second, and Lorimer’s 92 stolen bases in 2012 that rank second (with all 92 coming consecutively to tie for fifth on that list) and 183 career steals that rank 11th. As a team, Spring Lake in 2017 ranked seventh all-time with 501 hits over 42 games, fourth with 109 doubles and eighth with 34 triples. The 2018 team ranks 11th with 441 runs scored over 41 games, 10th with 497 hits and tied for ninth with 100 doubles. Valerie Alter, Linsey Paggeot, Jenna Core, Molly Poole, Alicia Mumby, Leah Anton, Ann Marie Galloway and Rachael Adams also earned individual entries. Nelson went on to play at Grand Valley State, Vaughan plays at Aquinas College, Lorimer played at Central Michigan, Alter played at Jacksonville University (Fla.), Poole plays at Cornerstone University and Mumby played at Lansing Community College. Core plays volleyball at Hope College.
Freeland’s offense earned five record book entries during the team’s 26-12 season in 2022, including for 412 runs scored, 442 hits, 78 doubles, 336 RBI and a .400 team batting average. Three individuals also earned entries – sophomore Addie Steffen for a 20-game hitting streak and seven RBI in a game, junior Evelynn Rybicki for six RBI in a game and freshman Brynn Jaime for getting hit by a pitch twice in the same inning.
Chloe Parker hit .604 last spring and made the records with 20 doubles over 33 games for Niles Brandywine. She’s a junior this school year.
A series of record book entries were added for past and present Zeeland West standouts. Carly Sleeman was added for 73 runs, 75 hits, 27 doubles and 12 home runs in 2021 as a sophomore, while Lily Brower was added for 72 runs, 17 triples and 11 homers, plus 38 doubles and 29 triples over a four-year varsity career. Sleeman’s 27 doubles are tied for fifth-most in one season, and Brower’s 17 triples are tied for fourth on that list. Haley Hoogenraad was added for 70 hits and 17 doubles as a junior in 2015, 19 doubles as a senior, and 49 doubles and 24 triples over her four-year career from 2013-16. Kenzie Siersma was added for 17 doubles in 2017 and 54 over her career from 2016-19, while Courtney Sleeman made the season home runs list with 15 in 2015 and Sarah VanValkenburg made the career RBI list with 152 from 2014-17. Emily Brands was added for hitting consecutive home runs in the same inning, May 7 against Reese; she graduated this spring. Hoogenraad went on to play at University of Michigan, Courtney Sleeman played at Western Michigan, Siersma plays at West Virginia Tech, Brower played last season at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and Carly Sleeman has signed with Central Michigan.
PHOTO Owosso’s Macy Irelan unloads a pitch during the 2021 Division 2 Final.