Constantine Follows Slugger on Fast Start

By Wes Morgan
Special for

May 11, 2017

By Wes Morgan
Special for Second Half

Kim Maddox has an incredible feel for the game of softball. Growing up with significantly impaired hearing, that’s been a necessity.

Maddox, a junior slugger at Constantine High School who set her school’s season home run record in 2016 with 11 bombs, has already blasted 12 through 23 games this spring in playing a major role in the Falcons’ 22-1 record.

With the aid of cochlear implants she’s had since she was a small child, Maddox can hear, but she has to concentrate more than anyone else on the field. That is just one of many traits Constantine coach Marge Caid said sets her third baseman apart.

“She misses some things, but she does pay attention more than the others,” Caid said.

“I just look at the coach all the time,” Maddox said.

Precision and power are what’s obvious about Maddox, not any kind of disability.

“She is physically probably the strongest player I have ever coached. She has great bat speed, and her technique and her form are textbook. She works very, very hard and she is very dedicated to making sure that swing is perfect.”

Maddox fully expected to have this kind of year individually and as a team.

“We have good hitting, and this is a good team together,” she said. “I love my team. I have hitting lessons and I’ve been practicing and practicing. The biggest thing for me is to relax and then attack the ball.”

Like any good squad, success has been predicated on more than just individual talent. Constantine graduated some extremely skilled and productive players at the end of a 2016 campaign that set a record for wins in a season with a 32-6 record. The Falcons went 12-0 in Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley division play.

The loss of starting catcher Dylan King and hurler Bailey Potter to graduation didn’t slow the Falcons down. They have won 10 straight games since their lone loss of the year to a solid Three Rivers team.

Constantine has outscored opponents 247-29 and won by shutout nine times. In all, Constantine boasts five players hitting over .350, while its pitching has been effective and reliable.

Emily Mallo is 9-0 in the circle with a 0.56 ERA, and Mercedes Cole is 13-1 with a 0.66 ERA. The two combined have allowed 75 hits and 11 earned runs.

“We hit the ball well, which is our biggest strong point,” Caid said, “besides having a bunch of players who have been on the varsity team for quite a while.”

Caid hasn’t submitted information to the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association for ranking purposes because she wants to see what her team is really made of down the stretch — which includes the toughest opponents of the year.

“We did play Paw Paw and Three Rivers, but other than that, I can’t justify tooting our horn that much,” she said. “We want to make less base-running mistakes, and a couple fielding things we need to work out.

The Falcons have a critical showdown with rival Schoolcraft today, which will likely determine the divisional championship. Schoolcraft is undefeated in Valley play after Monday’s pivotal sweep of Kalamazoo Christian. Both Schoolcraft and Constantine are 8-0.

“The rest of our season is going to be tough,” Caid said. “If we can’t play with these guys, then we’re going to be up a creek when it comes to Districts. We have to play ball and choke it out like we did last year.”

Constantine’s tremendous season in 2016 fizzled out with a Division 3 District Semifinal loss to Bridgman (9-1). This year, the District tournament includes familiar opponents in Galesburg-Augusta, Comstock, Kalamazoo Hackett, Schoolcraft and Parchment.

It certainly has taken a team effort to come back strong again this year and duplicate last year’s regular-season success.

Still, Maddox’s staggering numbers stand out in the crowd, especially considering she has another year of prep ball remaining. Maddox is hitting .589, which isn’t even the best average on the team. Kallie Sears, with 42 hits on the year, is operating at a .592 clip. Maddox was hovering around .700 before struggling at the plate this past weekend.

In 86 plate appearances, she has registered 43 total hits to lead the team. Of those, seven were doubles and three went for triples. She has 53 runs batted in so far and 38 runs scored. She also had a .640 on-base percentage and a 1.260 slugging percentage. Surprisingly, Maddox has been walked just 10 times.

“I hate being walked,” she said.

Wes Morgan has reported for the Kalamazoo Gazette, ESPN and, 247Sports and Blue & Gold Illustrated over the last 12 years and is the publisher of He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Constantine players celebrate as Kim Maddox (15) crosses the plate to score a run. (Middle) Maddox eyes an approaching pitch during a game this spring. (Photos courtesy of

Owosso Ace's Strikeout Total Stacks Up with State's All-Time Best

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

January 4, 2023

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.