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 ESPNChicago.com, 247Sports and Blue & Gold Illustrated over the last 12 years and is the publisher of JoeInsider.com. 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 JoeInsider.com.)
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