D3 Semis: Contenders Survive Comebacks

June 13, 2014

By Kelsey Pence
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Tinner Sharon’s chance at an MHSAA title was slipping through her fingers.

After giving up back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to lose a 4-1 lead, Sharon knocked a hit to left field and rounded the bases at full speed on a fielder’s choice by Sadie Strasser to give Gladstone its lead back.

With an injured ankle, Sharon then retired three in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure a 5-4 win over Coloma (34-10) in the Division 3 Semifinal at Secchia Stadium on Friday.

The senior pitcher was carried off the field as her team celebrated its fourth championship game appearance.

“All season we’ve had this motto of ‘never say die,’ and you never know what can happen in the bottom of the seventh, which was very important to (Coloma) today,” Gladstone coach Ashley Hughes said. “Tinner was struggling with her foot today, but she’s one incredible kid and definitely a leader for us.”

The Braves (29-2) had a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning but scored on a balk to take a three-run lead.

But Coloma coach Wendy Goodline knew her team wasn’t completely out of it with Jenna Faultersack and Lexee Summers coming up.

“The two that got us back into it at the end are two of my hardest working girls,” Goodline said. “I’m not surprised that they were able to do that at all.”

Faultersack smacked a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and Summers followed with a solo blast to left field to tie the score at 4-4.

“It was huge, but we had some solid hits throughout the day too that could have been brought in,” Hughes said of the balk. “The game can go either way, so thankfully everything was in our favor today.”

Sharon was able to score on a throwing error by the Comets to get the winning run.

“We thought about putting a runner on for her, but she got on base in the eighth and looked over and was like ‘Nope. That’s not happening,’” Hughes said. “She is just unbelievable. It takes something unbelievable like that to happen, and she was great for us today.”

Teammate Jess Beaudry agreed.

“She’s one of our quickest people on the field and with her ankle like that, that’s adrenaline, that’s her wanting to win so bad,” Beaudry said.

The Braves scored first in the top of the first inning when Strasser stole home on a missed bunt by Beaudry. They increased the lead to 3-0 when Lexi Hongisto tripled to right field and Beaudry brought her home with a home run to center.

“Nothing has felt better,” Beaudry said. “I can’t even tell you. I didn’t know it was gone at first, but I wanted to get my teammates in and it felt great.”

Coloma’s Katie Scheuer got on base with a hit to center field to start off the bottom of the fourth inning, and Kristin Potter brought her home with a single to right field to make it a two-run game.

Both teams were blanked in the fifth and sixth innings, and it looked like the Braves were going to cruise to the win when Sharon struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh.

“That’s the name of the game,” Beaudry said. “We get some hits, they get some hits. You just have to get that momentum back when they have it.”

Bridget Becker added two hits for the Braves, while Potter tallied two for the Comets.

Sharon struck out seven for the Braves, giving up seven hits and walking four. Coloma pitcher Emily Najacht struck out four, walked two and gave up six hits for the Comets. Click for the full box score.

Unionville-Sebewaing 7, Clinton 5

Rachael Hahn belted a home run to right field in the top of the fourth inning, and Unionville-Sebewaing held off a late rally by Clinton en route to earning a trip to the Division 3 Final.

The Patriots, back in the championship game after finishing runner-up last season, had a 6-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning but saw it vanish quickly when Clinton’s Megan Nelson and Sarah Turner both smacked two-run homers.

“I think that just gave us more momentum,” Hahn said. “It fired us up. We knew those runs were coming; we just had to go out and get them.”

USA’s Kayla Gremel reached on a Clinton error in the top of the seventh inning and Jennifer Winchell brought her home with a double to deep center to give the Patriots some cushion.

Clinton’s Ashleigh Donahey got a base hit to start the inning for the Redskins, but the Patriots retired the next three to book their ticket for Saturday.

“For me, this is my first time being on the field for a state tournament as a senior. So that was really exciting,” Hahn said. “I think we are doing a lot better this year, and I think it’s because we are closer as a team. We’ve just had a lot of great team chemistry.”

Erica Treiber and Stephanie Neuman both had two hits for the Patriots. Treiber struck out 12 and walked just two from the mound in six innings of work. Nicole Bauer picked up the save.

Donahey had two hits for Clinton. Megan Burton took the loss, striking out six, giving up eight hits and walking one in seven innings of work. Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Gladstone’s Tinner Sharon connects during her team’s Division 3 Semifinal win Friday. (Middle) Unionville-Sebewaing’s Madison Zimmer prepares to apply a tag to Clinton runner Caitlyn Schuler in front of third base.

Unionville-Sebewaing Softball Ties Finals Record with 5th-Straight Championship

By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com

June 15, 2024

EAST LANSING – Leave it to standout senior catcher Gabby Crumm to ensure her school’s spot in the state record books.

Unionville-Sebewaing was doing its thing in Saturday’s Division 4 championship game, slowing pulling away from first-time finalist Holton – until Crumm stepped up to the plate in the fourth inning.

Crumm launched one of her signature shots over the centerfield wall, a two-run homer that keyed a six-run inning for the Patriots, who then cruised to an 11-1 victory in six innings at Secchia Stadium.

It was USA’s fifth straight Finals championship, dating back to pre-COVID in 2019, and tying the record for consecutive titles with Kalamazoo Christian, which won five Division 3 titles in a row from 1996 to 2000.

Emma Monette (9) drives a pitch for the Red Devils. “It’s really bittersweet right now,” said Crumm, a four-year starter at catcher who will play at Saginaw Valley State. “USA softball has meant everything to me, and it’s shaped me in so many different ways.

“I’m sad that it’s over, but it couldn’t have ended in a better way.”

USA, which finished 31-11 and was the top-ranked team in Division 4 entering the postseason, showed its experience in the first inning – getting girls on base and putting the pressure on Holton using two hits and two errors to jump out to a 3-0 lead.

The lead would stay that way until the fourth inning, when USA’s tremendous senior class stepped up and put the game away.

Shortstop Ella Neumann ripped a two-run single, which led the Red Devils to change pitchers. Crumm followed up right after Neumann with her long blast over the centerfield wall to effectively put the game out of reach.

“We struggled a little bit in the beginning, but then we cleaned it up,” said 10th-year Holton coach Kirk Younts, whose team did not have an error after the first inning. “They are a great team, and they know how to hit. We tried to mix up our pitching on them, but it just didn’t work.”

Holton (29-13-1), which was playing in its first softball championship game and looking to win the first softball Finals title for a Muskegon County school, managed just three hits against Patriots sophomore Olivia Greene.

Erin Jubar (6) rounds third base while Holton’s infielders await a throw.Greene fooled the Red Devils all game with her rise ball, striking out 10.

Greene also showed her skills at the plate, ending the game with a shot to right-centerfield which actually hit the top of the fence and bounced back into play. Even though it wasn’t a home run, it scored senior Jenna Gremel to give the Patriots a 10-run lead and clinch the title.

Gremel, who with Crumm was a four-year varsity player and four-time champion, finished with two RBIs. Senior leadoff hitter Rylie Benson was 2-for-3, and Neumann had two hits and two RBIs.

USA coach Marc Reinhardt, who finished his second season as head coach but has been around the program for many years, said it never gets old winning a state championship.

“No, it’s always a thrill,” said Reinhardt, who is assisted by Matt Prime, Tommy Betson and Bree Gordon. “I am so glad that this particular group of seniors was able to go out on top. There will be other talented players coming in, but this was a very special group.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) USA teammates welcome Gabriella Crumm (1) after her home run Saturday at Secchia Stadium. (Middle) Emma Monette (9) drives a pitch for the Red Devils. (Below) Erin Jubar (6) rounds third base while Holton’s infielders await a throw.