D4 Finalists Step Closer to Long-Awaited Title

June 16, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

EAST LANSING – Over the last two seasons, Indian River Inland Lakes has emerged from its cozy spot tucked 30 miles south of Mackinac Bridge to join the elite of Michigan high school softball.

On Thursday, the top-ranked Bulldogs downed seven-time title winner Kalamazoo Christian in a Division 4 Semifinal to earn another chance at bringing home the school's first MHSAA championship trophy in any sport since 1979.

Returning its entire hitting lineup from last season’s Finals loss to Unionville-Sebewaing, Inland Lakes slugged its way to a 9-0 victory at Secchia Stadium. The Bulldogs will face No. 8 Ottawa Lake Whiteford at 3 p.m. Saturday with that first title on the line – hoping to follow the girls track & field team that won Inland Lakes’ first and only MHSAA championship in 1979.

“It just shows all of the hard work we’ve put in. Our main group has been together eight, nine years,” Bulldogs senior pitcher Cloe Mallory said. “The family we have in our community, it just really shows.

“There’s so many people talking it up. We’ve just got to stay very humble about it. In northern Michigan, it’s hard to get all these great girls all in the same program, the same years. I’ve been very lucky to have this great group of girls with me throughout my high school career.”

And they’ve been fortunate to have her in the circle, especially over the last two.

In two games at Secchia last season, Mallory threw all 14 innings, giving up one run and eight hits while striking out 17. She returned to Michigan State on Thursday with another shutout, striking out nine while giving up only four hits in going the distance.

And Inland Lakes’ bats have been just as punishing. The nine-run performance took the Bulldogs’ overall postseason score to a combined 84-3 against seven playoff opponents. 

Five batters had at least two hits Thursday; junior third baseman Madison Milner and junior centerfielder Makayla Henckel hit home runs, and junior leftfielder Sydney DePauw was 3 for 4. Milner, Mallory, senior catcher Pamela Braund and senior shortstop Vanessa Wandrie all had two hits, and Wandrie and Milner both drive in two runs. 

Inland Lakes (34-5) jumped out to a 3-0 lead during the top of the first inning and pushed the game further out of reach on Milner’s two-run homer in the fifth.

“That’s the way the girls have been all season. They know they have to jump out early and put the bats to work,” Bulldogs coach Krissi Thompson said. “Like I’ve said all season, my favorite part is watching them hit.”

Kalamazoo Christian was playing in its fourth Semifinal in five seasons and finished 23-18.

Click for the full box score.

Ottawa Lake Whiteford 6, Coleman 1 

A proud and successful Whiteford program has been waiting to get back to the MHSAA Finals.

The Bobcats will play in their first title game since 1994, aiming for their first championship since 1987 and fourth overall under 39-season coach Kris Hubbard.

One of only three seniors, centerfielder Erin Manley played a major role in booking that return. Manley drove two home runs – sandwiched, unexpectedly, around a sacrifice bunt – and brought in four runs.

“The past few games haven’t been so good,” Manley said of her hitting, “but my teammates have just been pumping me up. They’re telling me to get a base hit, and that’s what I tried to do.

“Everybody on the team is talking me up, making sure I’m watching (the pitch) all the way through, helping me on the tees and throwing me extra balls in practice, and that’s what really helped.”

Whiteford (33-6) scored three runs in the first inning on Manley’s first homer. After Coleman came back with a run in the second, Whiteford sophomore pitcher Lindsey Walker didn’t allow another hit until the seventh inning.

She finished with nine strikeouts, giving up three hits total. Sophomore shortstop Karyn Berns-Moore had two hits including a triple and scored two runs, while sophomore third baseman Baylee Baldwin also had two hits and scored and Walker drove in two runs.

Junior shortstop Autumn Tubbs had hits in both of her at bats and scored the lone run for No. 5 Coleman (35-7), which was making a second straight Semifinal appearance.

The win was quite a follow-up after Whiteford downed reigning champion and No. 2-ranked Unionville-Sebewaing in Tuesday’s Quarterfinal – and after losing to USA in the Quarterfinal a year ago. 

“I think it’s our attitude, effort, every single day on and off the field that makes us good,” Manley said. “Last year we didn’t have any seniors; it was six freshmen and three juniors, and that was our team. We knew we had a good team, and we lost in the Quarterfinals. The goal was to get to state championships this year, and that’s what we’ve been working for.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Indian River Inland Lakes greets Madison Milner after her home run Friday. (Middle) Ottawa Lake Whiteford celebrates one of Erin Manley's homers in its Division 4 Semifinal.

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

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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.