D4 Semis: 2013 Foes Set to Meet Again
June 13, 2014
By Kelsey Pence
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING – Rebekah VanDam knows opponents are aiming for Kalamazoo Christian.
The senior pitcher let everyone know that wasn’t going to scare her team Friday afternoon as the Comets booked their second straight trip to the MHSAA Division 4 Final with a 6-1 win over Vestaburg (27-9) at Secchia Stadium at Michigan State University.
“Everyone is out to get us, but we are here,” VanDam said after Kalamazoo Christian's Semifinal win. “We are ready to play and beat whoever we got.”
VanDam gave up just four hits, striking out 12, walking one and giving up just one run, the first run of the postseason for the defending champs.
The Comets (28-16) – who will face Rogers City in Saturday’s championship game – scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning on two Vestaburg errors, but added to that significantly in the third inning.
Morgan Locker singled to start the rally, and Tori Sides helped the cause with a hit to left-center. The Wolverines got the first out on a fielder’s choice by Kara Gjeltema. But VanDam followed up with a fielder’s choice that moved the runners ahead; Locker was able to avoid the tag at home plate to make the score 3-0.
Two batters later McKena Razenberg ran out an infield single, bringing up freshman Aliyah Lemmer with the bases full. She just missed a grand slam, smacking a three-run double to left field that put Kalamazoo Christian up 6-0.
“It never happens for me. I was so excited,” Lemmer said. “I just wanted to help my team and make a difference.
“It was really important for us to get some momentum,” she added. “Everyone was nervous we would get down, but we all really knew we could do it, and everyone was just pumping each other up. Our team gets pumped up easily, and that’s what I love about them.”
Karigan Gates was about a quarter inch from a home run for Vestaburg, smacking one to left -enter field in the top of the fourth that bounced off the fence and back in to fair territory. Akisha Benavidez brought Gates home with a single to center field that made the score 6-1.
Both teams were blanked the rest of the way.
“It was timely hitting, but they did give us some errors out there that gave us some base runners,” Kalamazoo coach Terry Reynolds said. “We got a couple nice hits. That’s what we do. It seems if we get a key hit, it seems we get them in clusters. I thought today it would be one at a time and we were prepared for a small game, but it was good we were able to capitalize.”
The Comets have seven MHSAA softball titles and two runner-up finishes. Reynolds is hoping to add another in his first year as coach.
“Taking over there is a little bit of pressure,” Reynolds said with a laugh. “Everyone expects me to win. The girls have come back and worked hard. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Reynolds also talked about his senior pitcher.
“Rebekah has really worked hard this year,” he said. “She has changed physically and mentally. Her and I seem to be on the same page quite a bit. She has four pitches that work, and we used every one of them today. She pitched a heck of a game.”
Gates had two hits for the Wolverines (27-9) and scored their lone run.
“Everybody really wanted this,” Vestaburg coach Dan Rons said. “I love this because it really brings the community together. Mostly I am proud of how they didn’t turn on each other when someone made a mistake.
“I got a little rough on them in the fourth inning because I didn’t feel like we were playing good ball. But my team, after I had chewed everybody out, they went around and said don’t worry about it. I liked the way they came together and took care of each other.”
Rogers City 11, Fowler 1
Regular-season redemption isn’t enough for Morgan Hall.
Kalamazoo Christian beat Rogers City 2-0 in the Division 4 Semifinals last year, and the Hurons avenged that loss earlier this spring with an 8-4 win over the Comets in a tournament.
But there’s still a bittersweet taste in Hall’s mouth.
Rogers City (33-6) is one game away from an MHSAA title after beating Fowler 11-1 in five quick innings Friday.
“Everybody kind of wants redemption,” Hall said of Kalamazoo Christian. “It was nice beating them the first time, but this is the spot that we want to beat them, in Finals again. As long as we keep our heads on and make the plays, I think we can do it.”
The Eagles (26-7) and Hurons were tied 1-1 after two and a half innings, but Rogers opened the lead in the bottom of the third and fourth innings scoring five runs in each.
Cassie Brege singled to get things started in the third and Logan Fleming was hit by pitch. Courtney Streich loaded the bases with a bunt, and Sarah Meredith smacked a two-run single to left field to make it 3-1.
Morgan Hall was up next and brought another teammate home with a single. Rachel Chojancki walked to score another, and Brege’s fielder’s choice made it 6-1.
“We actually didn’t know anything about Fowler,” Hall said. “They were the underdogs coming in unranked, we didn’t know any of their stats or anything. Nobody knew what to expect. When we got here our coach did a little bit of digging around, but we just came out and played our game and thankfully did as well as we did.”
The Hurons put up five more runs in the fourth inning and held the Eagles scoreless in the top of the fifth to make it a short day.
Hall finished 3 for 3 with three RBI and two runs scored, while Brege and Meredith also added two hits each. Brege added three RBI and a run scored and Meredith scored two runs and tallied two RBI.
Kayla Schafer and Brianna Schmitt each had two hits for Fowler.
“This is surreal right now,” Hall said. “Since freshman year this has always been the dream. We’ve been so close especially these last three years. Last year we just fell short in our first game. The worst that we can be is second place, and that is just surreal. Everyone is thrilled with that.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Kalamazoo Christian catcher Kara Gjeltema fires a throw during her team’s Semifinal win Friday. (Middle) Rogers City’s Kayla Fleury (3) and Courtney Streich (9) celebrate Saturday during their win over Fowler.
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.