By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
BATTLE CREEK – Dansville catcher Rebekah Guy waited four years for Friday’s tears of joy, and through two Semifinals losses when the tears were sorrowful.
She first played at Bailey Park as a freshman, and returned with the Aggies as a sophomore. Both times, her teams lost. But both times, she and now-seniors Addie Price and Alison Schlicker picked up a little bit more knowledge to use if they got a chance to come back.
And if those three think they’ve had a while to wait, their coach Mick Ream pointed out Friday that he’s been waiting 31 years to coach his team in an MHSAA championship game.
The No. 9 Aggies earned that opportunity with a 4-3 win Friday over No. 3 Rapid River.
“It means everything, honestly. This team is so awesome, they’ve worked so hard, and I just wanted to win this for them,” Guy said. “I couldn’t ask for more for my senior year.”
Dansville will face two-time reigning champion and top-ranked Petersburg-Summerfield in Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. Final.
The seniors certainly did their part Friday. Guy and Price both drove in runs, and Schlicker singled and her pinch runner scored. All of this happened after Rapid River (35-6) opened with three runs in the top of the first inning. But Guy came through big at the end as well, guiding sophomore pitcher Meagan Kelly through the final out after the Rockets put two runners on with two outs in the seventh.
“We’re here. Champions find a way to win,” Ream said. “That’s what we’ve said all year long. And it happened again.”
Guy’s calm was a characteristic Ream said has come to his team because of its three trips to Battle Creek. And she said there’s a lot more confidence too – despite Saturday’s daunting opponent.
“We knew we could beat (Rapid River). We’re an awesome team,” she said. “We know if we can hit the ball we can beat any team, honestly. The girls have worked so hard, and I’m so proud of them.”
Kelly struck out three and gave up six hits for the Aggies (30-5). Senior Heather Sanderson struck out nine and gave up only two earned runs for Rapid River, and also had two hits, scored a run and drove in another. Click for a full box score.
Petersburg-Summerfield 9, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 7 (9 innings)
The Bulldogs (34-3) nearly lost out on their chance to return to the Final, but scored five runs in the top of the ninth. The Irish (31-8) came back with only one in the bottom of the inning.
Sacred Heart scored in the bottom of the seventh inning to knot the score 3-3 and push the game to extras. Sophomore shortstop Sara Hansen had three hits and scored twice, and junior catcher Elizabeth Albaugh drove in two runs.
Senior pitcher Emily Puterbaugh gave up only one earned run in throwing all nine innings for the Bulldogs. Senior first baseman Kysha LaMonde had three hits, an RBI and scored a run. Click for a full box score.
PHOTOS: (Top) Dansville catcher Rebekah Guy played in her third Semifinal on Friday. (Middle) Petersburg-Summerfield pitcher Emily Puterbaugh threw all nine innings in her team's win over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.
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