By Perry A. Farrell
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING – It took coach Howard Stuart 38 years to lead the Richmond High School girls softball team to an MHSAA Finals title.
He was one out away from getting his second against Ida.
The Blue Devils led 3-0 going into the seventh inning of the Division 2 championship game at Michigan State’s Secchia Stadium.
But three runs in the seventh stunned the defending Division 2 champs, and Ida used a four-run ninth inning to take away the title with an 8-4 win.
“That was pretty fantastic to be a part of it,’’ said Bluestreaks coach Dawn Forter, who finished her 14th season. “It has been fantastic to be a part of this since March 12. We had a feeling this group could do this for a long time. They worked together better than any group I’ve seen before. I told them to keep fighting. We’ve been down a lot during the season, and they don’t quit.’’
Ida’s Karlee Lambert led off the ninth inning with a single. She was sacrificed to second and Brooklyn Woelmer, who tied the game with a double in the seventh, singled and Sydney Janssen walked to load the bases.
Taylor Wegener hit a sacrifice fly to score the go-ahead run and Mallorie Duvall, Ashlyn Brososky and Whitney Wegener all hit run-scoring singles to pound the Blue Devils (33-5).
But only a late surge gave Ida (37-7) that extra-inning opportunity to win its first title since 1994.
To start the seventh Whitney Wegener scored on a fielder’s choice play to make it 3-1. With two out and a runner on, Woelmer hit a sinking line drive that got under the glove of the rightfielder and bounded to the wall. Racing around the bases, Woelmer was given a run-scoring double and scored on the two-base error to knot the score at 3-3.
“My coach said just get another hit,’’ said Woelmer. “I couldn’t say I was going to hit it out. Just trying to come through. Thank God. We just kept saying we’re not done yet. Our coach kept saying, why not us? And we agreed. I started bawling after we tied it up. There was hope.’’
In the top of the eighth, Taylor Wegener led off with a single, moved around the bases on a sacrifice and fly out and then scored on a wild pitch. But in the bottom of the eighth, shortstop Carley Barjaktarovich, who took a shot to the face off a bad hop earlier in the game, tripled with one out and beat a throw home to score on a short sacrifice fly and make it 4-4.
Richmond pitcher Erin Shuboy threw a no-hitter as a freshman in last year’s Division 2 championship game, and this year scattered just six hits going into the seventh inning before the Bluestreaks rallied.
“That’s a shame. We had that thing in the bag,’’ said Stuart. “We make a routine play and we keep the lead. Our defense has been great all year. All we have to do is stop the ball and we still have the lead. They had everything in the world going for them after that. They came in hot. You have to worry about hot teams.’’
Richmond put together the first threat of the game in the second inning when Raechel McKiernan singled and Cameron Barrett walked with two out. Ida pitcher Lauren Kreps got out of the jam when she struck out Kennedy Caperton looking.
The Blue Devils were at it again in the third when Barjaktarovich singled and Shuboy walked. Caperton came through with a run scoring single to make it 1-0 as the runners advanced on the throw. Evelyn Swantek followed with a single to make it 2-0, which was all the cushion Shuboy would usually need.
Richmond received a scare when Barjaktarovich took a shot to the face off a bad hop in the top of the fourth inning, but she stayed in the game. Ida put two runners on in the top of fifth, but Shuboy struck out Karlee Lambert and got Hannah Tuller to bounce out to shortstop.
Ida also put two on in the sixth with two out, but Ashley Teltow speared a line drive off the bat of Ashlyn Brososky to keep the Bluestreaks off the board. Richmond scored a run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Thueme.
PHOTOS: (Top) Ida celebrates its nine-inning Division 2 championship game win Saturday morning. (Middle) An Ida hitter connects just in front of Richmond catcher Evelyn Swantek’s extended glove.
Evart was added to the MHSAA softball record book 23 times for achievements during an outstanding three-season run that has included a Division 3 runner-up finish in 2022.
Then-junior Katelyn Gostlin twice was included for hitting streaks, of 26 straight games during the 2022 season and 22 straight this past spring. She also was added for 23 doubles in 2022, and then-senior Addysen Gray was added for 16 doubles in 2023. Ally Theunick was added for 11 home runs this spring and 23 over her first three seasons with one more to play. Gostlin, Theunick and 2021 graduate Ryenn Baumgardner all were added for single-game accomplishments.
Among team record listings, Evart had 405 hits, 419 runs, 85 doubles, 35 home runs and 328 RBI over 39 games this spring. Gostlin has signed with Mid-Michigan College, and Gray is playing softball and basketball there this school year.
See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA softball record book:
Olivia Mikowski followed up her Maple City Glen Lake team’s Division 4 basketball championship in March with a national record this spring on the diamond. She tied the MHSAA and national records with 20 triples, over 35 games, among five record book entries she earned. She also is listed for 74 RBI this past season, while now-junior Jessie Pugh earned a listing with 66 runs scored over 37 games. Mikowski is continuing at Schoolcraft College.
Essexville Garber finished a combined 71-14 over the last two seasons and reached the Division 2 Semifinals in 2022 after winning its first Regional title since 1997, along the way achieving several record book performances for both team and individual lists. The Dukes hit 53 home runs over 41 games this past spring, tying for sixth most as senior Sarah Basket set a program record and made the individual list with 12. Basket also was added for 21 doubles in 2022, with Laney Kokaly making the doubles list that season with 16 and Ella Wagner making it was 16 this past season. Kortney Kotenko set the previous Garber home run record in 2022, making the record book list with 11. All four were seniors in 2023. Kotenko is continuing at Madonna, while Basket is playing at Lawrence Tech and Wagner at Northwood. Kokaly is playing volleyball at Northwood.
Three Rivers and now-senior Ava Forman made the single-season hits list with 75 over 41 games and the single-season doubles list for 22 last spring and also 18 over 40 games as a sophomore. Three Rivers as a team made the records for 423 hits, 101 doubles and 277 RBI over 42 games in 2023.
Armada’s Taylor Capozzo had 19 doubles in 2023 to make that single-season list, plus hit back-to-back home runs in a game against Yale, and Natalie Sauer drove in six runs in a game against Brown City. Capozzo is a sophomore this school year, and Sauer graduated in the spring and is continuing at St. Clair County Community College.
Schoolcraft’s Lauren Evans hit 31 doubles in 2023 as a junior, the second-most in MHSAA history, as the Eagles totaled 118 over 41 games – also the second-most doubles on the team list. Schoolcraft also made record lists for 436 hits and 316 RBI for the season and five home runs in a game against Battle Creek Pennfield (which included back-to-back homers by Evans). Teammate Sydney Drenth, then a sophomore, made the doubles list with 22, and senior Alayna Meade made the same list with 16. Meade is continuing at Cornerstone, and Evans has committed to sign with Saginaw Valley State.
Farmington Hills Mercy finished 29-1 in 2023, earning four record book entries along the way. The Marlins tied for second-fewest runs allowed, giving up only 16. They also made lists for 11 consecutive shutouts, 385 strikeouts and a .435 average and just missed the single-season shutouts list with 23.
Unionville-Sebewaing’s 2022 Division 4 championship season produced another series of record book-worthy accomplishments. As a team, USA set an MHSAA record with 128 doubles over 40 games and was fourth on the team RBI list with 391, while also earning entries with 44 runs scored, 485 hits and 48 home runs. Individually, then-sophomore Gabriella Crumm was added for 80 hits, 21 doubles and 11 home runs, and then-senior Laci Harris was added for 11 home runs as well plus 72 hits, 19 doubles and career totals of 31 home runs, 170 RBI, 170 runs scored and 51 doubles over 123 games despite her sophomore season of 2020 being canceled due to COVID-19. Then-junior Oliva Jubar was added for 18 doubles, and then-sophomore Ella Neumann was added for 17. Harris is continuing her career at Madonna.
Paige Ratliff finished her Battle Creek Lakeview career in the spring with 10 record book entries across a variety of categories. Most notably, she totaled 37 doubles, 30 home runs and a .520 career average over three seasons and 108 games. She’s continuing at Lake Forest College (Ill.).
Hudson then-freshman Taylor Kopin opened her high school career in the spring by scoring 65 runs to make the individual record book. In doing so, she also helped Hudson make the team record book list with 417 runs scored over 39 games.
Haslett’s Payden Whitmore earned her school’s first softball record book entry since 2007 by hitting 12 triples over 38 games in the spring. She’s a junior this school year.
Mancelona has a pair of softball players who reached career lists last season with more to play. Now-senior Ella Jones was added for 20 doubles as a sophomore in 2022 and 19 this spring, and made the career doubles list with 39 and a season to play. Now-junior Ella Schram was added for her 13 triples as a freshman and .650 average this spring, and she’s on the career triples list with 23 and will qualify for the career average list if she keeps hitting at this pace over her next seasons.
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart hit the second-most triples in MHSAA history on the way to the Division 4 Semifinals in the spring. The Irish piled up 48 over 43 games, led by freshman Mairin Wheaton, who hit 12 over 42, respectively.
Reed City made the team record lists with 78 doubles and 252 RBI over 39 games in the spring, and a pair of standouts also were added. Morgan Hammond, then a freshman, and then-sophomore Paityn Enos both were added for single-game RBI, plus Enos was added for 72 hits and 20 doubles and Hammond was added for 22 doubles.
Manton now-junior Adriana Sackett earned her first record book listings in the spring. Twice she hit back-to-back home runs in games, and she also was added for 11 homers total over 26 games.
A trio of Ravenna standouts put up a series of record book-caliber totals over the last two seasons, including some of the highest-ranking all time. Emma Gillard graduated in the spring with nine record book entries, including for 85 runs (fourth most) and 13 triples (tied for 20th) this past season, and she made career lists with 200 runs, 27 triples and a .532 average over 111 games and three years. Emma Herremans is just a junior but has 11 record book listings after two seasons including for 25 doubles (11th-most) as a freshman in 2022 and a .652 average and 73 RBI this past spring, and she’s already on career lists for doubles and triples. Kara Postema graduated this spring with six record book entries, including season and career records for times hit by pitch (23 and 49, respectively), and she also made career lists with 36 doubles and 153 RBI over 111 games and three seasons. Gillard is continuing at Ferris State and Postema at Cornerstone.
PHOTO Evart's Riley Brigham connects during her team's Division 3 Final against Millington in 2022.