Down to Last Out, Ida Rallies to Win D2

June 17, 2017

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.

Click for the full box score.

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.

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

By Tom Kendra
Special for

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.