Evart Overcomes Early Deficit, Millington Comes Back Late to Set Up D3 Finale

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

June 17, 2022

EAST LANSING – Its hopes of playing for another state championship were dwindling as the Millington softball team was down to its last strike in Friday morning’s first Division 3 Semifinal.

However, two big swings changed the Cardinals’ fate and paved the way to an improbable finish.

Top-ranked Millington rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull out a dramatic 4-3 win over Algonac at Secchia Stadium. 

Senior Leah Coleman’s two-out double scored Ashley Ziel for the game-winning run to stun the Muskrats.

“I knew we could come through,” Coleman said. “We’re a family, we play for each other and I knew when Ashley got on base that I could score her in that position.”

Ziel, a senior pitcher who struck out eight, tied the game with two outs and with her team trailing 3-1. She drilled a 0-2 pitch to the wall to score Shannon Ziel and Emma Dickie.

“We always train to be in these situations, and you never know when you are going to be in it,” Ziel said. “I just thought that I had to get on base, I have to win this for my team.

“I saw that pitch coming and I just took a swing at it, and I saw it go to the fence and I thought, we’re tied. I knew Leah was going to pull through, and I knew right when we scored that we were going to win that game.” 

Millington (35-3) will face Evart in Saturday’s 3 p.m. Division 3 Final.

The Wildcats defeated Grandville Calvin Christian 6-1 in the other Semifinal and will seek their first Finals title.

Millington won Division 3 in 2019 and was runner-up in 2018. 

Algonac (33-4) took the early lead when junior slugger Ella Stephenson homered to left center in the top of the first inning. It was her 17th of the season.

The Muskrats increased their lead in the top of the sixth. Sierra Vosler opened the inning with a triple and then scored on Brianna Thomason’s infield single to make it 2-0.

Millington’s Trinity Fessler delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning to trim the Algonac lead in half. 

Stephenson, who went 3-for-4, singled in the seventh inning, went to second base on a passed ball and then scored when Jaycee Reams ripped a two-out single up the middle to make it 3-1.

Millington coach Greg Hudie said the tight-knit bond of his team was a factor in the come-from-behind win.

“I think it has a lot to do with how close they are as a family,” he said. “They train hard together all year long, and I think that’s what really put it together. Not giving up on each other even though we were down and our backs were against the wall.

“Most teams would probably be starting the bus, but I thought they did a great job and you couldn’t ask for a better finish.”

Algonac pitcher Kenna Bommarito, a sophomore, struck out 10 and held down a potent offense until the final inning.

The fourth-ranked Muskrats outhit Millington 9-8, but left several runners on base and were unable to get the final out to secure their first trip to the Finals.

“We can’t seem to get the big one,” Algonac coach Len Perkins said. “We had them right where we wanted them, but they hit the ball and made the difference.

“They found holes at the right time, and that’s softball. You have to come up with the big play, and they got the big hits. We had our chances, but didn’t get hits in those situations. They did, and you have to give them credit.”

Click for the full box score.

Evart 6, Grandville Calvin Christian 1

One big inning helped propel Evart to its first Finals appearance.

The unranked Wildcats (32-8-1) overcame an early deficit to score five runs in the second inning.

Evart softballEvart banged out eight hits, including six in a row, in the inning and took advantage of two Calvin Christian errors to gain control.

“It was probably the best inning we’ve had the whole season,” sophomore catcher Ally Theunick said. “It was awesome. We were all energized, and we were getting hits all over. It didn’t stop.”

Evart coach Amanda Brown said her team has had previous stints of timely hitting. Four of the five runs came with two outs.

“We found the fire, and it worked out beautifully,” she said. “We’ve had two other games like that where we had two outs and we scored six or seven runs like that, and it's just fun. No one wants to be the last out.

“The hitting is definitely contagious with any of these girls, and once something gets going they just run with it and they feed off it. Our dugout was amazing, and they did a great job.”

Evart tacked on another run in the fourth inning. Kylynn Thompson smacked a double to score Theunick.

The Wildcats’ defense shined once again and allowed only one run for the seventh straight postseason game.

“Our defense has been phenomenal,” Brown said. “They work their tails off, and we do so many fundamentals. We tell them all the time that fundamentals will win or lose games. Make the play when it’s presented, and make the best of it.” 

Calvin Christian went ahead 1-0 in the first inning when Emili Goodheart singled home Anna Voet. It was the only run the Squires would muster against junior pitcher Addysen Gray, who struck out eight and walked one.

“It feels great to know we are playing for a state championship, and to have our whole school here feels so good,” said Gray, who also went 3-for-4 at the plate.

The Wildcats finished with 12 hits as Skyler Baumgardner, Brooklyn Decker and Thompson had two hits each. The Squires, who finished 34-4, had only four hits and were plagued by five errors.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Millington players and fans celebrate during Friday’s first Division 3 Semifinal at Secchia Stadium. (Middle) Evart’s Katelyn Gostlin enjoys the moment on the way to first base during her team’s Semifinal win.

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.