Finals Preview: History Awaits

June 12, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Half of the 16 teams making the trip to this weekend's Softball Finals at Battle Creek's Bailey Park are seeking their first MHSAA championship.

Seven of those teams hope to play in a title game for the first time. Five teams – Linden, Dundee, Holton, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett and Ubly – won their first Regional titles and had never played during the season's final week until winning Quarterfinals on Tuesday.

The last rounds begin with the Division 3 Semifinals at 10:30 Friday morning. Below is this weekend's schedule, followed by a look at each team that will be playing. 

Semifinals - Friday

Division 1
Bay City Western (36-2) vs. Garden City (27-7), 3:30 p.m.
Romeo (33-8) vs. Mattawan (33-8), 4 p.m.

Division 2
Linden (31-4) vs. Saginaw Swan Valley (30-9), 6 p.m.
Livonia Ladywood (32-9) vs. Tecumseh (31-5-3), 6:30 p.m.

Division 3
Holton (27-9) vs. Unionville-Sebewaing (36-3), 10:30 a.m.
Allen Park Cabrini (29-5) vs. Dundee (43-1), 11 a.m.

Division 4
Kalamazoo Christian (31-7) vs. Rogers City (33-6), 1 p.m.
Ubly (26-6) vs. Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (31-7), 1:30 p.m.

Finals - Saturday

Division 1 – 3 p.m.
Division 2 – 5:30 p.m.
Division 3 – 10 a.m.
Division 4 – 12:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $7 per round or $15 for an all-tournament ticket that includes admission to baseball games. Radio broadcasts of all Semifinals can be heard online at All Finals will be streamed live online at, with radio broadcasts again available on the MHSAA Network website.

All statistics below are through at least the regular season, with most through teams' Regionals or Quarterfinals. (Click for links to brackets and scores.)

Division 1

Record/rank: 36-2, No. 3
Coach: Rick Garlinghouse, ninth season (287-73-2)
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Hannah Leppek, jr. P/1B (23-1, 0.97 ERA, 212 K pitching, .485, 38 RBI); Meredith Rousse, jr. SS (.521, 12 2B, 28 RBI), Kaylynn Carpenter, jr. CF (.450, 12 2B, 41 RBI), Haley Bickham, sr. C (.426, 42 RBI).
Outlook: Bay City Western is back in the Semifinals for the second time in three seasons and with a team that should continue to dominate as it will graduate only three players. Their losses came against rival Bay City Central by a run and then to Division 3 No. 10 Reese, but the Warriors otherwise dominated their competition and beat No. 2 Grandville 1-0 in Tuesday’s Quarterfinal. Eleven hitters are batting at least .308 this spring.

Record/rank: 27-7, unranked
Coach: Barry Patterson, 27th season (641-245)
League finish: First in Western Wayne Athletic Conference Blue
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2008, Class A runner-up 1991.
Players to watch: Rachel Bommarito, jr. P/OF (13-2, 3.88 ERA, 59 K pitching, .480, 26 RBI, 45 R); Katlyn McIntosh, jr. 2B (.439, 11 2B, 42 R), Kaylen Glenfield, fr. SS (.434, 44 RBI), Abby Joseph, soph. 3B (.400, 42 RBI).
Outlook: Despite graduating 11 from last season’s team, Garden City is back in Battle Creek for the second straight and fourth time in eight years – and could be poised for another trip in 2014 with only two seniors and just one in the starting lineup. Offense has been a strong point: The Cougars have scored at least 10 runs in 15 games this season, including twice during the tournament.

Record/rank: 33-8, honorable mention
Coach: Alicia Smith, 13th season (350-153-1)
League finish: Third in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2011, runner-up 2012.
Players to watch: Allie Havers, sr. P/SS (22-5, 1.09 ERA, 231 K pitching, .364, 39 RBI); Kyla Nickrent, jr. SS/2B (.419, 52 R, 17 SB); Abby Stoner, sr. 1B (.408, 12 HR, 40 RBI); Sarah Johnson, sr. 3B (.376, 31 R, 24 RBI, 15 SB).
Outlook: Six players, including the top four in the lineup, also started as Mattawan fell 2-1 to Hudsonville in 10 innings in last season’s Final. The Wildcats will try to make it three straight championship game berths and two titles in three seasons, and have seen many of the state’s best already this season. Mattawan owns a win over No. 10 Romeo, another over Division 2 No. 1 Stevensville Lakeshore and a pair over Division 2 No. 2 Livonia Ladywood – and then beat Division 1 No. 1 Portage Central and No. 8 Saline during the tournament.

Record/rank: 33-8, No. 10
Coach: Dave McIntyre, fourth season (107-29)
League finish: Second in Macomb Area Conference Red
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Taylor Weaver, jr. P (29-2, 0.75 ERA, 291 K pitching, .432, 30 RBI); Danielle Szajna soph. 1B (.424, 37 R, 9 HR, 56 RBI); Kayla Noch, soph. SS (.404, 16 2B, 35 RBI); Morgan Gardner, fr. 2B (.392, 16 2B, 42 R).
Outlook: Romeo has arrived – perhaps a little earlier than expected, given there are only two seniors but four underclassmen in the starting lineup. The Bulldogs have won District titles in three of four seasons under McIntyre, and began this spring with a win over eventual No. 1 Portage Central. Romeo also owns wins against semifinalists Garden City and Livonia Ladywood.

Division 2

Record/rank: 31-4, unranked
Coach: Gordon Jamison, fourth season (74-100)
League finish: Second in Flint Metro League
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Maija Satkowiak, sr. CF (.532, 36 R, 34 RBI); Molly Sherman, jr. P (18-1, 1.73 ERA pitching, .505); Savannah Weaver, sr. SS (.442, 37 R, 30 RBI); Bri Senter, sr. 3B (.440, 25 R, 11 SB).
Outlook: Linden has made substantial progress under Jamison, finishing 9-28 but winning its District in his first season, then going 12-22 in 2011 before building a combined 52-22 record over the last two years. Five seniors make up most of the top and middle of an experienced lineup that upset No. 3 Wayland 10-8 in the Regional Final.

32-9, No. 2
Coach: Scott Combs, sixth season (205-40)
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic High School League Central
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2012, runner-up 2009.
Players to watch: Andria Gietl, sr. 1B; Celeste Fidge, sr. 3B; Lauren Hayes, jr. OF; Haley Lawrence, jr. SS. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: It might’ve looked like the end of Ladywood’s recent run with the graduation of standout pitcher Briana Combs after last season’s MHSAA title. But the Blazers have returned to Battle Creek in part on the arm of freshman Rosalyn Price and have four starters back from last season’s Final (see those listed above). And Ladywood does have a Bailey Park-tested pitcher if needed – Hayes was the unlikely hero last season, closing out the Semifinal and throwing a shutout in the Final after Combs was injured.

30-9, No. 7
Coach: Tom Kennelly, 34th season (990-254)
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference Central
Championship history: Class B champion 1996, three runner-up finishes (most recent 2012).
Players to watch: Sarah Addy, jr. 2B (.508, 41 R, 42 SB); Reegan Flattery, jr. C (.477, 34 R, 26 RBI); Courtney Reinhold, jr. P/1B (20-4, 0.67 ERA, 177 K pitching, .370, 4 HR, 32 RBI); Paige Churchfield, soph. C/1B (.413, 3 HR, 37 RBI).  
Outlook: After coming within a win of its first MHSAA championship in 17 seasons, Swan Valley has returned with a strong young nucleus that got experience during last season’s run. Reinhold has shined in taking over as the main pitcher, and junior centerfielder Kelli Halvin is hitting .430 as the top hitter among those who joined the lineup this spring. The Vikings began this run with a 3-1 win over No. 8 Bullock Creek in the District opener.

Record/rank: 31-5-3, honorable mention
Coach: Jeff Nowak, first season (31-5-3)
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference White
Championship history: Division 2 champions 2008 and 2007, two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Kelsea Kaliszuk (.584, 36 R, 39 RBI); Kylie Hill (.466, 31 R, 37 RBI), Kelsey Rendell (.463, 36 R, 17 2B, 9 HR, 48 RBI); McKenzie Rowe (.424, 48 R, 13 SB).
Outlook: The Indians’ 5-1 win over No. 1 Stevensville Lakeshore in Tuesday’s Quarterfinal might’ve been the stunner in the state that day, but maybe shouldn’t have been as surprising considering the teams Tecumseh also has beaten this spring – including Division 1 No. 4 Sterling Heights Stevenson, honorable mention Clarkston and Semifinalist Garden City. Four other regulars are hitting at least .333, and senior Emily Maves and junior Kayla Kormos had combined for a 28-2 pitching record and 1.87 ERA entering this week.

Division 3

Record/rank: 29-5, No. 4
Coach: Debbie Norman, 16th season (414-71)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League AA
Championship history: Division 4 champions 2007 and 2006, Division 3 runners-up 2010 and 2008.
Players to watch: Paige Altherr, sr. P (26-5, 2.29 ERA, 145 K pitching, .440, 40 RBI); Sydney Lankford, sr. 3B (.407, 36 R, 4 HR, 45 RBI); Ashley Gordon sr. 1B/P (.400, 43 RBI); Lily Ranspach, soph. SS (.391, 28 RBI); Abbey Walewski, sr. CF (.386, 46 R, 11 SB).
Outlook: Cabrini just missed a trip to Battle Creek last season, losing to eventual champion Clinton 2-1 in a Quarterfinal. The Monarchs eliminated two ranked opponents during this run, No. 8 Grass Lake in the Regional Semifinal and No. 10 Reese on Tuesday. Seven seniors anchor the starting lineup and key an offense that boasts an overall batting average of .355.

Record/rank: 43-1, No. 1
Coach: Mickey Moody, third season (101-20)
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Hannah Rachor, sr. SS; Vanessa Ewing, sr. P (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: The Vikings’ longest run has included beating reigning two-time champion Clinton in the Regional Semifinal and two wins by double-digit runs. Dundee's regular-season success included a sweep of Clinton and victories over Division 1 honorable mention Hartland and Division 2 honorable mention Flat Rock. The only loss was 2-1 to Onsted;  Dundee has given up more than two runs only three times and never more than four runs.  

Record/rank: 27-9, unranked
Coach: Jeremy Hartwick, fourth season (82-59)
League finish: Third in Central State Activities Association
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Ashley Friend, soph. C (.446, 29 RBI, 39 R); Jacki Stone, soph. SS (.429, 13 2B, 35 R, 45 RBI, 19 SB); Rachel Younts, soph. P (22-6, 1.34 ERA, 173 K pitching, .356, 30 RBI, 36 R); Cassidy VanBlargan, sr. 1B (.316, 35 R, 14 SB).
Outlook: A group of six sophomore starters helped Holton to its first Regional title and no doubt has set a foundation for similar runs over the next two seasons. The Red Devils have won 10 of their last 11 and like to create havoc on the base paths – six players have stolen at least 10 bases this season. The District title two weekends ago was the team’s second straight after a 9-21 finish in 2011.

36-3, No. 3
Coach: Steve Bohn, second season (76-8)
League finish: First in Greater Thumb Conference West
Championship history: Three championships (most recent 2009 in Division 4), one runner-up finish.
Players to watch: Stephanie Neuman, jr. 2B (.510, 44 R, 16 2B, 5 HR, 35 RBI); Chelsey Bitzer, sr. 1B (.495, 43 R, 4 HR, 38 RBI); Breanna Dinsmoore, soph. 3B (.495, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 51 R); Erica Treiber, soph. P (17-2, 0.49 ERA, 160 K pitching, .427, 32 R).
Outlook: USA is returning to Bailey Park for the eighth straight season, and six starters also were in the lineup in last season’s Semifinal loss to eventual champion Clinton. Senior Ashlyn VanHoost is an all-state catcher and hitting .438 with 33 RBI as another of seven regulars batting at least .400. USA hasn’t given up a run in the postseason, outscoring its opponents – including No. 5 Gladstone in the Quarterfinal – by a combined score of 59-0. Freshman Nicole Bauer is 16-1 with a 0.53 ERA sharing pitching duties with Treiber.

Division 4

Record/rank: 31-7, No. 4
Coach: Ted Alpert, fifth season (85-50)
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Angela Evangelista (.531, 54 R, 35 SB); Emma Nicholas (.465, 41 R, 7 HR, 46 RBI); Anna Majewski (.448, 14 2B, 43 R, 47 RBI); Ashley Tengler (16-4, 1.71 ERA pitching, .478).
Outlook: University Liggett has improved its win total every season under Alpert. The Knights have outscored their postseason opponents by a combined 51-2, and their wins this spring include a sweep of honorable mention Waterford Our Lady, a Quarterfinal victory over honorable mention Concord and a 4-2 win over No.3 Rogers City. All nine regulars are hitting at least .394, and freshman Emily Kanakry is 10-0 sharing pitching duties with Tengler.

Record/rank: 31-7, No. 1
Coach: Karla Reno, fourth season (114-41)
League finish: First in Kalamazoo Valley Association
Championship history: Six championships (most recent 2002 in Division 3), two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Tori Sides, jr. CF (.461, 41 R, 17 SB); Stephanie VanderLugt, sr. P/IF (16-4, 1.57 ERA, 136 K pitching, .434, 40 RBI, 15 2B); Rebekah VanDam, jr. P/3B (14-3, 1.29 ERA, 117 K pitching, .370, 33 RBI); Morgan Locker, jr. SS (.322, 36 R).
Outlook: Kalamazoo Christian is making its first trip back to Bailey Park since its most recent championship run of 2002. The Comets have continued to justify their top ranking over the last two weeks, eliminating No. 7 Decatur in the Regional and No. 5 Gobles on Tuesday. They’ve seen some of the best in Michigan regardless of division and own wins over Division 1 No. Portage Central and Division 2 No. 10 Coloma. 

Record/rank: 33-6, No. 3
Coach: Karl Grambau, 11th season (273-121)
League finish: First in Straits Area Conference
Championship history: Two runner-up finishes (most recent 2004).
Players to watch: Sarah Meredith (.522, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 32 R); Logan Fleming (.476, 5 HR, 39 RBI, 47 R); Cassie Brege (.455, 34 R); Nikki Radke (12-4, 2.88 ERA pitching).
Outlook: Rogers City is back at Bailey Park for the first time since 2004, and has succeeded on one of the toughest roads to get here with postseason wins over No. 6 Onaway, No. 8 Posen and No. 10 Rapid River. Depth is a strength – the team is batting .397 with every regular hitting at least .310. And Grambau can turn to a few pitching options with Radke the top thrower followed by senior Brooklyn Idalski (10-2, 2.82 ERA) and sophomore Alexa Quaine (8-0, 2.44).

Record/rank: 26-6, unranked
Coach: Courtney Dekoski, third season (52-29)
League finish: First in Greater Thumb Conference East
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Michela Guza, soph. P/2B (14-3, 1.81 ERA pitching, .495, 15 2B 46 R, 29 RBI); Maria Guza, sr. SS (.459, 32 R, 26 RBI); Kari White, jr. LF (.400, 37 R); Alyssa Briolat, sr. C (.400, 37 R, 26 RBI); Marisa Guza, soph. RF (.400, 28 R).
Outlook: A group of four seniors have led Ubly to its first Semifinals, with the run including three shutouts in the District tournament. The Bearcats can score in bunches; the team has a batting average of .359 and has scored 10 runs or more in 17 games this season. Senior Marie Wolverton starts at second base but also is 10-3 pitching this spring.

PHOTO: Ubly players celebrate their winning run in Tuesday's Quarterfinal against Portland St. Patrick; the win advanced Ubly to the Semifinals for the first time. (Click to see more at

Grass Lake Slugger Turner Writing Name All Over MHSAA Record Book

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

May 7, 2024

Bill and Julia Turner have not only put in a lot of miles on the road, but they’ve also put a lot of miles in on the softball field.

Greater DetroitBefore Olivia Turner was hitting the cover off the ball and becoming Michigan’s career RBI leader for the Grass Lake softball team, Bill and Julia were taking her to the field for batting practice.

“I always wanted to go to the field, and my dad would take me and my mom would shag balls in the outfield,” Olivia said. “They’ve spent countless hours, especially traveling around the country. They’ve been my biggest support system. They are awesome.”

Her Warriors teammates are grateful, too. Last week Turner became Michigan’s all-time leader in runs batted in, surpassing Taylor Light & Life Christian’s Kelly Kennedy, who held the record with 304 RBIs from 1991-94.

“It was crazy to think I beat a 30-year-old record,” Turner said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. I’m just super thankful.”

Having her name on the state record book for softball is nothing new to Turner. She barely missed the state mark for RBIs in a season last year when she had 102 and is the state’s all-time career doubles leader already.

Grass Lake head coach Roger Cook said Turner never talks about hitting home runs or driving in runs – just about being a teammate.

“I’m going to tell you, she’s one of the most modest people you’ll ever talk to,” Cook said. “She just talks team, team, team. She always has since I’ve known her. She has never said one thing about a home run or a base hit.”

Turner, who plays third base, has been around the Grass Lake program for a long time. When her sister Madeline was playing for the Warriors before heading off to play at Findlay University in Ohio, Olivia would tag along.

“I just wanted to be at the field, be around softball,” she said.

Turner first picked up the game when she was on an 8-and-under team.

“I fell in love with it,” she said.

Turner will graduate this spring with multiple MHSAA records.She started as a pitcher, but quickly converted to infielder, where she has played with Grass Lake and various travel teams. She also plays volleyball and basketball for Grass Lake, but softball is her sport.

“We’re all one family,” she said. “I love that you get to play with girls that you may not be friends with at school. It shows you who you are. Softball gives you a lot of life lessons – dedication, teamwork, how to work with others.”

She loves to hit, too.

“Every at-bat, even if there is no one on base, I want to get on base,” she said. “I’m always going up to the plate doing it for my team, not for myself. The RBIs are pretty cool. My team gets on base for me. All of the girls are phenomenal.”

Cook said he sometimes gets worried that opponents will just pitch around Turner. But because of who is in the lineup in front of and behind her, he doesn’t have to worry about that.

“We have Rylee Fitzpatrick, Emily Brown, then Olivia,” Cook said. “After Olivia we have (junior) Bree Salts, who has committed to Central Michigan. It’s hard to pitch around her. When we get to some of these big games, teams will have to throw to her.”

Last year’s Division 3 runner-up Ottawa Lake Whiteford has faced Grass Lake multiple times over the past couple of seasons, and coach Matt VanBrandt is plenty familiar with the damage Turner can do.

"You'd better have a plan when you are pitching to her,” VanBrandt said. “She’s a dangerous hitter. She’s someone you need to think about before the game starts.”

Turner hit .714 last season with 30 doubles and those 102 runs batted in. For her career, she’s belted 48 home runs and knocked in 309 runs after Saturday’s tournament. She’s never hit below .535 for a season and is nearing 100 career doubles.

Grass Lake currently is 22-1 and leading the Cascades Conference.

“It’s crazy to think I am actually a senior now,” Turner said. “Now that it is my senior year, I just want to work hard and play for my team. We’ve had great seniors the last couple of years. It’s crazy to think this is my last season.”

Turner will attend Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. She chose Bradley because of its nursing program.

“Academics has always been first for me,” she said. “I fell in love with the campus. It’s not too big or too small. The staff there is great.”

Before taking her swing to college, Grass Lake wants to make a deep tournament run this season. And the more games the Warriors play, the more RBIs Turner is likely to add to her record.

“Olivia has one of the smoothest, most beautiful swings I’ve ever seen,” Cook said. “She’s one of the girls you want up there at bat with the game on the line. She can do it all. If you need a single, she’ll get you a single. If you need a walk-off, she can do that, too.”

Doug DonnellyDoug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Grass Lake’s Olivia Turner focuses on a pitch coming her way. (Middle) Turner will graduate this spring with multiple MHSAA records. (Photos courtesy of Pictures by Marisa and the Grass Lake softball program.)