Forgettable Start, Unforgettable Finish

June 13, 2015

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING — The goal for Warren Regina after eight games wasn't to win an MHSAA softball championship.

It was much simpler than that: Just win one game. 

Although records don't exist for such things, it's safe to assume that Regina is the first team to win an MHSAA championship after starting a season 0-8 (without forfeits).

The journey from frustration to elation concluded Saturday with a 5-0 victory over Caledonia in the Division 1 title game at Michigan State University. 

Regina finished with a 27-16 record but more importantly, was 7-0 during the MHSAA tournament. The Saddlelites allowed only eight runs and had three shutouts in those seven games.

Once Regina's record hit 3-11, a team meeting was convened. 

"We talked about, 'Hey, we have a lot of team talent. Why waste it this year?'" said senior pitcher Marissa Tiano, who pitched a two-hitter and struck out nine against Caledonia.

It was the kind of start that Regina's players can make light of in retrospect. 

"We actually made jokes about it," said Regina junior Nicole Roeske, who was 3 for 3 in the Final. "It's a whole different team, like a family now. At the beginning, we were frustrated with losing."

Legendary Regina coach Diane Laffey said that, in her role as athletic director, she was partially to blame for the slow start.

"I was probably stupid," said Laffey, who has won 1,066 games in 45 years as Regina's coach. "I front-loaded the schedule and probably shouldn't have. Of those eight losses, two were to Mercy, two were to Ladywood, two were to Romeo, two were to Dakota. Those are all good teams. We weren't losing to flukes, but it gets really frustrating." 

The only frustration Saturday was experienced by the Caledonia hitters, who couldn't get to third base and reached second only twice. The Fighting Scots' most reliable way to reach base was getting hit by pitches. They were hit three times, walked twice and had only two singles.

"We didn't show the kind of team we are today," Caledonia coach Tom Kaechele said. "She had us guessing up there. We just didn't adjust, but that's the game of softball. That's why you compete at this level. We just played at the highest level we could in Division 1, and there are 199 other schools who would like to be here just like us." 

The game was scoreless through three innings before Regina broke the deadlock in the top of the fourth. Roeske led off with a single and scored on a two-out triple to right-center field by Hailey Reese.

"Knowing my team, I knew all we needed was one big hit and we'd win the game," Reese said. "I had faith in them." 

The Saddlelites busted it open with a four-run fifth inning.

On a 3-2 pitch, Riley Hison lined a double deep to left field to score two runs. Hison moved to third on a throwing error and scored on a pitch in the dirt. Sydney Spatafore scored the final run of the fifth just before a tag on a runner going from second to third ended the inning. 

Caledonia (34-5) had batters hit by pitches in each of the last three innings, but neither got past first base.

Regina has a 6-0 record in MHSAA Finals, winning its first title since going on a four-year run from 2004-07. 

"Our picture goes up in the gym along with the other ones," Tiano said. "It feels great."

Caledonia was playing beyond the regional round for the first time. 

"We're disappointed, obviously," Kaechele said. "This team has overcome a lot of adversity this year. To be 34-5 is an awfully good season. I told them to make sure you celebrate this moment and look at the accomplishments you've had this year. We've never been here before. We've never won a Regional before. You need to celebrate that for the program, the community and yourselves."

Click for the box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Longtime Regina coach Diane Laffey hoists her team’s championship trophy Saturday. (Middle) Regina’s Lauren Buckowski tries to beat a throw to first base with Hannah Horvath covering. 

Owosso Ace's Strikeout Total Stacks Up with State's All-Time Best

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.