Gladstone Follows 'Rally Girl' to D3 Win

June 14, 2014

By Kelsey Pence
Special to Second Half

EAST LANSING – On Friday, Gladstone pitcher Tinner Sharon gave up back-to-back home runs to Coloma in the seventh inning before the Braves came back in the eighth to win their MHSAA Division 3 Semifinal.

On Saturday, Sharon found herself in a similar position – Gladstone led undefeated Unionville-Sebewaing by a run and needed only three more outs to secure the third MHSAA title in program history.

She was anything by nervous.

Sharon struck out all three Patriots she faced in the bottom of the seventh inning, icing a 2-1 win and the Braves’ first championship since 2009.

“After being in the seventh inning (Friday) when they jacked the two homeruns, I was probably the least excited on the field actually,” Sharon said. “I was so focused.”

Sharon’s tournament has been a bumpy ride. She injured her ankle in Friday’s Semifinal while in the pitching circle.

“She knew she wanted to play today,” Gladstone coach Ashley Hughes said. “She is one of the most focused kids I know, and she was coming in here big and focused. It’s just amazing what that girl can do and what she can endure. She is a rally girl out there and got the troops ready in the seventh inning.”

Sharon tripled in the first inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Sadie Strasser. But USA’s Allison Hoppe doubled and eventually scored to tie the game in the Patriots’ half.

“I knew they were going to be tough competition, but these girls were in it every step of the way,” Hughes said. “We lost to them in the quarters last year, and our girls wanted revenge.”

Sharon walked and Strasser hit into a fielder’s choice to advance her to second base in the third inning. Lexi Hongisto then ripped a double to deep right field, allowing Sharon’s pinch runner, Alyssa Polley, to score the go-ahead run.

“She was pitching me inside, and I am not a fan of inside pitches,” Hongisto said. “Then she pitched me an outside pitch, and I just went with it and it felt so good.”

The Patriots had a chance to even the score in the fourth inning when Nicole Bauer got a hit to left field with two outs. Jennifer Winchell singled to left field to put two on base, but Rachel Hahn grounded out.

But after retiring three in order, the Patriots again had a chance to tie or take the lead in the fifth.

Mackenzie Eurich doubled to right field to start the inning, with Camille Mayhew subbing in as a courtesy runner. Hoppe struck out, but Stephanie Nueman smacked a pitch to short right field to put two on base with one out. But Gladstone got out of the inning with a double play.

“Our defense has been solid this year and with Tinner on the mound, we are always confident with Tinner,” Hongisto said. “Tinner always tells us one pitch at a time, not one out at a time.”

Sharon pitched seven innings, giving up eight hits, striking out 12 and walking none.

“We had eight hits. We just couldn’t get the one big one,” Patriots coach Steve Bohn said. “That lineout double play was huge for them.”

Neuman finished with two hits for USA, while Nicole Bauer took the loss on in the circle, striking out two, walking two and giving up four hits. Erica Treiber pitched in relief, striking out seven, walking one and holding Gladstone hitless over the last three innings.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Gladstone pitcher Tinner Sharon gave up one run in a complete-game win. (Middle) Unionville-Sebewaing catcher Breanna Dinsmoore had a hit and caught a pair of pitchers who combined on a four-hitter.

Gaylord, Vicksburg Post Semifinal Shutouts to Set Up Title Game Rematch

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

June 13, 2024

EAST LANSING – Gaylord possessed one of the most productive offenses in MHSAA history entering Thursday’s first Division 2 Semifinal.

The top-ranked Blue Devils showed no signs of a power failure in securing a spot in Saturday’s Final.

Gaylord scored in four of the seven innings in a 9-0 victory over Milan at Secchia Stadium.

The reigning Division 2 champion has recorded more than 400 RBIs this season and has outscored its last four postseason opponents by a combined 48-4.

“We just prepare really hard in practice and put a lot of time in,” Blue Devils coach Ron Moeggenberg said. “The offense is very good. We hit the long ball, and we can play short game. We do a little bit of everything, so it’s very special.” 

Gaylord hopes to repeat Saturday when it faces Vicksburg in a rematch of last year’s Final. First pitch is at 12:30 p.m.

Senior shortstop Aubrey Jones was one of four Blue Devils to have multiple hits against Milan. She started and ended the scoring.

Jones’ RBI single in the first inning gave Gaylord a 1-0 lead, and her two-run blast in the sixth capped the win. 

“It’s all about my team, and I'm just glad I could do something for my team,” Jones said. “I knew I would get one eventually because my (at) bats before that were decent. Just getting my pitch and doing what I could with it to help my team get a few more runs on the board.”

Senior hurler Jayden Jones, who scattered six hits through seven innings and struck out four to earn the shutout win, also had two hits.

Addison Wangler went 2-for-3, while Nora Bethuy registered two hits and scored two runs.

“No one trains like we do,” Aubrey Jones said. “We are very deliberate in our practice, and it shows up with the confidence we have at the plate because we know if we don't do it then the person behind us will.”

Kennedy Wangler cleared the bases with a two-out double in the third inning, and Gaylord went ahead 4-0.

The Blue Devils tacked on two more runs in the fourth.

“We said once we got past their pitcher the first time through we would start going after that,” Moeggenberg said. “It’s kind of the way it's been, and not at any time was I nervous about what was going on in the beginning. I knew we would prevail.”

Timely hitting also has been a trademark of Gaylord throughout the season.

“We’ve done a lot of that this year with two outs,” Moeggenberg said. “I’m not surprised that the girls just stayed focused. Our approach with two outs is the same as no outs. We don’t put any pressure on ourselves.” 

This was Milan’s second trip to the Semifinals.

“Their defense was just phenomenal,” Big Reds coach Kirk Davis said. “We didn’t get too many strong hits, and they were able to field everything. We have a good pitcher (Mariah Stines) and she usually is able to shut people down, but their offense is good and they hit a lot of balls in the gaps. It was tough.”

Click for the full box score.

Vicksburg 4, North Branch 0

Vicksburg was motivated to get another opportunity to play for the Division 2 championship.

The No. 4 Bulldogs (37-7) will get another crack at the team that spoiled their title hopes a year ago. Gaylord won last year’s Division 2 Final matchup 8-3.

“We've worked all year for this,” Vicksburg senior pitcher Delaney Monroe said. “We said last year that we wanted to get back to this point, and now we are back here and it's the best feeling in the world.

Vicksburg’s Brooklynn Ringler (4) slides into second during her team’s Semifinal win.“It was a hard time last year with that loss, and having the opportunity to be back here against that team is even better – to have the opportunity to get them back.”

Vicksburg coach Paul Gephart didn’t want to use the word “revenge,” but he’s hopeful for a different outcome with eight returning starters from last year’s run.

“It's a new year, it’s a new season and, obviously, it's going to be a challenge,” he said. “They are extremely good, and they've been ranked No. 1 the entire year and rightfully so. They’ve earned it, and they've deserved it until someone can upset them. Hopefully we will be the ones to do it.”

Vicksburg took an early 3-0 lead in top of the second inning by taking advantage of two North Branch errors and a hit batsman. 

The Bulldogs manufactured another run in the fifth with a bunt single by Madison Diekman, a hit batsman and a fielder's choice. 

“Offensively we didn't hit like we normally would, but I think we capitalized on their mistakes and we took advantage of the opportunities that they presented us to score,” Gephart said. “Delaney always pitches pretty well here at the end since she's been healthy, and our defense is always pretty solid. We don’t make a whole lot of mistakes defensively.”  

The Bulldogs managed only five hits, but Monroe kept the Broncos off the scoreboard with six strikeouts. She didn’t walk a batter and scattered five hits.

North Branch (15-20) came in as the only team in the Semifinals with a sub-.500 record, but won eight straight before Thursday’s season-ending defeat.

Senior ace Alana Deshetsky kept her team in the game with seven strikeouts and only one walk. She allowed only five hits and two earned runs.

“I stacked our schedule, and we played a lot of top-notch teams,” Broncos coach Alyssa Welling said. “I don’t think we won a game in May, but I knew we had the talent and I knew we could do it.

“We had one bad inning, and in the game of softball one bad inning can really put you south, but we weren't even supposed to make it out of Districts. People didn't have us winning Districts or getting out of Regionals, so we are so grateful to be here and we put in the work to be here.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Gaylord’s Aubrey Jones throws to first Thursday as Milan’s Tierra Ronayne slides into second base. (Middle) Vicksburg’s Brooklynn Ringler (4) slides into second during her team’s Semifinal win.