High 5s - 4/17/12

April 17, 2012

Each week, Second Half gives "High 5s" to multiple athletes and a team that have performed exceptionally on the field or made a notable impact off of it.

Please offer your suggestions by e-mail to [email protected] Below are this week's honorees:

Sarah Appold

Saginaw Valley Lutheran senior


Appold is putting the final touches on a career that places her among the best ever at Saginaw Valley Lutheran. She holds multiple Chargers strikeout records and appears three times in the MHSAA record book for strikeouts in a game -- her best of 15 in a 2010 contest is tied for fifth-best in MHSAA history. Appold is 2-0 this season with batters hitting just .098 against her. She's also earned all-state recognition for volleyball and basketball this school year.

Up next: Appold has signed to play softball at Saginaw Valley State University and intends to study nursing.

I learned the most about pitching from: "Probably my dad, Randy Appold. He was pitching coach up until my seventh grade year. And Doug Gillis (out of Wixom), my pitching coach now."

My favorite athletes are: Detroit Tigers Austin Jackson and Justin Verlander. "My parents always took me to Tigers games when I was little, and I like watching them."

Try to keep up: Although Appold has never pitched to her baseball-playing friends, a few have caught her. "I've had a lot of people since freshman year ask me to pitch against them, to see how they'd do. I think I'd handle myself against them. ... There's a lot of different movement (to softball pitches)."

Nick Stiles

Bath senior


Stiles is finishing up an all-state career for the Bees that included a trip to the Division 3 Semifinals in 2010. He's currently tied with former standout Brennan Powers for Bath's career pitching wins record with 33, enough to also get him on the MHSAA record book list in that category. Stiles is 2-0 this season and has yet to give up an earned run -- including over 10 innings Monday, although he didn't get a decision in either game that afternoon. He also plays center field.

Up next: Stiles said a few colleges said they'd like to watch him this season before offering a scholarship. Also his school's valedictorian, Stiles, has been accepted by Michigan State and could go there as a student only. He'd major in human biology with an eye on becoming an orthopedic surgeon -- which began to interest him after he suffered an ankle injury as a sophomore. He also might consider walking-on at MSU or playing on the club team.

My best pitch is: "My fastball. I've got the most control over it. I can put it pretty much anywhere I want."

I learned the most about pitching from:
"My 14-and-under baseball coach Dave Morena. He had a certain way of doing things, and he knew what he was talking about. He taught me pretty much everything I know."

I look up to: "Justin Verlander. He works fast. He does throw his fastball a lot too. He's confident in his other pitches, but he likes to go to his fastball."

My career highlight: "The state Semifinal run. Records are records, made to be broken and all of that nonsense. But the run of the team; we weren't expected to do it, and the whole town followed us. Even though we lost, it was a great experience."

Grand Rapids West Catholic boys golf

After falling just five strokes short of winning the Kent County Classic on April 12 at The Highlands (behind top-ranked Division 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central), West Catholic took on some of the state's top Division 2 and 3 teams the next day at Michigan State's Forest Akers East -- and edged reigning Division 2 champion DeWitt by a stroke with a 303 to win the Haslett Invitational.

The Forest Akers field including Division 2 Nos. 1 and 2 DeWitt and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, respectively, and Division 3 No. 1 Jackson Lumen Christi and No. 9 Hanover-Horton -- with West Catholic ranked No. 4 in Division 3 entering the tournament. Junior Sam Weatherhead was medalist at both the Kent County Classic and Haslett Invitational, shooting 68 and 69, respectively, to win by four and three strokes.

Hockey Players Transferring Winter Puck Skills to Spring Golf Swings

By Tom Lang
Special for MHSAA.com

May 26, 2023

When the Michigan seasons shift from winter to spring, some high school golf teams are a little more eager than others for the hockey season to officially end.

This is especially true for the school golf programs in Brighton, Hartland and Muskegon Mona Shores – examples of boys teams that love having hockey players transition from the indoor frozen ice to play golf outdoors on the lush green grass.

“I would take a golf team full of hockey players any day,” said Hartland golf coach Nathan Oake. “I love them.”

We can tell, because his program is full of them.

Hartland and Brighton each have eight hockey players on their 16-golfer varsity and JV rosters.

Mona Shores has three hockey players this year, but usually has more. In 2023 it’s Oliver MacDonald (all-state honorable mention in hockey), Nathan McNarland and Nicholas Taylor, who was voted Division 1 all-state golf last spring, then leading his team to fifth place at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final.

Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. Brighton golfer Winston Lerch was also Division 1 all-state last year in golf and an assistant captain on the hockey team this winter that finished Division 1 runner-up to Detroit Catholic Central. Here in 2023, he shot a 65 to open the season at Oakland University for medalist and has committed to Grand Valley State for golf with his 72-stroke average.

Joining Lerch in the Bulldogs boys golf program are hockey players like Levi Pennala, winner of hockey’s Wall Award sponsored by State Champs as the top high school goalie. Pennala – who recently shot 72 at the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship tournament, his career low for high school golf – finished in the top 30 last year at the LPD1 Final. Then early this spring when he was away at a high-level junior hockey tournament, freshman hockey player Adam Forcier stepped in and shot a school record 18-hole round for a freshman at 73. Jacob Daavetilla also works into the starting lineup at times.

Forcier tied the record of Davis Codd – who, as a pro hockey player on leave from the Saginaw Spirit OHL hockey team when COVID-19 shut down the league, won the LPD1 Final in 2021 for Brighton.

Brighton golf coach Jimmy Dewling said Codd was one of the earliest to prove to others you can play both hockey and golf and excel. In fact, that June in 2021, Codd went to an NHL scouting camp in Pennsylvania before the Golf Finals, drove overnight back to Forest Akers to play the two championship rounds, won the title, then immediately returned to Pennsylvania to resume the hockey camp.

“On our team, we believe, and TBone (Codd) was a perfect example of it, if there’s any time you have the opportunity to be competitive, it is going to make you a more well-rounded competitor and therefore better at your particular sport,” Dewling said.

“We like hockey players. In the winter, they have to think to where the puck is going, be smart enough to react, and understand how that emotion is going to carry over from one play to the next. When it’s your shift you have to forget about the last shift, or take something from the last shift and put it into the next shift, to have consistent play.

“It’s the same on the golf course,” Dewling continued. “It’s one hole to the next, one shot at a time, being tough, and that’s only going to come from competition reps. We love the athletic ability more so than anything; the toughness and competitiveness all year.”

In addition to Lerch and Pennala starting on varsity golf, they are joined by traditional golfers Matt Doyle, Riley Morton and Andrew Daily, who is committed to Wayne State and finished LPD1 runner-up last spring.

Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. Going into the 2023 golf postseason, Brighton is ranked No. 2 in Division 1. The Bulldogs have won the Next Tee Invite at Oakland Hills, the North Star Invite at Plum Hollow and the KLAA Conference Championship – earning Brighton’s first conference title since 2007. The Bulldogs also were runners-up at The Meadows Invite at Grand Valley State University. The team is averaging 297 for 18 holes.

Oake admitted this is a rebuilding year for Hartland’s golf program. The varsity lineup has only two returning players with varsity golf experience – Keller King and Brady Betteley.

“So, we opted to keep a group of tough competitors with a solid combination of speed and strength – and who are not concerned about the cold conditions that we play in,” Oake quipped.

Five others rotate into the Eagles’ golf starting lineup with King and Betteley: Isaac Frantti is an all-state hockey defensemen playing his first season of golf but shot a career-low 79 at American Dunes recently. He just signed a United State Premier Hockey League tender to play in Connecticut next year. Ian Kastamo scored the winning goal in Hartland’s Division 2 hockey championship victory in 2022, and LJ Sabala is a varsity hockey player as well.

Then there are two non-hockey freshmen getting shots to start occasionally – Dallas Korponic, who finished third at his weight at the Individual Wrestling Finals, and Michael Maurin. Five more sophomores and juniors are hockey players on the JV golf team.

We hope to be competitive with (Brighton) again soon, but they have the talent to make a big splash this year,” Oake said. “I also play golf at the same club as many Brighton players, so I see them quite a bit and we are friendly. When the Brighton team walked by our team on a recent Monday and all said hello to me and our guys, one of my players looked at me and said that this was the biggest difference between hockey and golf. In hockey, the small talk would be (traded) for the ice, and it would not be very nice out there.

“Either way, I believe both sports are filled with fierce competitors and respect, but when the game is over a handshake and a golf hat tip are offered to the victor.”

This story was updated and reposted with permission of MIGolfJournal.com.

PHOTOS (Top) Brighton takes a team photo after finishing third at last season’s LPD1 Final, and all five golfers are back this season including hockey players Levi Pennala (second from left) and Winston Lerch (second from right.) (Middle) Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. (Below) Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. (Photos courtesy of High School Sports Scene, Sapshots Photography and Mona Shores’ athletic department, respectively.)