High 5s - 6/19/12

June 21, 2012

The final High 5s of 2011-12 go to a pair of Ishpeming Westwood golfers who led their team to a rare feat of four straight Finals championships, and perhaps the most unexpected team champion of the spring season -- the Dansville softball team, which downed reigning champion Petersburg-Summerfield in the Division 4 championship game.

Berkley LaFreniere
Ishpeming Westwood senior

LaFreniere completed her fourth and final season on the Westwood golf team this spring by helping the Patriots to a fourth-straight MHSAA title. She shot a 90 to finish individual runner-up at the Division 2 Final to teammate Megan Manninen. LaFreniere also was a forward on the basketball team and played No. 1 doubles for the tennis team that ended the fall with a third-straight Upper Peninsula Division 2 championship. Three of the golf titles were in Division 2, while the 2010 championship came in Division 1.

Winning ways: "It takes a lot of practice. Obviously the time you put in is what gets you the best results. But I also think it's about having fun."

I learned the most about golf from: "My dad (Paul) is a big golfer. We've had a membership at Wawonowin (Country Club) since I was really little. I would say maybe 10 years old (is when I started), maybe even younger."

If I could play with three others: "Rory (McIlroy) from the PGA, Tiger Woods just because he's the best known, and probably Jack Nicklaus. I just always hear about him when I'm watching golf. They always compare things to him."

Up next: LaFreniere will attend the University of Michigan and study one of the sciences, perhaps biochemistry, on the way to becoming a pediatric oncologist. "When they find a cure for cancer, I want to be part of that."

(Click to read more.)

Megan Manninen
Ishpeming Westwood senior

Manninen, with LaFreniere, also completed her fourth and final season on the Westwood golf team as part of the Patriots' fourth-straight MHSAA Upper Peninsula Finals winner. Manninen shot an 87 to also win her second-straight and third total UP Division 2 individual championship. A point guard on the basketball team, she'll signed to play hoops this fall at Lake Superior State University.

I learned the most about golf from: "My dad (Kevin Manninen). He's the manager of Wawonowin Country Club and was the manager as Marquette Golf Course. He played at Oakland University and in a couple of U.S. Open qualifiers."

If I could play with three others: "My dad, Jame (Reichardt, her uncle who died May 14) and my grandpa (Harold Reichardt)."

My favorite golfer to watch: "Rory McIlroy. I enjoyed watching him last year in the U.S. Open. He was new, and he was trying to win for his dad because it was Father's Day. I enjoyed watching him a lot." 

My favorite to watch play hoops: "Skylar Diggins, the point guard for Notre Dame. I like her control and leadership."

Up next: Manninen will get the chance to contribute immediately for the Lakers' basketball team, and will major in pre-med with hopes of becoming a physician assistant. "I want to help people, and when I was down at U-M (to visit her uncle at the hospital) I saw a lot of opportunities to do that."

(Click to read more.)  

Dansville softball

On Friday, the Aggies won their first MHSAA Semifinal. On Saturday, the finished the weekend with the Division 4 championship. Dansville was in its third trip to Bailey Park over the last four seasons, and defeated top-ranked and two-time reigning champion Petersburg-Summerfield, 3-2. Not only was it the first softball championship in school history, but also the first MHSAA title in any girls sport. The Aggies had entered the postseason ranked No. 9 and finished this spring 31-5.

This spring's previous honorees

Grass Lake Slugger Turner Writing Name All Over MHSAA Record Book

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)