Lakeshore Thrives Under Pressure Again in Title-Clinching Comeback Win

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

June 18, 2022

EAST LANSING – The Stevensville Lakeshore softball team has become accustomed to playing in close games.

Saturday’s Division 2 Final provided another tightly-contested matchup until the Lancers pulled away in the late innings.

The Lancers (40-4) rallied to defeat Trenton 6-2 at Secchia Stadium and won the program’s eighth Finals championship and first since 2014. 

Lakeshore’s previous three games all were decided by one run, and this one wasn’t decided until the Lancers scored six runs over the final three innings to erase a 2-0 deficit.

“We tried to instill in the team that pressure wasn't a hardship, it was an honor,” said Lancers senior Anna Chellman, who had two hits and two RBI.

“It was an awesome opportunity to be put in these high-pressure situations because that’s how you make it through to the state finals.”

Chellman and senior Gianna Kerschbaum were on the 2019 squad that lost to Escanaba, 7-3, in the Division 2 Final.

“I can’t fathom this,” Chellman said. “I was here as a freshman when we got second, and Gianna and I have been dreaming about this since that day we lost. Just the way we were able to work through COVID and our junior year. Everyone was on board, and we knew we could pull together and win this.”

Trenton (33-11) was in a Final for the first time since 2005 and seeking its first championship.

The Trojans grabbed the early lead with RBI singles from Annika Segedi and Aleah Tanguay in the third and fourth innings, respectively.

The Lancers, however, mounted a comeback in the top of the fifth.

A single from Gabby Solloway and an error scored two to knot the score at 2-2. Solloway advanced to third on the error and then scored the go-ahead run on a ground out.

Lakeshore/Trenton softball“We had one hit every inning early so we saw that we could hit her,” Chellman said. “If we kept attacking her then we knew it would happen, and it did. Gabby had a great hit, and it broke it open for all of us.”

Lakeshore extended its lead in the sixth inning thanks to a leadoff double by Pallas Dominion, who scored on a fielder’s choice. 

The Lancers added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh. A double by Chellman that glanced off the glove of the left fielder scored Kerschbaum, and a sacrifice fly from Eden Gray brought home Solloway. 

Lakeshore coach Denny Dock, the third-winningest in MHSAA softball history, pointed to his defense as the turning point after his team fell behind early.

“We’ve played some unbelievable teams and we’ve played unbelievable defense, especially the last half of the year,” Dock said. “From the third inning on I thought defense started to carry us again like it has been, and a huge play was Eva (Kerschbaum) throwing that girl out at second base, and then the last out Gianna makes a phenomenal running catch to get that third out.”

Junior Ava Mullen and sophomore Avery Atwood combined to allow six hits and one earned run. They struck out six and walked one.

“We pitched around the plate, and both girls did fine,” Dock said. “It’s been that way all year with them, and we just hung on and pitched a great seventh (inning).”

Trenton coach Rick Tanguay was pleased with where his team stood after four innings, but two errors proved pivotal in the Lancers’ comeback.

“We battled, and we had them, but we made a couple of mistakes and that’s what cost us,” Tanguay said. “We just made a couple bad decisions on a couple of balls, but the girls were trying their hardest.

“We came into the season with high hopes. We lost a very good player (Michigan recruit Lillian Vallimont, who missed the season with an injury) before the season started, but this team responded and went to the Finals without her. I'm proud of them.”

Segedi, a sophomore, was the only Trojan to collect multiple hits.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Stevensville Lakeshore raises its championship trophy after Saturday’s Division 2 Final win. (Middle) Lancers catcher Natalia Najera puts a tag on Trenton’s Jordyn Emery (3).

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.