Mattawan, Havers Write Winning Story

June 15, 2013

By Bill Khan

Special to Second Half


BATTLE CREEK — Allie Havers is an overpowering presence on the softball field. But the situation called for finesse.

Mattawan’s 6-foot-5 senior was perfectly capable of switching gears.


She dropped down a perfect suicide squeeze to bring home the tying run in a two-run sixth inning that carried the Wildcats to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Bay City Western in the MHSAA Division 1 championship game Saturday at Bailey Park.


Two batters later, freshman Genny Soltesz drove in what proved to be the winning run by slapping a two-out single to center field.


Havers had a dominant performance in the pitching circle, striking out 11 batters and allowing only two hits. One of those hits was a home run to center field by Kaylynn Carpenter in the fourth inning.


Havers had five home runs and only one sacrifice all season, but she didn’t flinch when coach Alicia Smith called for a squeeze with one out and runners on first and third.


“She came up to me and was like, ‘Squeeze,’” Havers said. “I was like, ‘Let’s go.’”

Havers laid down a bunt that didn’t even draw a throw home. By the time third baseman Diondra Heading got to the ball, Sarah Johnson was almost to the plate with the tying run. Johnson began the rally with a one-out single.


“I knew she was ready,” Smith said. “I’ve got seniors on the corners and a senior at bat. We can’t ask for a better storyline.”


Mattawan (35-8) won the 2011 Division 1 championship by outscoring three final-round opponents, 27-0.


The Wildcats had to battle nearly every step of the way during this postseason run. They trailed Portage Central 4-2 in the fifth inning of the District Final before winning 5-4. They were down 2-0 to Saline in the Quarterfinal before forcing extra innings and winning 7-3. They trailed Romeo 1-0 before a three-run fifth inning in the Semifinal carried them to a 3-2 victory.


“We’ve played under pressure many times,” Havers said. “When there’s pressure on, then we’re on. It was a wake-up.”


Mattawan needed to rally once again because Western’s first hit of the game was a home run over the center-field fence by Carpenter on the first pitch of the fourth inning.

The Warriors (37-3) were in a position to win a third straight 1-0 decision. Hannah Leppek was just as dominant in the circle for Western, striking out 10 and giving up only six hits. She had thrown 40 straight shutout innings until Mattawan scored twice in the decisive sixth inning.


“Ahead 1-0, I knew we had six outs to go. But we also had to go through the top of their lineup,” Western coach Rick Garlinghouse said. “That was the third time seeing our pitcher. They have a strong top of the lineup, and they got to us.”


Singles by Johnson and Abby Stoner with one out gave Mattawan runners on first and third for Havers. After her game-tying bunt, Soltesz slapped a single to center field to score courtesy runner Sarah Hillsburg for the winning run.


“I knew the ball was moving around a lot and I knew I had to square up on it and make sure I got all of the ball,” Soltesz said. “She threw me the perfect pitch. It’s amazing. I can’t really believe it.”


Click for a full box score.


PHOTOS: (Top) Mattawan players celebrate after winning their second Division 1 championship in three seasons. (Middle) Mattawan’s Allie Havers winds up on a pitch during her team’s 2-1 victory over Bay City Western. (Click to see more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Grass Lake Slugger Turner Writing Name All Over MHSAA Record Book

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

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.)