Maves, Tecumseh Finish 'Brilliant' Run

June 15, 2013

By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half


BATTLE CREEK — It’s natural for coaches to worry about the unknown as their teams venture deeper and deeper into the postseason.


Tecumseh softball coach Jeff Nowak is no different.


He imagined some difficult scenarios for his squad once it reached the final week of the MHSAA Division 2 tournament.


“We thought coming into the quarters, we’d run into a buzz saw pitcher where we’d have to win a 1-0 game,” Nowak said. “It turns out we had the buzz saw pitcher. She was the best here, flat-out. She was brilliant.”


The buzz saw the rest of the Division 2 contenders had to worry about was Tecumseh senior Emily Maves.


Maves dominated three state-ranked teams from the Quarterfinals on, striking out 33 batters and allowing only 10 hits in 21 innings against No. 1 Stevensville Lakeshore, No. 2 Livonia Ladywood and No. 7 Saginaw Swan Valley. The only two runs she allowed in those games came in the seventh inning of a game the Indians were leading 5-0.

“It just feels amazing,” Maves said. “I was relaxed out there. I wasn’t nervous at all.”


Maves had a no-hitter going until Kelli Halvin singled up the middle with two outs in the sixth inning. Her shutout bid ended when Reegan Flattery scored on an errant pick-off attempt at third base in the seventh.


“I actually didn’t even know I had a no-hitter going,” Maves said. “I just tried to throw strikes.”


Maves finished with a 21-2 record, but Nowak said she pitched at a different level late in the season.


“She had a few bumps and bruises along the way,” Nowak said. “She only had two losses, but she was prone to have a couple of hiccup innings. Since the Canton tournament when we faced Canton, that’s when she came into her own and has been exceptional since then.”


Tecumseh took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Kelsea Kaliszuk singled home Claire Burnett. The Indians expanded their lead to 2-0 in the fifth when Katie Martin grounded out to second base with McKenzie Rowe on third.


Tecumseh got some breathing room in the seventh by tacking on three runs. Kelsey Rendell delivered the first two runs with a double. Kylie Hill singled in the final run.


“With a two-run lead, I would’ve been a little more nervous,” Nowak said. “Those three runs were huge. Emily went out there feeling good. They put a runner on base (in the seventh), but we were fine at that point. It was just cruise control, get the outs and celebrate.”


Swan Valley had back-to-back singles to lead off the seventh and scored a run, but couldn’t seriously threaten. Maves closed the door with two strikeouts to end the game.


“I thought we finally got relaxed hitting wise in the last two innings, but by that time it was over,” Swan Valley coach Tom Kennelly said.


Swan Valley finished 32-10.


Click for a full box score.


PHOTOS: (Top) Tecumseh players and coaches celebrate their Division 2 championship Saturday. (Middle) Emily Maves prepares to fire a pitch during the Final on the way to her third win over a ranked opponent during the season's last week. (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.)