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.
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.)
The MHSAA and Holly school communities are grieving this week after the sudden loss of Tony Coggins, a shining light in his educational community and an enthusiastic supporter of school sports as a public address announcer for several of our largest championship events.
But while that cheerful tone has been quieted, it surely will not be forgotten by the many fortunate to enjoy an event in the presence of that voice and the joyfulness he brought into every arena, press box and classroom.
Coggins, 51, died Saturday. He is survived by his wife Kristy and children Emma and Bradlee, among several family and friends from his local and greater sports communities.
His career as a PA announcer began during his freshman year of high school in 1985, when his father Dale Coggins – Flushing’s athletic director at the time – couldn’t find anyone else to announce middle school football games. That was 39 years ago, and this fall Tony Coggins was in his 24th announcing at Holly, where he taught and served as an administrator in addition to his role as “Voice of the Holly Bronchos” for football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, competitive cheer and swimming & diving over the years.
Coggins has been a mainstay among MHSAA Finals PA announcers over the last decade in football, basketball, softball and most recently volleyball. He lent his voice to college sports at University of Michigan as well. “Tony was a huge part of our Finals events. It’s hard to imagine it being the same without him,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said.
As part of the run-up to the MHSAA public address announcers clinic in 2018, Coggins said this about what drew him to the microphone:
“I have zero athletic ability whatsoever, which is interesting because my father was an all-state running back. But I enjoy being involved, and I've always been the one for history and statistics and knowing what's going on,” Coggins said. “This is a way for me to be involved. It's a way for me to use a talent I've been given; public speaking has always come pretty naturally for me.
“So I worked at my craft to get better. I got better from watching the people around me, from studying the people I like, and the people – if I saw someone I didn’t care for – I'd make a note and say to myself, ‘Don't do that.’ I take feedback from people very personally, and I mean that in a good way. If somebody takes the time to come up and say, ‘You did this well; I think you should change this,’ that means they care about the program also. We all have the same goal in mind, and that's to make the experience good for the high school student and the parents, the fans, that come there.”
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at St. John Vianney, 2415 Bagley Street in Flint. There will be visitation from 2-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 West Hill Road, and at the church from 10 a.m. Saturday until the time of the Mass.
The Holly volleyball team played for something bigger tonight
Beloved PA announcer Anthony Coggins died on Friday night from a heart attack
— Brandon Green🍀 (@BGreenReports) October 24, 2023