EAST LANSING – Dylan Holmes arrived at second base and crumbled to her knees as her teammate, Trinity Fessler, crossed the plate.
In a matter of an inning, the Millington senior’s emotions went from devastation to jubilation.
Holmes delivered a walk-off double as the Cardinals defeated Evart 3-2 in eight innings in a thrilling Division 3 Final at Secchia Stadium.
It was the second straight walk-off victory for Millington, which defeated Algonac in the Semifinal on Friday by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“We’ve worked for this since we were 8 years old,” Holmes said. “It’s awesome to finally have it pay off. When I got to second base, I was just shook. It was over, and we did it. We won a state championship.”
Holmes, a shortstop, made a crucial error with two outs in the top of the seventh inning that allowed Evart to score the game-tying run and send it to extra innings.
She quickly made amends with the big knock that gave Millington its second Division 3 title over the last four years.
“It was a great feeling to know that even though I did make those errors that my team was behind me cheering me on,” Holmes said. “It was awesome to do that for my team, and I went up there knowing that I needed to get a base hit for my team and advance the runner.”
Fessler, a senior, led off the inning with a single and scored from first base on Holmes’ key hit.
“I was sending her no matter what, and I didn’t care where the ball was,” Cardinals coach Greg Hudie said. “Trinity is the fastest girl on the team, and it was a chance I was willing to take. I was going to make them make a great throw.
“Dylan had two costly errors, and I’m very grateful that she was able to come through and help the team out in a positive way and win the game.”
Senior Ashley Ziel picked up the win after striking out nine in eight innings of work.
“This just means everything,” said Ziel, who also had two hits. “Two straight walkoffs on two separate days just shows the grit and determination of our team and how we pulled it together and got the win today.”
Ziel was one of Holmes’ biggest supporters.
“She had a tough go in the field, but I told her, ‘You're going to get this right now,’ and she did,” Ziel said. “She hit that base hit and saved the day.”
Millington won despite committing an uncharacteristic five errors.
“Obviously, not our best game,” Hudie said. “I don’t think we had a game this year where we had three or more errors, so we didn’t play clean ball. But we played together and finished it out somehow.”
Millington struck first in the bottom of the third inning when Kendall Payne scored on a sacrifice fly from Lilia Sherman.
Evart tied it in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly and throwing error that scored Brooklyn Decker, who walked to open the inning.
Fessler singled to open the sixth inning and then scored the go-ahead run on a double by senior Emma Dickie.
Evart rallied to tie it in a wild top of the seventh inning.
“They just worked their tails off and persevered,” said Wildcats coach Amanda Brown, whose team was searching for its first Finals title.
“We were down, then we were tied and it was amazing. They kept their grit, and they did a great job. I'm really proud of them, and it was a fun game to watch. It was competitive, and that's all you can ask for.”
PHOTOS (Top) Millington catcher Trinity Fessler puts the tag on Evart’s Calli Duncan during Saturday’s Division 3 Final. (Middle) Ashley Ziel fires a pitch for the Cardinals.
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