Millington Run Unprecedented, Unforgettable

June 27, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

When they were younger, “they weren’t the best,” Millington softball coach Greg Hudie admitted Thursday in recalling the group that became the core of his varsity the last four seasons.

But these Cardinals made themselves into so much more. While all championship teams are memorable, this one will remain unforgettable for what it accomplished this spring.

Millington – after falling just short in finishing Division 3 runner-up a year ago – returned to Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium two weekends ago and this time left with the school’s first MHSAA championship in any sport.

The MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” for June was one of two title winners during the 2018-19 school year – joining the Ypsilanti Lincoln boys basketball team – to win the first Finals championship in school history.

“Just being the first state championship in our school is pretty remarkable,” Hudie said. “No matter how many we have now, it’s pretty cool that everybody will remember it. If it’s 50 years from now, and we have 10 state championships, this was still the first one. And the group of girls we did it with was very awesome as well, very good all-around – academically, athletically, a really tight family team.”

Millington finished 38-2-1 this spring, capping a four-year run at 150-16-1 with four league, District and Regional titles, three Semifinal appearances and this first championship.

The District title won in 2016 actually was the program’s first, and that year’s postseason run to the Semifinals helped set the tone for a freshman class that would become nearly unstoppable by the end of their careers.

Pitcher Gabbie Sherman, catcher Sydney Bishop, infielders McKenna Slough and Hannah Rabideau and outfielders Elizabeth Bees, Leah Denome and Samantha Ayotte all finished as four-year varsity players. Sherman, Bishop, Slough and Denome started the entire way (Rabideau was slated to do the same but was injured that first season). Current juniors Darrien Roberts and Madi Hahn joined the varsity as freshmen in 2017 when the team’s run ended in the Quarterfinals. Shortstop Sabrina Gates earned a starting job as a freshman in 2018 and then-sophomore Neveah Hendricks moved into the outfield as the team came within a 7-6 championship game loss to Coloma from claiming a first title.

This spring, with all of those players back and freshman Trinity Fessler taking over an outfield spot, Millington blasted through the regular season losing only to eventual Division 1 semifinalist Clarkston and Division 2 semifinalist Eaton Rapids, while defeating back-to-back Division 2 champion Escanaba. The Cardinals outscored their seven postseason opponents by a combined 56-4, closing with an 11-0 shutout of Marine City in the Quarterfinal, 7-1 win over Standish-Sterling in the Semifinal and 8-0 clincher over Schoolcraft in the championship game.

The build-up began long before high school. During elementary, Sherman was the first to start playing higher-level travel ball in the surrounding area. But around the time her class was playing 10-and-under, she and her family decided to play on a team with the other Millington girls – and as the pitcher she was able to carry the load while they were learning the game.

In fact, the team jokingly recalls now how Bishop nearly didn’t make that 10U squad. But Hudie said his catcher has worked harder than anyone he’s coached during a decade leading the program – and by sophomore year she’d earned all-state honorable mention.

This team rewrote the school’s record book, and the home run category is maybe the best example of what these seniors brought to the program. Millington would hit about five home runs a year during Hudie’s first six as coach – then had 44 in 2016, followed by 28, 38 and this spring 48. Bishop broke a decades-old record with 14 homers as a freshman, and Roberts blasted 18 to break the record this spring.

Roberts, Denome, Rabideau, Bishop and Sherman made the Division 3 all-state first team this season. Hahn joined those five on the all-Tri-Valley Conference East first team, with Slough and Gates making the second.

Sherman will continue her career at Kent State, while Denome will play next at Spring Arbor, Rabideau at Mott Community College and Bees at Rochester College. Bishop, who graduated with the GPA over 4.0, had a number of softball scholarship offers and will try to walk on at Oakland University.

“It will be hard to duplicate. Hopefully we can keep it going. … Obviously these girls were paving the way,” Hudie said. “We had a couple of girls before them, had a couple scattered (over more classes), and obviously freshman year they didn’t get to the Semifinal just on their own. But this group kinda showed how to stay together, how to put work in together, and I think that helped the program out most.

“Just showing five or six awesome girls who are willing to put in the time together in the weight room, in the batting cage (what they can accomplish). That really taught our program, our younger girls, and that’s neat.”

Past Teams of the Month, 2018-19

May: Gladstone boys track & field – Read
April: Garden City baseball – Read
March: Holland West Ottawa boys swimming & diving – Read
February: Lowell wrestling – Read
January: Farmington United gymnastics – Read 
December: Warren Woods-Tower wrestling – Read
November: Rochester Adams girls swimming & diving – Read
October: Leland boys soccer – Read
September: Pickford football – Read
August: Northville girls golf – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Millington’s players raise their first MHSAA Finals championship trophy in school history June 15 at Secchia Stadium. (Middle) The Cardinals’ Leah Denome rounds first base after one of her four hits in the title game. (Below) Millington poses with its trophy and in front of the Secchia scoreboard after its championship win.

Owosso Ace's Strikeout Total Stacks Up with State's All-Time Best

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

January 4, 2023

Owosso’s Macy Irelan earned 11 entries in the MHSAA record book over her three-year varsity career that came to a close last spring, most notably with her 1,157 strikeouts despite the 2020 season being canceled due to COVID-19.

Irelan’s career strikeouts were the second-most in the state since the pitching distance was lengthened three feet in 2011. She finished 31-7 last spring with a 1.43 ERA and 414 strikeouts in 229 2/3 innings in earning the Miss Softball Award for pitching.  

She also hit .551 with 21 doubles last season, and her 55 career doubles over 117 games and three seasons made that category career list. She’s continuing her career at Kent State.

See below for more recent additions to the softball record book:


Unionville-Sebewaing’s dominating run to the 2021 Division 4 championship was filled with seven record book-worthy highlights, including many near the top of all-time lists. In going 40-3, the Patriots tied their season record for wins for the second time. Their 502 runs scored ranked third all-time, with their 493 hits tied for ninth, their 114 doubles second, their 49 home runs also tied for ninth, their 431 RBI also second and their 503 strikeouts thrown ranking third. Senior Brynn Polega completed her career with 13 record book entries despite her junior season being canceled because of COVID-19; she added listings for 71 runs, 79 hits, a third-best 28 doubles, 11 homers, 70 RBI, four perfect games pitching and 365 strikeouts, among others. Then-junior Laci Harris made lists with 77 runs, 83 hits, 22 doubles, 14 homers and 78 RBI, while then-junior Macy Reinhardt was added for 78 runs and then-freshman Gabriella Crumm was added for 16 doubles. Polega, Harris and Reinhardt also posted entries for single-game accomplishments. Polega is playing at Northwood and Harris at Madonna.

Big Rapids set a school record for wins in 2021 in finishing 34-7, a run which included a number of accomplishments that reached the record book. The Cardinals scored 439 runs – tied for 12th on that list – and also as a team were added for 428 hits, 82 doubles and 363 RBI, which tied for 10th all-time. Marissa Warren made the individual hits list with 71, while Hanna Smith earned an entry with 20 doubles and Rylie Haist followed with 19. Josie Cornell was added with 40 walks drawn. Warren, Smith and Haist were added for single-game accomplishments as well, as was Madison Affer from a 2019 game. Haist, Smith and Cornell are seniors this school year, and Warren is a junior. Smith has signed with Ferris State.

A pair of Bad Axe standouts earned record book entries in 2021 with their work at the plate. Haley Newland made the single-season doubles list with 19, and Brooke Messing was added for seven RBI in a game that saw her hit a grand slam and three-run homer. Newland graduated last spring and Messing is a senior this school year.

Montrose then-freshman Lainey Cannon made two record book lists with her performance April 25 against Montrose. She hit three home runs to make the single-game list in that category, and also made the single-game RBI list with eight.

Capac then-sophomore Madalyn Roberson made the record book three times with her performance May 9 against Brown City. She hit two home runs in back-to-back at bats, both during the fifth inning, and also drove in six runs for the game.

Spring Lake standouts now fill the record book after the addition of 55 individual and 23 team entries dating back to the 2000 season. Among listings ranking highest in their respective categories were Madelyn Nelson’s 81 runs in 2018, which tied for seventh all-time; Nelson’s 250 career runs from 2015-18) that rank seventh and Lauren Hellman’s 249 career runs also from 2015-18 that rank eighth on that list; Nelson’s 84 hits in 2018 that are tied for 12th-most all-time and her 264 career hits that rank 11th, Leah Vaughan’s 26 doubles in 2019 that rank seventh, Evie Lorimer’s 16 triples in 2011 that are tied for eighth and her 37 career triples from 2010-12 that are ranked fourth, Vaughan’s 23 career times being hit by pitch from 2016-19 which rank second, and Lorimer’s 92 stolen bases in 2012 that rank second (with all 92 coming consecutively to tie for fifth on that list) and 183 career steals that rank 11th. As a team, Spring Lake in 2017 ranked seventh all-time with 501 hits over 42 games, fourth with 109 doubles and eighth with 34 triples. The 2018 team ranks 11th with 441 runs scored over 41 games, 10th with 497 hits and tied for ninth with 100 doubles. Valerie Alter, Linsey Paggeot, Jenna Core, Molly Poole, Alicia Mumby, Leah Anton, Ann Marie Galloway and Rachael Adams also earned individual entries. Nelson went on to play at Grand Valley State, Vaughan plays at Aquinas College, Lorimer played at Central Michigan, Alter played at Jacksonville University (Fla.), Poole plays at Cornerstone University and Mumby played at Lansing Community College. Core plays volleyball at Hope College.

Freeland’s offense earned five record book entries during the team’s 26-12 season in 2022, including for 412 runs scored, 442 hits, 78 doubles, 336 RBI and a .400 team batting average. Three individuals also earned entries – sophomore Addie Steffen for a 20-game hitting streak and seven RBI in a game, junior Evelynn Rybicki for six RBI in a game and freshman Brynn Jaime for getting hit by a pitch twice in the same inning.

Chloe Parker hit .604 last spring and made the records with 20 doubles over 33 games for Niles Brandywine. She’s a junior this school year.

A series of record book entries were added for past and present Zeeland West standouts. Carly Sleeman was added for 73 runs, 75 hits, 27 doubles and 12 home runs in 2021 as a sophomore, while Lily Brower was added for 72 runs, 17 triples and 11 homers, plus 38 doubles and 29 triples over a four-year varsity career. Sleeman’s 27 doubles are tied for fifth-most in one season, and Brower’s 17 triples are tied for fourth on that list. Haley Hoogenraad was added for 70 hits and 17 doubles as a junior in 2015, 19 doubles as a senior, and 49 doubles and 24 triples over her four-year career from 2013-16. Kenzie Siersma was added for 17 doubles in 2017 and 54 over her career from 2016-19, while Courtney Sleeman made the season home runs list with 15 in 2015 and Sarah VanValkenburg made the career RBI list with 152 from 2014-17. Emily Brands was added for hitting consecutive home runs in the same inning, May 7 against Reese; she graduated this spring. Hoogenraad went on to play at University of Michigan, Courtney Sleeman played at Western Michigan, Siersma plays at West Virginia Tech, Brower played last season at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and Carly Sleeman has signed with Central Michigan.

PHOTO Owosso’s Macy Irelan unloads a pitch during the 2021 Division 2 Final.