EAST LANSING – Owosso High School sports hadn’t done much on the state finals level over the last couple of years – until Saturday.
Surviving two Marysville homers and two errors, junior pitcher Macy Irelan kept the Vikings at bay enough to lead the Trojans to an 8-5 victory that clinched the Division 2 softball championship at Michigan State’s Secchia Stadium.
The championship was Owosso's first MHSAA Finals title in any sport.
Irelan won all 37 games for the Trojans (37-3) this season, but none bigger than Saturday’s.
“We fell behind, but we wanted to come back to show we deserved this,’’ said Irelan, who had an 0.55 ERA coming into the game. “It was a good team win. How the game worked out and how it went, we were going to do our best.’’
No-hit through two innings with four strikeouts, Marysville’s hitters looked like they were in for a long morning against Owosso’s Irelan.
That all changed in the third inning when pitcher Kirsten Smith helped her own cause with a three-run homer.
“I can’t tell you how many years this game took off my life,’’ said Owosso coach JoEllen Smith, who has led the program to 808 wins since taking over in 1983. “That was a huge emotion. Then we had a couple of plays that went against us. Our kids muscled through it. Postseason has been huge for us. They’ve never given up.’’
Owosso got on the board first on an RBI double up the centerfield gap by first baseman Reyn Tuttle in the first inning. Jamie Maier stretched the lead to 2-0 on a blast over the centerfield field fence to lead off the second.
Irelan had the Marysville hitters under control until the third inning. She gave up singles to Brandi Bassett and Avery Woodard before Smith stunned Owosso with a three-run homer over the centerfield fence to give the Vikings a 3-2 lead.
“Give Owosso credit; their pitcher is tremendous,’’ said Marysville coach Ryan Rathje. “We got some hits off her and put the ball in play. Owosso has some strong bats throughout their lineup. They were able to come up with some key hits, and they had some good defensive plays.’’
Marysville (31-7) – making its first championship game appearance since 1991 – continued to pound the ball, getting a homer from Callie Perrin to make it 4-2 in the fourth inning. Avery Wolters followed with a double. An error made it 5-2 and it would’ve been worse, but the Vikings had a runner thrown out at home.
Owosso began its comeback in the bottom of the fourth inning, leading off with three-straight singles followed by Madyson Rainey’s hit driving in a run to make it 5-3. Irelan came through with a double to center to tie the game at 5-5 with Marysville still looking for the inning’s first out. Owosso then took a 6-5 lead on a bounce-out to complete the four-run rally.
The Trojans added two more runs in the fifth inning. Kendall Anderson doubled and scored when Sydney Somers laced a singled to center. A throw trying to catch Somers at second went into the outfield, and she eventually scored as well.
Marysville led off the seventh inning with consecutive hits to put runners at first and third. But Irelan got two pop flies and a strikeout to seal the victory.
PHOTOS: (Top) Owosso catcher Karley Kincaid gets a tag down as a Marysville runner reaches for the plate. (Middle) The Trojans celebrate after the last out of Saturday's Division 2 Final.
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