Owosso Softball Rallies for School's 1st Finals Title

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for MHSAA.com

June 19, 2021

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 softballOwosso 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.

Click for the full box score.

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.

Grass Lake Slugger Turner Writing Name All Over MHSAA Record Book

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)