Performance: Schoolcraft's Lydia Goble

May 31, 2018

Lydia Goble
Schoolcraft senior – Softball

The Eagles’ standout shortstop has enjoyed a career full of highlights, and added to her most memorable over two games May 23 against Delton Kellogg. Goble drilled three home runs during the doubleheader to set the MHSAA single-season record at 25 – and counting – and earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

Goble had hit 23 home runs total over her first three high school seasons. But she entered the Delton Kellogg games with 22 this spring, which at the time tied her for the record set last season by both Taylor Dew of Muskegon Mona Shores and Brooke Nadolny of Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse. A shot to right field against the Panthers put Goble alone atop the list, and that accomplishment will join the 17 other entries in the record book that she’d earned entering this season. This spring she’s hitting .564 with 25 home runs and 62 RBI, and heading into this weekend she’s tied for 11th in MHSAA history with 230 career runs scored, tied for 11th with 31 career triples, tied for fifth with 48 career home runs and tied for fifth all-time with 229 career RBI.

Schoolcraft is 26-3 this spring and will play Saturday at Comstock for its third straight Division 3 District title. Goble also the last two seasons led the girls basketball team to a pair of Regional titles, the first in that program’s history. She made basketball all-state this winter averaging 19.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 steals per game as the Eagles finished 25-1 and lost only in the Class C Quarterfinals. Goble will continue her softball career next season at Grand Valley State University, where she’ll study exercise science, and she graduated high school with a 3.7 grade-point average while also taking classes at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. But a few final high school memorable moments could be in store over the next few weeks – she’s only two behind in the race for the career home runs record, and a Regional title in softball would be a program first as well.

Coach (and father) Jim Goble said: “I remember when Lydia was 5 years old and went to a soccer camp.   The guy running the camp was coaching a team that age and right away asked if Lydia could play for him even though she had never played before. He saw that she just (went) all out every time she had an opportunity to get the ball. Thirteen 13 years later, it hasn't changed. She doesn't know anything less than going all out. She does it in basketball and does it in softball and really anytime playing a competitive sport. The other thing I have found unique with her is she is committed to the current sport she is playing. When it is basketball season, we do occasional batting lessons and she'd go to travel ball practices, but her focus and passion was on basketball. Now we are in softball season, and that is what is getting all of her attention. … She loves the game inside of the game! Watching and observing her opponent to take advantage of any weakness she sees, especially when running bases – she loves the challenge of stealing a base. … Lastly, she recognizes that the player she is and the success she has isn't just due to her (but because of) her teammates, her family, her coaches, her friends. I believe that is due in part to her life experiences, her faith in God and just who she is.”

Performance Point: “Before the game I was tied for the record, and my team made sure I knew about that. So I was actually pretty nervous and just wanted to get it over with,” Goble said of the matchup with Delton Kellogg. “My goal was to hit (the record homer) as soon as I could so I could stop worrying about it. They were like, 'Oh, you're tied. Better not strike out.' They were just messing with me. They know it won't get to my head, but they like to have some fun with it. ... (The first homer) just sounded weird coming off the bat, kinda like it was an indoor (foam practice) ball, so it didn't feel very good. I was just hoping it would keep going, and it actually did, so I was just thanking the Lord that I got it over with. (After that) it didn't really matter anymore, so I was just playing my game.”

Power surge: "In the fall before basketball season I worked out with a personal trainer. I definitely found that helped me during basketball season, and I'm assuming that carried over to softball too. That was something different I had never done before. He worked a lot on our core and our endurance – because your core plays into pretty much every part of your body. I just think it overall made me a better player and person."

Multi-sport crossover: “I see my jumping ability, that gets a lot better with basketball and it helps me on the field when I get a line shot over my head and I can go up and get it. And basketball, definitely with my hand-eye coordination from being a shortstop. And being able to read people, what they're about to do on the basketball court helps me see base-runners -- sometimes I can tell when going to steal because they have a different stance, so that helps me.”

Thanks Coach Dad: “It's definitely pretty rough sometimes because he's telling me what to do at home and he's telling me what to do on the field. … (But) at the end of the day he's doing it to help me, and he wouldn't even be coaching if it weren't for me. So it's a good bonding thing for us and definitely strengthened our relationship at our house as well as on the field.”

What a way to finish: “I didn't have any expectations coming into this year for basketball or for softball. God has just blessed me a lot this year. … (Team success) has meant a lot. Last year was the first year we won Regionals for girls basketball; honestly, it felt like we won the state. The school was just so proud of us, and it was a place personally where the girls had never gone. And just to be a part of that and help lead that was amazing. And then to come back this year after losing five seniors and do the same thing again was truly amazing – I didn't even think we'd be able to do it this year. We just came out and played hard every night and it ended up being a great season. Then for softball, freshman year we lost in Districts, and that was a pretty tough loss (3-2 to Gobles in the District Final). Then the next year we ended up winning Districts, and the past two years we’ve lost to Coloma in Regionals – so it's been rough having to see them each year and having them take us out. But we're hoping to change that this year.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2017-18 honorees:
May 24: Corinne Jemison, East Kentwood track & field - Read
May 17: Reagan Wisser, Richland Gull Lake soccer - Read
May 10: Clayton Sayen, Houghton track & field - Read
May 3: Autumn Roberts, Traverse City Central tennis - Read
April 26: Thomas Robinson, Wyoming Lee track & field - Read
March 29: Carlos Johnson, Benton Harbor basketball - Read
March 22: Shine Strickland-Gills, Saginaw Heritage basketball - Read
March 15: Skyler Cook-Weeks, Holland Christian swimming - Read
March 8: Dakota Greer, Howard City Tri-County wrestling - Read
March 1: Camree' Clegg, Wayne Memorial basketball - Read
February 23: Aliah Robertson, Sault Ste. Marie swimming - Read
February 16: Austin O'Hearon, Eaton Rapids wrestling - Read
February 9: Sophia Wiard, Muskegon Oakridge basketball - Read
February 2: Brenden Tulpa, Hartland hockey - Read
January 25: Brandon Whitman, Dundee wrestling - Read
January 18: Derek Maas, Holland West Ottawa swimming - Read
January 11: Lexi Niepoth, Bellaire basketball - Read
November 30: La'Darius Jefferson, Muskegon football - Read
November 23: Ashley Turak, Farmington Hills Harrison swimming - Read
November 16: Bryce Veasley, West Bloomfield football - Read 
November 9: Jose Penaloza, Holland soccer - Read
November 2: Karenna Duffey, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North cross country - Read
October 26: Anika Dy, Traverse City West golf - Read
October 19: Andrew Zhang, Bloomfield Hills tennis - Read
October 12: Nolan Fugate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central football - Read
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Schoolcraft's Lydia Goble winds up to throw out a runner during a game this season. (Middle) Goble powers through a swing. (Photos by Lingering Memories Photography.)

Algonac Diamond Teams Hope Matching Successes Lead to East Lansing

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

May 24, 2023

Kenna Bommarito remembers how many people were in East Lansing a year ago to support her and her Algonac softball teammates at the Division 3 Semifinals.

Bay & ThumbSo, she has an idea of how many people from the town would show up if both the softball and baseball teams were there this time around.

“I think everyone would be,” the junior pitcher said.

There’s a decent possibility that Bommarito’s theory could be tested. The Muskrats softball team is ranked No. 2 in Division 3, and Tuesday night clinched the first Blue Water Area Conference title in program history.

That came one night after the baseball team – ranked No. 1 in Division 3 – also won its first BWAC title. The BWAC was created in 2002, and Algonac was an original member.

“It’s amazing – this town loves it,” said senior baseball player Tyler Schultz. “We’ve got a small community, and everybody is tagging along. I remember last year, a couple of our final postseason games, that was the most people I’ve ever seen at a game. All of the sports here are starting to build up. We have athletes all around the school. I think as time goes on, I think each sport will get better and better.”

Bommarito’s imagined scenario nearly played out a year ago, as both teams made their deepest postseason run.

While the softball team was making its historic run to the Semifinal, the baseball team was making one of its own, advancing to the Quarterfinal for the first time in program history.

Matthew Rix slides into home as a throw comes in.The baseball team’s movement toward this started with the 2017 and 2018 seasons, when the Muskrats won back-to-back District titles.

“We had a couple DI (college) players, and when you have those players come through, it generates excitement through the youth,” said Algonac baseball coach Scott Thaler, who took over the program in 2017. “It’s been a trickle-down effect from that initial first two years. That really set the bar. We’ve had some really good baseball players come through, and I have a great staff.”

Thaler had stressed back then that he wanted to build a program at Algonac and not have it be a flash in the pan. That certainly looks like it’s happening, and not just because his Muskrats are winning and sitting atop the state rankings.

Algonac – which has fewer than 500 students in the entire school – has junior varsity and freshman baseball teams. Thaler also said there are 25 eighth graders coming into the program next year.

“I think that when I was smaller in little league, we didn’t really have that where we went out on the field with the varsity players,” said junior pitcher Josh Kasner. “Now, that’s gotten a lot better. A lot of the smaller kids we see around town, they know who we are and about (the program).”

Of course, talent wasn’t enough to get there. Thaler needed to instill belief in his team in order to help the younger generation see what was possible.

“I was a (football assistant) coach under Scott Barnhart, and one of the things we preached to the kids back then is ‘To believe in the things you haven’t seen before,’” Thaler said. “That’s the mantra we brought to them last year, ‘Why not us?’ Just because it hasn’t happened before here doesn’t mean you can’t believe in that. We had to get them to believe.”

The Quarterfinal run provided proof beyond the belief for the Muskrats, and then the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association added to it all, naming Algonac the preseason No. 1 team in Division 3.

Luckily for Thaler, his team took it in stride.

The Muskrats huddle up in the baseball outfield.“I mean, it was a great feeling, but part of me had some doubts,” Schultz said “We’ve got some younger kids on the team, and I thought that maybe they might look at that and might get complacent, but me and some of the other seniors have done a good job of keeping all of these guys looking forward. We’ve still got one goal, and that’s to finish (with a Finals title).”

While the softball team didn’t enter the season with a No. 1 ranking, the expectations were certainly there, as was a new target on its back.

But bigger than both was motivation following a walk-off loss to Millington in the Semifinal.

“I think it just shows us that in those big games with those types of teams, you can never say never,” said first-year softball coach Natalie Heim, who was an assistant on last year’s team. “You really have to bear down. That Millington team that beat us, they fought hard. But I definitely think it fuels us more to get back.”

The softball program’s rise may have seemed more sudden to those on the outside, but senior Ella Stephenson said it had been bubbling for a while.

“My sophomore year, we had some talent for sure,” she said. “We had a really good season, but not as good as junior and senior year. The class above me was really talented. But they kind of turned the program around in my eighth-grade year, and it kind of kept building from there.”

During Stephenson’s sophomore season, the Muskrats lost a tough District game against Richmond, which went on to win the Division 3 Finals title. Not only are the Blue Devils a common early postseason opponent for the Muskrats, they’re also a conference rival. As is Almont. And Croswell-Lexington. And … It’s a brutal conference.

The Algonac softball team stands together for a team photo.So, much like the baseball team, even during the softball team’s historic 2022 season, winning the conference this spring proved to be tougher than making a deep postseason run.

That made Tuesday night’s sweep of North Branch to clinch the BWAC that much sweeter.

“Honestly, it’s a rush of just happiness,” Bommarito said. “We’re all so excited and just can’t believe we did it. We just played game-by-game today, and really took it one pitch, one out at a time.”

Not only has the BWAC prepared the Muskrats for the possibility of another deep postseason run, it helped keep them focused throughout the season.

“I think a lot of teams don’t have that luxury of facing the best competition during the season,” Heim said. “I think it keeps (the Muskrats) not looking too far ahead. We try to have that approach of one game at a time, one inning at a time, one pitch at a time. It helps with having goals that are a little tougher to achieve. Winning our league, it’s tough. It’s not an easy feat. Especially after last year’s success, it would have been easy to look ahead.”

Now, with league titles secured, both teams can focus on their ultimate goals and the postseason that is directly in front of them.

All with the hope that their similarities – on top of the league titles, both teams are 29-2 as of Wednesday, and both have a University of Michigan-bound player (Kasner and Stephenson) – continue through the third weekend of June with matching trips to East Lansing.

“That’d be unreal. That would be so cool,” Stephenson said. “We all have really good friendships on the baseball and softball teams. Our records are identical. We both won our conference. It’s just really cool. I’m really happy for their success, and ours, too.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Algonac pitcher Kenna Bommarito makes her move toward the plate during last season’s Division 3 Semifinal against Millington. (2) Matthew Rix slides into home as a throw comes in. (3) The Muskrats huddle up in the baseball outfield. (4) The Algonac softball team stands together for a team photo. (Baseball photos and softball team photo courtesy of the Algonac athletic department.)