Pitcher Shows Mercy to 1st Diamond Title
June 18, 2016
By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING — Andrea Elmore's confidence was never shaken.
Even if she wasn't pitching her best, she knew that she had one of the most potent offenses in Michigan to back her up.
"Having a strong offense always builds confidence," she said.
After winning back-to-back slugfests to reach the MHSAA Division 1 softball championship game, second-ranked Farmington Hills Mercy rode the shutout pitching of Elmore to a 4-0 victory over top-ranked Macomb Dakota on Saturday at Michigan State University.
It was the first MHSAA softball title for Mercy, a perennial powerhouse which lost in the Semifinals last season.
"Last year we had some amazing people on our team," Elmore said. "I really wish we could have done it last year for them, too. This year, we're a really close team. I consider them my sisters. Getting to do this one last time, it was emotional yesterday after our last practice. It was amazing to get the win as a team."
The Marlins (43-2) won because Elmore was able to keep Dakota in check while preserving a 1-0 lead through six innings. Mercy broke it open with a three-run seventh.
The game was a contrast to Mercy's Quarterfinal and Semifinal victories, games that the Marlins won 11-7 over Lake Orion and 9-6 over Mattawan. Elmore was taken out of the game against Lake Orion.
"Her sense of humor was incredible," Mercy coach Alec Lesko said. "The day after the quarterfinal game, she walked in and said, 'Well, coach, I'm barely making it.' I didn't understand what it was until I read one of the articles. So I said to Andrea, walking out to start the game, 'Well, you're barely still here.' We kind of chuckled. She buckled down. We got that first run and it seemed to light her up. She had that look in her eye. She was golden. It's one of the best performances I've seen."
Elmore allowed only five hits and one walk, striking out five.
"My team made all the plays when I pitched it to them," she said. "For me, the heat definitely helped, and my pitches were working well. I felt really confident. Just having them around me and thinking this is our last game really pumped me up to do well."
Lesko didn't actually think Elmore pitched that poorly against Mattawan.
"She knew it was a mechanical thing that was going wrong, and she just didn't have time to fix it with Lake Orion," he said. "That Mattawan game, there were people who thought she was struggling still. She didn't walk anybody and struck out eight. I don't know about you, but when you're playing a team that hits the ball and scores double-digit runs every day, you've got to give her credit."
Elmore got all of the support she would need in the top of the first inning. Anna Dixon led off with a walk and scored on a triple deep to left field by Sophia VanAcker.
"Especially in a game like this, it's important to come out strong," VanAcker said. "That's one of the things we like about hitting first. We can get out on top and we can take the momentum from the first inning throughout the rest of the game, which is what we did."
Nursing a one-run lead against a team as powerful as Dakota made for some anxious moments for the Marlins, particularly in the fourth inning.
Elmore escaped a jam in the bottom of the fourth after two singles and a wild pitch put Dakota runners on second and third with one out. She struck out Kattie Popko and got Claire Hamlin to pop out to shortstop Shannon Gibbons to end the threat.
"That was huge," Elmore said. "I tried to keep my composure, because I didn't want to get overconfident and then do something wrong. I just tried to stay calm the entire time."
Dakota (38-3) also threatened in the fifth. After Corbin Hison doubled with two outs for her third hit of the game, Elmore got a line out to left field.
"We've been great with two outs and with two strikes all year," Dakota coach Rick Fontaine said. "Today we didn't get swings on the ball like we have been all year. We didn't get the clutch hit when we had the opportunities."
Some of the tension was released in the top of the seventh when Mercy scored three times. Nicole Belans hit the first pitch of the inning over the fence in left field for her third home run of the season, but the Marlins weren't done. Elmore followed with a double, with courtesy runner Julia Kleismit scoring on a sacrifice fly by Megan Satawa.
The Marlins' fourth run had an unfortunate consequence. Shannon Gibbons started to come home on a flyout by Mary Reeber, stopped, then continued to the plate on an overthrow. Star pitcher Kendahl Dunford was covering the plate and got spiked in the left ankle. She was taken out of the game in considerable pain.
Dunford, a junior, has verbally committed to Florida International. She was a huge reason why Dakota won only its second District championship and its first Regional title this season.
Mercy had been to the championship game once before, losing 4-0 to Portage Northern in the 2002 Division 1 Final.
PHOTOS: (Top) Farmington Hills Mercy pitcher Andrea Elmore unwinds toward the plate during Saturday’s Division 1 Final. (Middle) A Mercy runner slides into home plate ahead of a throw to catcher Samantha Bunk.
Owosso Ace's Strikeout Total Stacks Up with State's All-Time Best
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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.