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.
Ace's 13 listings lead Hudsonville's 50 added to Softball Record Book
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
June 9, 2023
A total of 50 entries covering the last three decades of Hudsonville’s successful history have been entered in the MHSAA softball record book, with 2011 grad Sara Driesenga leading the way with 13 listings.
Driesenga’s most notable was her 0.15 ERA in 2010, which is tied for 10th lowest. Danielle Freeman, a 2013 grad, was added 10 times, including for 85 hits (tied for 10th) in 2012.
Others making lists one or more times were Kenzie Ritsema, Kelly Zackrison, Bethaney Murphy, Grace Sommers, Sydney Burns, Aleigha Talsma, Erica Bosman, Sarah Nederveld, Arinn King, Brooke Agers, Marleah Stapf and Lexi Agers.
Driesenga went on to star at Michigan, Freeman was a standout at Evansville, and Ritsema was a standout at Western Michigan. Zackrison played at Michigan State, Murphy at Saginaw Valley State, Talsma at Campbellsville (Ky.), King at Hope College, Brooke Agers at Muskegon Community College and Stapf at Florida International.
See below for more recent record book entries in softball:
A trio of Beaverton standouts over the last two seasons were added. Alexis Grove led with seven entries including 75 hits, 66 runs and 18 doubles last spring as a senior and 42 doubles and 158 RBI over her four-year career despite the cancellation of the 2020 season. Sawyer Gerow was added for 19 doubles as a senior last spring and 39 over her four-year career, and Molly Gerow was added for 72 hits in 2021. Grove is continuing her career at Northwood.
A pair of Otisville LakeVille Memorial players were added for accomplishments during the 2022 season. Jayla Thompson strung together a 24-game hitting streak beginning May 1 and continuing through her team’s District title run, and she also hit 12 home runs over 36 games. Teammate Mallorie Nevadomski became the third player to be listed for being hit by two pitches in the same inning, which occurred during the first inning of an April 11 game against Mt. Morris. Thompson is a junior this spring, and Nevadomski is a sophomore.
Fowlerville’s Tori Briggs earned her first record book entries last season as a sophomore. She tied the record for most triples in a game with four against Lansing Eastern, and also was added for 20 doubles over 34 games played.
Sabrina Lee was hit by pitches an incredible 33 times over 106 games and three seasons during her Rochester Adams career that ended last spring, and that’s with 2020 being canceled. She sits atop the career HBP list. Additionally, Adams coach Fran Scislowicz was added to the career coaching wins list with 756 since taking over the program in 1988.
Watervliet’s 36-5 run in 2022 included several performances that made record listings including for 476 hits, 438 runs, 349 RBI and 237 stolen bases as a team, and a .401 team batting average. Five players also earned individual entries, led by Samantha Dietz, who was added for 67 runs scored and 71 stolen bases in 74 tries – the latter tying for ninth-most stolen bases in a season. She also was one of four players added for driving in six runs in one game, joined by Abigail Whorton, Addison Riley (twice) and Grace Chisek. Chisek also was added for 75 hits, 75 runs scored, 12 triples and a 26-game hitting streak, and Maddie Flowers made the runs scored list with 73. Riley graduated last year, Dietz is a senior this spring, and Whorton and Chisek are juniors.
Kalamazoo Loy Norrix played a record-setting game against Comstock on April 9, 2021, and Gracie Goschke played a major part. She was added for three home runs in a game, including two grand slams, two home runs and six RBI during the second inning and 10 RBI total that afternoon. A sophomore then, Goschke is a senior this season.
East Kentwood finished a combined 50-28-1 over the 2021 and 2022 seasons, with three players teaming up to earn the program’s first record book entries. Aalana Kimble, a senior this season, tied for second all-time last spring as a junior with 18 triples and also made the records with 71 hits last year and 66 runs and 81 hits as a sophomore. Kelsey Depault was added for 81 hits and 19 doubles in 2021, and Emily Visser – now a junior – was added for 77 hits last season and 17 doubles in 2021. Depault graduated last spring and is playing at Northwood, and Kimble has signed with Saginaw Valley State.
Big Rapids reached the records in five team categories during the 2022 season, with 473 hits, 91 doubles, 344 RBI, 401 runs and a .424 batting average over 39 games. Marissa Warren led the charge, making the records with 70 runs, 79 hits and 21 doubles. She’s a junior this season.
Natalie Wandrie reached the record book six times last season as a junior at Indian River Inland Lakes, most notably for a .717 batting average that ranks sixth all-time for a single season. She also entered this spring on the career home runs list with 23, and hit 15 as a junior. She will play both softball and volleyball at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky.
PHOTO Hudsonville’s Sara Driesenga gets ready to pitch during the 2009 Division 1 championship game. (MHSAA file photo.)