Preview: 4 Take Next Step for 1st Time

June 10, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Most teams journeying to Secchia Stadium at Michigan State University this weekend will be doing so for the first time, as this is only the second season MSU has hosted MHSAA Softball Finals weekend.

But for Caledonia, Carleton Airport, St. Clair and Montague, the trip will be a little more special – all four will be playing in an MHSAA Semifinal for the first time in their histories.

See below for a schedule of this weekend’s games, plus glances at all 16 teams that will take the field beginning Thursday.

Semifinals – Thursday
Division 1
Caledonia vs. Farmington Hills Mercy, 3 p.m.
Warren Regina vs. Mattawan, 5:30 p.m.

Division 2
Frankenmuth vs. Carleton Airport, 10 a.m.
Wayland vs. St. Clair, 12:30 p.m.

Semifinals – Friday
Division 3
Pinconning vs. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, 3 p.m.
Bronson vs. Montague, 5:30 p.m.

Division 4
Kalamazoo Christian vs. Hillman, 10 a.m.
Holton vs. Unionville-Sebewaing, 12:30 p.m.

Finals – Saturday
Division 1: 12:30 p.m.
Division 2: 10 a.m.
Division 3: 5:30 p.m.
Division 4: 3 p.m.

Tickets cost $8 per round and include admission to baseball and girls soccer games that day also at MSU’s Old College Field. Radio broadcasts of all games can be heard online at All games will be streamed live online at MHSAA.TV and viewable on subscription basis.

All statistics below are through at least the regular season, with most through teams' Regionals. (Click for links to brackets and scores.)


Record/rank: 33-4, No. 3
Coach: Tom Kaechele, 14th season (288-165)
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference White.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Samantha Gehrls, fr. P (.582, 35 R, 10 2B, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 19-1 pitching, 1.11 ERA, 159 K); Ashley Miller, sr. SS (.454, 53 R, 9 3B, 12 SB); Hannah Horvath, jr. 2B (.443, 49 R, 11 2B, 31 RBI, 13 SB).
Outlook: Caledonia won its first Regional title last weekend and eclipsed 30 wins for the second straight season despite replacing graduated all-state pitcher Morgan Swift. Freshman Gehrls has been phenomenal keying this program-best run; the Fighting Scots eliminated No. 4 Hudsonville in the Regional Final and honorable mention Midland in the Quarterfinal. She’s surrounded by strong bats – six Scots are hitting at least .396, including junior catcher Lexi Lieske (.396), junior first baseman McKenna Dixon (.406) and senior designated player Danielle Oracz (.451).

Record/rank: 27-3, No. 5
Coach: Alec Lesko, first season (27-3)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central.
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2002.
Players to watch: Abby Krzywiecki, jr. 1B/P (.594, 12 HR, 56 RBI, 10-1 pitching, 2.98 ERA); Alex Sobczak, sr. C (.436, 55 R, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 11 SB); Sophia VanAcker, soph. LF (.545, 32 R, 26 RBI, 11 SB);
Outlook: Mercy won its first Regional title since 2007 with a team that should have an opportunity at multiple trips to Finals weekend. Sobczak was an all-state first-teamer last season but is one of only two seniors who start and three total on the team. Krzywiecki earned all-state honorable mention last season and will finish this one with multiple entries in the MHSAA records for her offensive prowess. She provides another strong arm to ace junior Andrea Elmore, who came into the week 15-2 with a 1.44 ERA and 143 strikeouts in just under 112 innings pitched.

Record/rank: 31-12, honorable mention
Coach: Alicia Smith, 15th season (400-177-1)
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East.
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2013 and 2011, runner-up 2012.
Players to watch: Joanna Bartz, soph. 3B (.433, 51 R, 13 2B, 12 HR, 63 RBI); Genny Soltesz, jr. 2B (.544, 66 R, 15 SB); Alexis Taube, soph. SS (.504, 49 R, 16 2B, 11 HR, 65 RBI).
Outlook: Mattawan was an extra-inning run in the 2012 Final from winning three straight titles, and after a year away is back at Finals weekend. Bartz earned an all-state honorable mention last season as a freshman, and she and Taube are the main run producers in a lineup loaded with five hitters batting .at least .433. The team has scored 415 runs – good for 11th in MHSAA history – and despite playing a loaded regular-season schedule and having to eliminate No. 1 Portage Central and No. 10 Plymouth during the playoffs. Junior first baseman Amber Mazahem (.455) and freshman pitcher Emily Koperdak (.441) are among additional top hitters, with Koperdak also 19-8 with a 3.28 ERA.

Record/rank: 25-16, honorable mention
Coach: Diane Laffey, 45th season (1,116-439-3)
League finish: Third in Detroit Catholic League Central.
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2007).  
Players to watch: Gina Munson, sr. C/3B (.333, 31 RBI); Marissa Tiano, sr. P/DP (.403, 13 2B, 25 RBI); Riley Hison, sr. 2B (.431, 37 R, 22 RBI).
Outlook: Regina won its 19th straight District title this spring, but is back at the Finals for the first time since finishing a run of four straight MHSAA titles from 2004-07. Laffey is the winningest coach in Michigan softball history, predating the start of the MHSAA tournament by more than a decade. Regina may have more losses than anyone left in Division 1, but it also has handed Mercy its only three losses this season. Munson earned an all-state honorable mention in 2014 and catches Tiano and junior Nicole Roeske, who was 10-6 with a 2.84 ERA entering the week.


Record/rank: 36-4, honorable mention
Coach: John Warren, 21st season (520-222)
League finish: Tied for first in Huron League.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Emily Bindus, jr. P (.513, 37 R, 17 2B, 52 RBI, 23-1 pitching, 0.75 ERA, 216 K); Lauren French, sr. SS (.439, 52 R, 14 2B, 48 RBI); Alyssa Lang, soph. 2B (.496, 54 R, 16 2B, 39 RBI).
Outlook: Airport has been surging over a few years to reach this point, winning its first Regional title since 2009 and earning its first Semifinal berth after winning a third straight District and second league title in three seasons. The Jets scored in double figures in nearly half its wins, 16, with five hitters scoring at least 30 runs total this season. Senior catcher Carleigh Cousino adds another big bat, entering the week hitting .437 with 33 runs scored and 38 driven in. Airport has won 25 of its last 26 games; that only loss was in the regular-season finale, 1-0 to Division 3 No. 1 Monroe St. Mary.

 36-3-1, No. 10
Coach: Brad Walraven, sixth season (186-49)
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference East.
Championship history: Class C champion 1991, Division 3 runner-up 2011.
Players to watch: Amariah Wright, sr. P/1B (.472, 13 2B, 6 HR, 58 RBI, 22-1 pitching, 1.00 ERA, 198 K); Andrea Perlberg, sr. 3B (.440, 51 R, 35 SB); Makenzie Sipes, sr. 2B (.409, 38 R, 31 RBI).
Outlook: The Eagles eliminated honorable mention Saginaw Swan Valley in the Regional Final and then No. 6 Escanaba in the Quarterfinal with a lineup boasting six strong seniors led by one of the most successful coaches in MHSAA history in Walraven (1,093-302 in 36 seasons overall). Senior Kayla Brooks (13-2, 1.74 ERA) gives the team deeper pitching than most and also plays first base – she made the all-state first team last season – and senior left fielder Alyssa Jarlock adds a .371 average to the middle of the lineup. Sophomore shortstop Hannah Karwat is the lone non-senior among the top six, cleaning up with a .394 average.

Record/rank: 23-12, unranked
Coach: Kevin Mahn, ninth season (196-93-1)
League finish: Third in Macomb Area Conference Red.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Chelsea Schweiger, sr. CF (.500, 41 R, 15 SB); Hannah Gomola, sr. P (.453, 32 R, 10 2B, 30 RBI); Avary Humes, sr. SS (.408, 12 2B, 32 R).
Outlook: St. Clair made Quarterfinals in 2012 and 2013 and won a District title last season before breaking through this spring for its first Semifinal berth. The Saints eliminated No. 7 Croswell-Lexington in the Regional Final and have outscored its five tournament opponents by a combined 51-14. Schweiger earned an all-state honorable mention last season and is one of five senior starters. Another, Miranda Greig, hits .367 and was 8-5 pitching with a 2.63 ERA heading into this week.

Record/rank: 34-2, No. 1
Coach: Cheri Ritz, 20th season (670-132)
League finish: First in O-K Gold.
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2006.
Players to watch: Mallory Teunissen, sr. P/OF (.349, 30-2 pitching, 0.23 ERA, 365 K); Abby Merice, fr. P/OF (.509, 43 R, 11 2B, 38 RBI, 17 SB); Morgan Teunissen, sr. 1B (.422, 41 R, 20 RBI, 11 SB); Caroline Miller, sr. 2B (.450, 47 R, 34 RBI, 15 SB).
Outlook: The Wildcats returned to the Semifinals in 2014 for the second time in three seasons and fell by a run in 10 innings; they could take the next step led by Mallory Teunissen, who is striking out an average of two batters per inning. Wayland has an argument as the best team of the regular season, having shut out both Division 1 No. 1 Portage Central and eventual semifinalist Mattawan. The lineup is a mix of strong seniors, one of only two juniors, and dynamic underclassmen; senior shortstop Hailey Houck (.414, 40 RBI) and freshman outfielder Sydney Urban (.418, 38 RBI) are among more dangerous hitters.


Record/rank: 36-7, unranked
Coach: Becky Gray, 10th season (294-86-1)
League finish: First in Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference East.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Kinslea Blouin, sr. SS (.556, 52 R, 15 2B, 68 RBI, 16 SB); Skyler Sobeski, sr. P (.547, 62 R, 20 2B, 11 HR, 65 RBI, 24-3 pitching, 0.65 ERA, 209 K); Kelsey Robinson, jr. CF (.486, 63 R, 23 SB).
Outlook: Bronson has won 17 straight including 5-0 and 5-1 wins over No. 5 Buchanan near the end of the regular season; the Vikings outscored their five playoff opponents by a combined 44-1 and haven’t given up a run since Parchment scored the lone one in Bronson’s first District game. Sobeski was all-state first team and Blouin earned an honorable mention last season, but Hannah Hoover (.352) is the only other upperclassmen. There are nine underclassmen including eight freshmen, four who start.

Record/rank: 35-5, No. 1
Coach: John Morningstar, first season (35-5)
League finish: Tied for first in Huron League. 
Championship history: Three runner-up finishes (most recent 2007).
Players to watch: Meghan Beaubien, soph. P; Ellie Cepo, sr. C. (Statistics not submitted.)
Outlook: St. Mary won its first league title since 2008 and first District and Regional titles since that last runner-up season of 2007. The Kestrels eliminated No. 3 Napoleon in the Quarterfinal, and two of its losses were to teams playing in semifinals in bigger-school divisions (Airport and Mercy). They haven’t given up a run in five MHSAA tournament victories. Beaubien made the all-state first team last season as a freshman.

Record/rank: 22-12, unranked
Coach: Doug Rice, second season (36-24)
League finish: Third in West Michigan Conference.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Kenadee Shugars, sr. P (.422, 50 R, 7 HR, 38 RBI, 14-10 pitching, 2.61 ERA, 208 K); Linze Neubauer, sr. 1B (.432, 31 R, 33 RBI); Hannah Smith, soph. 2B (.410, 33 R).
Outlook: Montague has improved eight wins so far from Rice’s first to second season and will play in the Semifinals for the first time in program history. The Wildcats have won eight straight and 12 of their last 13 games after starting the spring 7-8. All 11 regulars hit at least .293 and seven hit at least .362; sophomore McKenna Lohman and junior Brandi Rice add punch in the middle of the lineup hitting .396 and .390, respectively. Shugars had 21 extra-base hits total entering the week – nine doubles and five triples to go with her seven home runs.

Record/rank: 30-13, No. 8
Coach: Fred Yanoski, third season (79-42)
League finish: First in North East Michigan Conference.
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2000), one runner-up finish.
Players to watch: Josie Lavrack, sr. OF (.471, 56 R, 13 2B, 28 RBI); Gabby Yanoski, sr. 2B (.420, 50 R, 51 RBI); Malinda Talaga, sr. SS (.413, 46 R, 10 2B, 6 HR, 50 RBI).
Outlook: Pinconning has a rich softball tradition, with 27 straight league titles, but is returning to Finals weekend for the first time since 2004 after winning its first Regional title since 2010. The Spartans advanced in part by eliminating honorable mention Harrison, No. 4 Saginaw Valley Lutheran and No. 7 Reese. Talaga earned an all-state honorable mention last season and is among a strong group of five seniors, four who start. Junior Danielle Amlotte (20-10, 2.86 ERA) and sophomore Tegan Ferguson (9-3, 2.22) have handled the pitching duties, and junior Kayla Gauthier (.407, 48 RBI) adds another big bat to a lineup that had 25 home runs total entering the week.


Record/rank: 30-3, honorable mention
Coach: Rich Price, first season (30-3)
League finish: Second in North Star League.
Championship history: 1996 Class D runner-up. 
Players to watch: Vanessa Schook, soph. P/SS (.528, 45 R, 14 2B, 22 SB, 10-1 pitching, 1.31 ERA); Morgan Armon, soph. SS/3B (.500, 37 R, 23 RBI); Alissa Jones, sr. CF (.500, 35 R, 14 2B).
Outlook: Price took over the program this season after nine years as an assistant and has led the team to its first Regional title since 1999 and first Semifinal since 1996. Five regulars hit at least .400 and six hit at least .363 including the team’s three seniors, Jones, Eden Hunt (.403) and Courtney Sauer (.363). Schook is expected to get the start pitching, but has split those duties with sophomore third baseman Morgan Dove (.435, 14-2 pitching, 2.42 ERA); they are two of eight underclassmen on the roster.

Record/rank: 37-0, No. 3
Coach: Kirk Younts, first season (37-0)
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association Silver.
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Ashley Friend, sr. C (.661, 18 2B, 63 RBI); Rachel Younts, sr. P (.320, 13 2B, 26-0 pitching, 0.84 ERA, 185 K); Jacki Stone, sr. OF (.617, 52 R, 17 2B, 50 RBI).
Outlook: Holton has made a Semifinal once before, in 2013, and can finish off one of the most tremendous seasons in MHSAA history if its closes with a championship. The Red Devils advanced by beating No. 7 Coleman in the Quarterfinal and won a league filled with larger opponents while keeping opponents at two runs or fewer in 29 games. Stone made the all-state first team last season, and Friend and Rachel Younts earned honorable mentions. The lineup opens with two more .400-plus hitters in sophomore rightfielder Emily Larabee (.487, 60 R) and senior shortstop Katie Wildfong (.431, 60 R), who also was 8-0 pitching with a 1.60 ERA heading into the week.

Record/rank: 28-14, No. 8
Coach: Terry Reynolds, second season (56-31)
League finish: First in Kalamazoo Valley Association.
Championship history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2013), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Kara Gjeltema, jr. SS (.541, 48 R, 17 2B, 9 HR, 66 RBI); McKena Razenberg, jr. OF (.504, 63 R, 32 RBI, 24 SB); Aliyah Lemmer, soph. P (.369, 14 2B, 37 RBI, 15-13, 2.61 ERA).
Outlook: Kalamazoo Christian was Division 4 runner-up last season after winning the title in 2013, and no team in MHSAA history has played in more softball championship games. Gjeltema and senior second baseman Hannah Rozeveld (.285, 35 R, 25 RBI) are returning all-state first-team selections, and those two plus Lemmer and Razenberg played in last season’s Final, a one-run loss to Rogers City. Junior Haley Sikkenga provides another useful pitching option, sitting at 12-1 with a 3.35 ERA heading into this week.

Record/rank: 36-3, No. 1
Coach: Steve Bohn, fourth season (154-13)
League finish: First in Greater Thumb Conference West.
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Breanna Dinsmoore, sr. C (.479, 52 R, 15 2B, 11 HR, 55 RBI); Nicole Bauer, jr. P/1B (.463, 33 R, 17 2B, 46 RBI, 23-0 pitching, 0.38 ERA, 191 K); Erica Treiber, sr. CF/P (.429, 15 R in 12 games, 4-1 pitching, 1.27 ERA).
Outlook: After two straight runner-up finishes in Division 3, one a one-run loss and the other coming after nine innings, USA is back in Division 4 where it won its most recent title in 2009 and finished runner-up in 2011. The Patriots have eliminated No. 6 Ubly, No. 9 Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett and No. 10 Waterford Our Lady during this run. Treiber also is back after losing most of her season to an injury – she, Dinsmoore and Bauer all made the Division 3 all-state first team last season. Two others hit better than .400 – junior second baseman Kayla Gremel (.414, 30 RBI) and freshman outfielder Brianna Osentowske (.417), who was promoted when Treiber was injured in April.

PHOTO: Holton third baseman Kaitlynn Mock anticipates a play as a Coleman runner turns toward home during their Quarterfinal on Tuesday. Holton won to remain undefeated and advance to a Division 4 Semifinal. (Click to see more from

She's Back: South Lyon Ace Bradshaw Returns for Another Title Pursuit

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

April 11, 2024

SOUTH LYON — Two words likely won’t sit well with a lot of Division 1 softball teams around the state this year. 

Greater DetroitShe’s back. 

Or to play on the words of former Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger after a Sugar Bowl win in 2019, and others who before and since have added dramatics to the phrase: “She’s baaaaaaaaaaaack.”

“She” is South Lyon senior pitcher Ava Bradshaw. And if anyone who follows high school softball in the state happened to forget that name, let’s do a little refresher. 

Back in 2021, Bradshaw burst onto the scene in her first year of high school and played like a freshman …. in college. 

Bradshaw was a dominant two-way force both pitching and hitting, so much so that behind her, South Lyon won its first MHSAA Finals title, in Division 1. 

In the championship game against Allen Park, Bradshaw threw a three-hit shutout, striking out nine and walking one in a 5-0 South Lyon victory. She also had two RBI.

“I didn’t realize how crazy what we did was,” Bradshaw said. “We really did make that run.” 

Bradshaw was even better as a sophomore and seemed destined to lead South Lyon to a repeat. 

However, a first inning against Mattawan during which everything that could go wrong seemingly did started a 3-1 Quarterfinal loss that stunningly ended those 2022 aspirations. 

But hey, no problem. Bradshaw had two more years to win another championship, right? 

Bradshaw, middle, celebrates with teammates after they won the 2021 Division 1 championship at Secchia Stadium.Then came the summer prior to her junior year, when Bradshaw suffered a torn ACL during her travel ball season. She was hoping to come back at some point last year as a junior, but understandably didn’t want to push anything too hard, especially since by that point she had committed to play in college for Duke. 

This year, it would have been understandable if Bradshaw would have just wanted to sit out her senior year, enjoy the countdown to graduation and simply gear up for the next chapter. 

But Bradshaw was having none of that.

“In high school ball, every day I’m practicing and I’m playing with my friends, playing for my town and for my school,” she said. “That’s an honor, and I have so much fun. I couldn’t imagine not playing my senior year. That would be so sad. When I look back on my high school experience, some of the biggest memories I have come from softball. I couldn’t imagine not finishing what I started.” 

So Bradshaw is indeed back and not only fully healthy, but stronger and hungrier than she ever has been during her high school career. 

Bradshaw said going through rehabilitation for her injury last year has made her better physically. 

“I was forced to do certain movements and exercises that I never would have done had I not been forced to go to (physical therapy),” she said. “I became a more well-rounded athlete. I improved flexibility and mobility.” 

In her first game this season, Bradshaw struck 12 of the 15 batters she faced and went 4-for-4 at the plate. 

“We just plugged her right in,” South Lyon head coach Dave Langlois said. 

Not having Bradshaw last year actually could end up making South Lyon even better this year. 

“I think we were the only ones to score a run on the state champs, Hartland, in our Regional,” Langlois said. “We were one hit away with a young, inexperienced team for the most part. Those kids got to get experience in crucial times (without Bradshaw) when they may not have gotten (it).”

South Lyon probably still would’ve been formidable if Bradshaw decided not to play this year. But adding her back to a talented roster of underclassmen who are a year older and better?

It’s no wonder why “she’s back” might be the most terrifying two words for softball teams not named South Lyon this spring. 

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

PHOTOS (Top) South Lyon’s Ava Bradshaw makes her move toward the plate during a game against Flat Rock this spring. (Middle) Bradshaw, middle, celebrates with teammates after they won the 2021 Division 1 championship at Secchia Stadium. (Top photo by Conner Lipke; middle photo by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)