Preview: Familiar Contenders, New Home

June 11, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This weekend, for the first time, the MHSAA Softball Semifinals and Finals will be played at Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium.

But although the tournament’s new stage might be unfamiliar to most, many of the 16 finalists should feel at home playing in championship-deciding games.

Reigning Division 4 winner Kalamazoo Christian is back for more, as are 2013 Division 1 runner-up Bay City Western and Division 3 runner-up Unionville-Sebewaing. Clinton, Gladstone and Livonia Ladywood all played in MHSAA championship games in 2012.

For the first time as well, Semifinal play will begin Thursday and continue Friday with all four Finals on Saturday. Below is this weekend's schedule, followed by a look at each contender. 

Semifinals – Thursday
Division 1
Portage Central (41-3) vs. Utica Ford (30-8) - 10 a.m.
Romeo (31-7) vs. Bay City Western (39-3) - Noon

Division 2
Wayland (42-1) vs. Livonia Ladywood (28-13) - 3 p.m.
Croswell-Lexington (30-1) vs. Stevensville Lakeshore (33-9) - 5 p.m.

Semifinals – Friday
Division 3
Gladstone (28-2) vs. Coloma (34-9) - 10 a.m.
Unionville-Sebewaing (39-0) vs. Clinton (34-4) - Noon

Division 4
Vestaburg (27-8) vs. Kalamazoo Christian (27-16) - 3 p.m.
Fowler (26-6) vs. Rogers City (32-6) - 5 p.m.

Finals – Saturday
Division 1 - 11:30 a.m.
Division 2 - 9 a.m.
Division 3 - 5 p.m.
Division 4 - 2:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $7 per round or $15 for an all-tournament ticket that includes admission to baseball games. Radio broadcasts of all games can be heard online at MHSAAnetwork.com. 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 or Quarterfinals. (Click for links to brackets and scores.)

Division 1

BAY CITY WESTERN
Record/rank: 39-3, No. 4
Coach: Rick Garlinghouse, 10th season (324-77-3) 
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley Association North
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2013.  
Players to watch: Hannah Leppek, jr. P (32-1, 0.70 ERA, 290 K, .507 16 2B, 13 HR, 58 RBI); Meredith Rousse, jr. SS (.549, 61 R, 12 2B, 46 RBI), Kaylynn Carpenter, jr. CF (.508, 51 R, 10 2B, 49 RBI), Blair Miller, jr. LF (.441, 41 R, 25 RBI).
Outlook: Bay City Western is back in the Semifinals for the third time in four seasons and after its first championship game appearance a year ago – it fell just shy of the MHSAA title, losing 2-1 to Mattawan after leading through five innings. The Warriors graduated only three players after 2013, with Leppek a returning all-stater and Rousse and Carpenter honorable mentions last season. Western has won 20 of its last 21 games, with its only losses this season to honorable mention Clarkston, Division 2 No. 6 Bullock Creek and Division 3 No. 7 Sanford Meridian.

PORTAGE  CENTRAL
Record/rank: 41-3, No. 3
Coach: Tom Hamilton, first season of second tenure (75-7) 
League finish: First in Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference East
Championship history: Class A champion 1977, runner-up 1975.
Players to watch: Lea Foerster, sr. OF; Gina Verduczo, sr. P (Stats not submitted.).
Outlook: Portage Central eliminated reigning Division 1 champ Mattawan (9-2) during the District tournament and is in the Semifinals for the first time since 2009. Its only losses were early to Mattawan, then to Division 2 No. 1 Wayland and Division 2 No. 4 Stevensville Lakeshore – although Central beat Lakeshore in the other five games the teams played against each other this spring.  Foerster and Verduczo were all-staters last season. Hamilton formerly coached the team in 2010 and also coached Portage Northern to championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

ROMEO
Record/rank: 31-7, No. 2
Coach: Dave McIntyre, fifth season (138-37) 
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Players to watch: Taylor Weaver, sr. P (24-1, 0.60 ERA, 261 K, .469); Danielle Szajna jr. 1B (.440, 23 R, 23 RBI); Kayla Noch, jr. C (.430, 14 2B, 27 RBI); Morgan Gardner, soph. SS (.463, 32 R, 32 RBI, 16 2B). 
Outlook: After falling by just a run to eventual champion Mattawan in last season’s Semifinal, Romeo has stormed back to Finals weekend with wins over No. 1 Canton, No. 6 Lake Orion and No. 9 Fenton during the tournament. Weaver and Szajna were all-staters last season and Gardner was an honorable mention, and total the top six hitters from that Semifinal lineup are the same as what should take the field this weekend – including centerfielder Geordin Craun at the top and third baseman Erin Barg in the six spot.

UTICA FORD
Record/rank: 30-8, honorable mention
Coach: Matthew Joseph, fourth season (86-42)
League finish: Third in MAC Red
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Players to watch: Gabby Schefka, sr. C; Alex Sorgi, jr. CF/P; Nikki Sorgi, fr. P/IF (Stats not submitted.).
Outlook: Utica Ford is making its first Semifinal appearance after making its first Quarterfinal just a season ago. Schefka and Alex Sorgi earned all-state and honorable mention, respectively, in 2013 and have keyed the team’s taking the next step – they and Nikki Sorgi also fill the top three spots in the lineup. Ford has increased its win total every season since Joseph took over the program.  

Division 2

CROSWELL-LEXINGTON
Record/rank: 30-1, No. 9
Coach: Bob Young, eighth season (196-70)
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final. 
Players to watch: Megan Guitar, jr. P (21-1, 1.77 ERA, 179 K, .392, 4 HR, 41 RBI); Kylee Barrett, sr. SS (.446, 8 HR, 37 RBI); Rebecca Oden, fr. OF (.392).
Outlook: Croswell-Lexington’s lone loss was late to Utica, and it stormed back by outscoring two District opponents by a combined 31-6 and then edging Frankenmuth and No. 8 Saginaw Swan Valley to win its first Regional championship. The Pioneers have been on the verge, however, with this their fifth straight season with at least 30 wins and fourth in five seasons winning their District. All nine starting hitters are batting at least .330. 

LIVONIA LADYWOOD
Record/rank: 
28-13, No. 7
Coach: Scott Combs, seventh season (236-53) 
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic High School League Central
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2012, runner-up 2009.
Players to watch:  Haley Lawrence, sr. SS (.420, 46 R, 18 2B, 39 RBI); Erika Selakowski, soph. 2B (.410, 41 R, 21 2B, 57 RBI); Hallea Garcia, sr. 1B (.415, 40 R, 22 2B, 8 HR, 58 RBI); Christina Meyer, jr. OF (.402, 55 R, 31 RBI, 10 3B, 48 SB); Rozlyn Price, soph. P (240-8, 2.60 ERA, 235 K).
Outlook: Ladywood is making this a regular trip, heading to the Semifinals for the fourth straight season and fifth in six years. Lawrence is a returning all-stater and Selakowski earned an honorable mention last season, and they are big bats in a lineup that earned valuable experience during last season’s run. So did Price, who also earned all-state honorable mention after pitching the Blazers into the Semifinals as only a freshman.

STEVENSVILLE LAKESHORE
Record/rank: 33-9, No. 4
Coach: Denny Dock, 25th season (834-168-1)
League finish: Second in Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference West
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 2011), one runner-up finish. 
Players to watch: Haley Thibeault, sr. P/IF (26-6, 1.09 ERA, 210 K, .471, 14 2B, 10 HR, 57 RBI); Julia Carpenter, soph. CF (.413, 22 SB);. Alex Forsythe, sr. SS (.375, 52 RBI).
Outlook: Lakeshore has won five Regional titles in six seasons and is back in the Semifinals for the first time since winning back-to-back Division 2 titles in 2010 and 2011. The Lancers returned by avenging last season’s Quarterfinal loss to Tecumseh, the eventual champion last spring. Thibeault was an all-state second baseman a year ago but has taken over the majority of pitching duties in addition to leading the team in hitting.

WAYLAND
Record/rank: 
42-1, No. 1
Coach: Cheri Ritz, 19th season (636-129) 
League finish: First in O-K Gold
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2006. 
Players to watch: Sam Merren, sr. OF (.500, 12 2B, 37 SB, 48 RBI); Mallory Teunissen, jr. P (34-1, 1.09 ERA, 252 K, .313); Sierra Mutschler, sr. SS (.523, 16 2B, 11 HR, 83 RBI); Britt McLain, sr. C (.432, 22 SB, 36 RBI).
Outlook: Wayland is back in the Semifinals for the second time in three seasons with an all-state pitcher in Teunissen – but also a talented lineup averaging 12 runs per game. Merren, Mutschler and McLain all also were all-staters a year ago, and they are only three of seven regulars hitting .400 or higher. Mutschler’s RBI qualify as fourth-most for one season in MHSAA history. The Wildcats have won 39 straight games since falling to Hudsonville Unity Christian in their only loss, and have given up only five runs during the tournament including a 7-0 shutout of Unity Christian in the Quarterfinal.

Division 3

CLINTON
Record/rank: 34-4, honorable mention
Coach: Kim Phillip, second season (65-10) 
League finish: First in Tri-County Conference
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (2011 and 2012), one runner-up finish.
Players to watch: Ashleigh Donahey, soph. DH/DP (.500, 55 R, 18 SB, 35 RBI); Kristin Forest, sr. 3B (.477, 52 R, 12 HR, 16 2B, 67 RBI); Elizabeth Barkel, sr. 1B (.454, 36 R, 33 RBI, 12 SB); Megan Burton, soph. P (21-3, 1.34 ERA, 120 K).
Outlook: After missing the Semifinals last season, Clinton is back for the fifth time in six seasons and first time under Philip, who formerly coached Saline and was the assistant at Clinton before taking over the program a year ago. The Redskins are especially strong on the base paths, with 94 stolen bases in 102 attempts entering the week. Only an honorable mention in the final coaches poll, Clinton earned an 8-0 win over No. 10 Napoleon in the Regional Final to highlight this run.

COLOMA
Record/rank: 34-9, honorable mention
Coach: Wendy Goodline, 15th season (389-158-1) 
League finish: First in Wolverine Conference West
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final. 
Players to watch: Makenzie Moody, sr. C (.381, 6 HR, 40 RBI); Jenna Faultersack, jr. SS (.418, 56 R, 10 2B, 22 SB); Emily Najacht, sr. P (25-7, 0.97 ERA, 266 K, .378, 39 RBI).
Outlook: Coloma is making its second Semifinal appearance in three seasons after winning its third straight District title and playing in Division 2 last season; the Comets beat No. 8 Springport 6-2 in Tuesday’s Quarterfinal to return. Coloma prepared by facing many of the best from the Kalamazoo area during the regular season, earning a win over Division 4 Semifinalist Kalamazoo Christian and falling to Portage Central, Stevensville Lakeshore and out-of-area Lake Orion among larger ranked opponents. Faultersack was a Division 2 all-stater last season, and Najacht earned an honorable mention.

GLADSTONE
Record/rank: 28-2, No. 3
Coach: Ashley Hughes, first season (28-2) 
League finish: Does not play in a league.
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), one runner-up finish.  
Players to watch: Jess Beaudry, sr. 1B (.353, 20 RBI); Tinner Sharon, sr. P/3B (.458, 12 SB, 18-1 pitching, 0.92 ERA, 160 K); Lexi Hongisto, jr. SS (.532, 31 RBI, 13 SB).
Outlook: Gladstone has played in the MHSAA Final three of the last 10 years, also finishing runner-up in 2012 and champion in 2004, and won its 12th straight Regional last week. First-year coach Hughes was part of a Quarterfinals team as a player in 2003 and took over this spring after three seasons as an assistant. The Braves have given up only three runs during the tournament, and not more than one in any game. Beaudry was an all-state selection last season.

UNIONVILLE-SEBEWAING
Record/rank: 
39-0, No. 1
Coach: Steve Bohn, third season (116-9) 
League finish: First in Greater Thumb Conference West
Championship history: Three championships (most recent 2009 in Division 4), two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Stephanie Neuman, sr. 2B (.513, 14 2B, 6 HR, 39 RBI); Breanna Dinsmoore, jr. C (.404, 35 RBI); Erica Treiber, jr. P/1B (.514, 14 2B, 7 HR, 49 RBI, 17-0, 0.07 ERA, 173 K); Allison Hoppe, sr. CF (.417, 22 RBI, 11 2B).  
Outlook: USA is making its ninth straight trip to the MHSAA Semfinals after finishing runner-up a year ago. That ERA for Treiber is not a typo – she’d given up only one earned run in 98 innings entering the week, and again teams with sophomore Nicole Bauer (19-0, 0.50 ERA) for an impressive 1-2 pitching punch. Adding in the 10-1 win over No. 9 Reese in the Quarterfinal, USA has beaten its tournament opponents by a combined score of 53-2. Neuman, Dinsmoore and Treiber all are returning all-staters.

Division 4

FOWLER
Record/rank: 26-6, unranked
Coach: Kat Schmitt, fourth season (career record N/A)
League finish: Second in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Players to watch: Tori Wirth, jr. SS; Sydney Feldpausch, jr. P (Stats not submitted.).
Outlook: Fowler is making its first trip to the Semifinals since 1997 after winning its first Regional title since 2002. The Eagles took on their share of larger schools in preparation for the tournament, with wins over Lansing Everett and Eastern, Lake Odessa Lakewood, Owosso and Haslett among others – and the playoff run included a 5-1 Quarterfinal win over No. 7 Westland Huron Valley Lutheran. Wirth earned an all-state honorable mention as a sophomore.

KALAMAZOO CHRISTIAN
Record/rank: 27-16, No. 8
Coach: Terry Reynolds, first season (27-16)
League finish: First in Kalamazoo Valley Association
Championship history: Seven championships (most recent 2013), two runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Tori Sides, sr. CF (.521, 54 R, 24 SB); Rebekah VanDam, sr. P (18-10, 2.94 ERA, 183 K, .366, 34 RBI); Morgan Locker, sr. SS (.368, 11 2B, 47 R, 34 RBI); Kara Gjeltema, soph. C (.523, 13 2B, 10 HR, 62 RBI).  
Outlook: Kalamazoo Christian’s record might seem a little off for a reigning champion returning to the Semifinals, but it also took regular-season cuts against a number of larger opponents including Division 1 or 2 ranked Portage Central, Stevensville Lakeshore and Portland and honorable mention Parchment. Former Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Hackett coach Reynolds took over the program this spring and inherited a number of standouts from last season’s run including returning all-stater Sides.

ROGERS CITY
Record/rank: 32-6, No. 4
Coach: Karl Grambau, 12th season (303-128) 
League finish: Second in North Star League
Championship history: Two runner-up finishes (most recent 2004). 
Players to watch: Sarah Meredith, soph. C (.536, 14 HR, 62 RBI); Logan Fleming, jr. 3B (.545, 15 2B, 8 HR, 45 RBI); Morgan Hall, sr. 1B (.529, 11 2B, 34 RBI); Courtney Streich, sr. SS (.441, 10 2B, 36 RBI).
Outlook: Rogers City is making its second straight trip to the Semifinals with an experienced lineup that makes it hard to pick who should stand out most. In addition to those mentioned above, junior second baseman Alexa Quaine is hitting .515 with 14 doubles and 39 RBI and also is 14-2 pitching with a 1.88 ERA. Centerfielder Cassie Brege (.362, 25 RBI) joined Meredith and Fleming among all-staters last season, when Streich received an honorable mention. Senior Nikki Radke  (16-4) returns as the team’s leading winner in the circle. Rogers City beat No. 3 Posen and No. 10 Rapid River during this run and reigning champion Kalamazoo Christian during the regular season.

VESTABURG
Record/rank: 30-8, No. 6
Coach: Dan Rons, 10th season (258-97)
League finish: First in Mid-State Activities Conference.
Championship history: Class D runner-up 1980.
Player to watch: Jannelle Rons, sr. P (20-2, 1.46 ERA, 143 K, .557, 62 R, 16 2B, 14 3B, 11 HR, 85 RBI); Shana Fisk, sr. 2B (.379, 52 R, 28 SB); Karigan Gates, sr. C (.487, 37 R, 46 RBI, 13 2B).
Outlook: Vestaburg made its first Quarterfinal appearance Tuesday since 2007 and is back in the Semifinals for the first time since 1986. The Wolverines defeated an impressive field to return, including No. 9 Coleman, No. 5 North Muskegon and then No. 2 Ubly on Tuesday. Jannelle Rons was an all-state pitcher last season and is one of seven seniors. 

PHOTO: Kalamazoo Christian’s Rebekah VanDam connects with a pitch during last season’s Finals weekend in Battle Creek. Her team is the reigning Division 4 champion.

Otsego's Bolhuis Earns Record Book Fame with Elite Ability to Get On Base

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 2, 2022

Jada Bolhuis finished up her Otsego softball career this spring all over the MHSAA record book – and despite playing only three seasons because 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19.

Bolhuis owns 12 entries in the MHSAA record book including for 228 career runs (16th all-time), 230 career hits and a .622 career batting (sixth all-time) over 112 games and three varsity seasons.

She also made the hitting streak list twice, with a run of 44 straight games with a hit from April of her freshman year until the end of April of her junior season, and for a 33-game hitting streak during her junior and senior springs. The 44-game streak is the second-longest in MHSAA history.

Bolhuis also is a track sprinter and is slated to run at University of Tampa.

We’re continuing to catch up on adding record book listings. See below for more of the most recent added for softball.

Softball

Richland Gull Lake’s Savanna Disbrow had a par of significant run-producing games over the course of two weeks in May 2021. She drove in seven runs against Mattawan that May 5, then eight in a win over Delton Kellogg on May 20. She played this past season at Bemidji State in Minnesota.

Gabby Schloop put up a senior season to remember for Midland in 2021, posting the fifth-most runs scored (83) and tying for the fifth-most doubles (27) in MHSAA history, while also making the single-season hits list with 70 and career doubles list with 49 over three seasons. Taylor Sanborn also made the single-season hits list in 2021 as a senior, and also with 70. Sanborn continued her career at Calvin University, and Schloop at Northwood.

Maddisyn Miller also was added for RBI in a single game, driving in seven May 12, 2021, for Ovid-Elsie against Laingsburg. She is a junior this fall.

Rochester Adams earned its first softball record book entries in 2021. Then-junior Sabrina Lee was added for getting hit by 17 pitches over 34 games. Teammate Elizabeth Blaine, a senior that season, hit home runs in consecutive at bats, both in the second inning, of a game against Auburn Hills Avondale.

Potent offense helped drive Grandville to a 31-5 finish in 2019, with a number of top hitters in the record book. As a team, the Bulldogs are listed for 399 hits, 76 doubles, 34 home runs and 292 RBI that season. Then-senior Taylor Buiter was added for 10 home runs, including a pair in consecutive at bats, and then-junior Maddi Ungrey was added for three home runs in the same game all in consecutive at bats as well. Then-senior Lexi Dukesherer became the first player listed for being hit by a pitch twice in the same inning, and she also made the single-game list in that category for three. Additionally, former Grandville standout Carrie Mesman was added for her 17 doubles in 2015. Mesman went on to play at Aquinas College, and Buiter played at Ferris State.

Bath’s Bailee Buck has become the first entry for career times hit by pitches, as she totaled 30 over 99 games from 2017-19 (with her senior season of 2020 canceled due to COVID-19). She also made the single-game list with three HBPs as a junior. Teammate Ally Estrada was added twice for hitting consecutive home runs, five days apart during the 2019 season, and also for driving in seven runs in the first of those games May 18, 2019, against Algonac. Estrada graduated this spring.

Grosse Pointe South’s Shannon Dame became the second player added to the single-season hit-by-pitch list. She was hit by 20 pitches during the 2021 season, when she was a junior.  

A trio of New Lothrop hitters were added for hitting during the 2021 spring, led by then-junior Jersey Hemgesberg who was added for 73 hits, 25 doubles and 12 home runs over 38 games – with the 25 doubles tying for seventh-most in MHSAA history. Additionally, Brynne Birchmeier was added for 20 doubles and Marissa Rombach for 17. Both are juniors this fall.

Bloomfield Hills sophomore Hannah Grant made the single-game lists for home runs and RBI during a win over Berkley on April 7. She had three homers and six RBI in the 9-7 win; the three homers tied for second-most in one contest.

Buchanan sophomore Hailee Kara also joined the single-game RBI list with nine during a 19-7 win over Vicksburg on April 21. The nine RBI tied for seventh-most in one contest.

PHOTO Jada Bolhuis makes a throw to first base during Otsego’s District Final win over South Haven this spring. (Photo by Gary Shook.)