Regina, Howell Advance with Late Rallies

June 13, 2019

By Jason Schmitt
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – There’s no such thing as ugly when it comes to advancing in the MHSAA softball playoffs.

Warren Regina manufactured the game-winning run in a most unusual way Thursday afternoon against Bay City Western. And the Saddlelites aren’t going to apologize to anyone after their 4-0 victory over the Warriors in a Division 1 Semifinal matchup at Secchia Stadium.

Senior Marisa Muglia led the seventh inning off with a single to get things going for her Saddlelites (29-11). The next batter, sophomore Mia Konyvka, dropped down a sacrifice bunt. Western made the play at first base, but freshman Jenna Holt, courtesy running for Muglia, pressed the issue, rounding second and heading for third. The throw to third base ricocheted off Holt and went into Regina’s dugout. A dead ball was called, allowing Holt to score what would be the winning run.

“To be honest, I’ve done that many times before,” said Holt, who actually overran second base before deciding to just head to third. “I just knew that, with my speed, I could cause chaos. I don’t even know what was going through my head. All I remember is sliding into third and hearing, ‘The ball is dead.’ And I was awarded home.”

Regina head coach Diane Laffey saw the chaos play out in front of her while coaching third base. She was a little nervous, to say the least.

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, why did she overrun the base?’” said Laffey, with a smile on her face. “She does it a lot, and we keep reminding her. She played JV most of the season, and they can get away with it on JV. She’s been out a couple times doing it since we’ve brought her up. So I’m like, ‘Jenna, they’re going to throw and get you out.’ Fortunately they threw behind her, and the throw to third got away and we lucked out.”

Muglia pitched a complete-game, two-hitter to pick up the victory for the Saddlelites, who will face Howell in the title game on Saturday. She did not hesitate when asked if it was her best pitching performance of her career.

“Most definitely,” she said. “My riseball and my curveball were major components (for me) today.”

For the first six innings, it was a pitchers’ duel, with Western junior Adaline Ziehmer matching Muglia pitch for pitch. Ziehmer allowed five hits and two earned runs while taking the loss.

Regina added three more runs in the seventh, with sophomore Miranda Nicholas driving in a pair on a slap single down the left field line. Junior Jacqueline Jozefczyk added an RBI single to complete the scoring.

“The girls had a great six and a half innings, and I don’t want to say the wheels fell off, but we’re used to putting runs up on the board,” Western head coach Kris Popp said. “It looks worse than it is, but we just didn’t score. If we could have put some runs on the board right off the bat like we usually do, put some pressure on the other team, and it makes a huge difference in the game.

“(Muglia) did a good job keeping us off balance. She threw well. She was making us hit pitches that we’re not used to swinging at.”

Western finished the season 31-6.

Click for the full box score.

Howell 9, Clarkston 6

Juniors Skye Grant and Molly Carney weren’t about to let a chance to get to the Division 1 championship game get away from their team Thursday night. Each had clutch hits as the Highlanders scored three runs in the top half of the seventh inning to pull out a victory over Clarkston, ensuring their team a spot in Saturday’s final game against Warren Regina.

“The way the whole thing set up in that last inning was that they had the middle of their lineup coming up, and we had the bottom of our lineup coming up,” said Howell head coach Ron Pezzoni, who will see his program play for its first Finals championship. “And Skye, Molly, sometimes your unlikely players come up clutch. Skye has been getting big hits for us all year, some big RBIs. And Molly, we keep putting her out there and she’s getting hits. Those at bats were huge for us.”

With one out and the game tied 6-6, Grant doubled, scoring pinch runner Avery Pruss, giving her team the lead. Carney, the next batter, drilled a base hit to right field, scoring sophomores Maddie Springer and Jane Anderson to give the Highlanders (36-3) some breathing room. Grant and Carney were a combined 0-for-4 heading into those last at bats.

Howell jumped out to a 6-1 lead through its half of the fourth inning. Senior Maddie Gillett, who finished 3-for-4 in the win, had a clutch two-run single in the third to help get things going for the Highlanders. Senior A.J. Militello, sophomore Avery Wolverton and Springer each added two hits in their team’s win.

Pezzoni was still in shock after the game had ended, but he had nothing but respect for the Wolves and the effort they put into the game.

“Clarkston is a great team, as deep as any team around,” Pezzoni said. “We knew, even when we were up 6-1, that it wasn’t going to be easy, that we were going to have to get a lot of tough outs. Fortunately, we did.”

Senior Anna Skvarce, junior Sierra Kersten and sophomore Sam Wycoff all had two hits to lead Clarkston (36-3). Juniors Hannah Cady and Nyah Ansel each scored a pair of runs in their team’s loss.

“I’m just really proud of (my players),” Clarkston head coach Don Peters said. “I told them it was an amazing comeback and shows their grit and determination. I guess we were trying out how to stop them, and they were trying to figure out how to stop us. And they did a little better job.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Warren Regina’s Jenna Holt, right, is greeted after scoring her team’s first run Thursday evening. (Middle) Howell players celebrate during their Semifinal win.

Owosso Ace's Strikeout Total Stacks Up with State's All-Time Best

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.