Regulars Return to D4 Softball Finale

June 12, 2015

By Butch Harmon
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – With many of the players having graduated that helped lead Kalamazoo Christian to MHSAA Finals the past two seasons, Comets coach Terry Reynolds never expected his young Comets to be back this spring.

That’s exactly where the Comets have arrived, however, earning their third straight trip to the Division 4 Final by defeating Hillman 13-2 in five innings at Secchia Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University.

“At the end of the basketball season, I was wondering what we were going to do this season,” Reynolds said. “This is surreal. I never expected it. On March 9 when the season started, I was not sure of what we had. Now, I’m very proud of these girls.”

Kalamazoo Christian (29-14) will face Unionville-Sebewaing (37-3) in the Final at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Final will be Christian's 11th; it has played in the most championship games in MHSAA softball history.

The Comets didn’t just earn a trip to the title game; they slugged their way to the Final scoring in all four innings, highlighted by a seven-run fourth that blew the game open.

Up 6-0 going into the bottom of the inning, their already-hot bats turned blistering. Kalamazoo Christian reeled off eight straight hits during the inning in putting seven runs on the scoreboard.

The inning began quietly enough when junior Brooklyn Block led off with a bunt single. After a sacrifice bunt by junior McKena Razenberg, the floodgates began to open. Sophomore Monica Locker, one of eight sophomores on the Comets’ roster, doubled to plate Block. Junior shortstop Kara Gjeltema then followed with a RBI single.

One of few veterans who returned this season, Gjeltema has been a hitting standout the past two seasons, and this year entered the Semifinals with a .541 batting average and 66 RBI. Gjeltema added to that total with two hits and three RBI.

“We’ve come together this year as a family,” Gjeltema said. “We work as a family and have all come together.”

A catcher last season, Gjeltema moved to shortstop this spring.

“We had four shortstops in the spring,” Reynolds said. “Kara has a rifle for an arm, and I wanted someone who is fearless and Kara would run through a wall for you.”

Sophomore Aliyah Lemmer followed Gjeltema in the batting order and added a single to keep the fourth inning going. Lemmer also drove in the first two runs of the game for the Comets with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning.

Along with supplying offense, Lemmer was also Christian’s starting pitcher and in charge of silencing the Hillman bats. Lemmer did just that, as she allowed one base runner during the first four innings before giving up a pair of runs in the fifth.

Lemmer backed up last year’s staff ace Rebekah VanDam and took over the mantle of top thrower for a program long known for producing quality pitchers.

“The first inning I was pretty nervous,” Lemmer said. “Seeing all the fans and everything, I was nervous but then I settled down after getting the first three outs.”

Lemmer allowed three hits and no walks while striking out two over five innings.

Eight of the nine hitters in the Comets starting lineup collected at least one hit, and all but one of the nine scored a run. 

I was up until four in the morning watching tape on Hillman,” Reynolds said. “I told the girls to stay off the high pitch and make her come down. The girls were patient and did that. We had some opportunities, and the girls took advantage of it.

“Nothing will surprise me at this point,” Reynolds added. “The girls say that we are a family and they will keep battling and keep pushing no matter who we play.”

Hillman finished 30-4.    

Click for the box score.

Unionville-Sebewaing 4, Holton 1

Unionville-Sebewaing softball coach Steve Bohn saw Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo on the Michigan State campus Friday morning and was going to ask him what his secret is for winning titles.

With the way USA junior pitcher Nicole Bauer performed, and the way his hitters performed in the clutch, any advice from Izzo wasn’t needed this time as the Patriots handed Holton (37-1) its first and only loss.

Bohn, in his fourth season at Unionville-Sebewaing, has brought the Patriots to the Semifinals the past three years, getting his team into the Division 3 title game the past two years. This spring, playing in Division 4, the Patriots will play on the final day again.     

“We’ve been down here for the fourth time now,” Bohn said. “I saw Tom Izzo earlier and I wanted to ask him how he does it.”

Having a pitcher like Bauer helps. Bauer gave the Patriots an outstanding pitching performance as she scattered four hits and allowed one walk over seven innings. Bauer also struck out 11 Holton hitters. 

The Patriots also had some timely hitting. With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Bauer helped her own cause when she reached on a double. Senior Erica Treiber followed with a single that plated pinch runner Lauren Adam with the first run. Senior Madison Zimmer then gave the Patriots some breathing room with an RBI single that scored Treiber.

“We like to score with two outs,” Bauer said. “We go up there thinking we have nothing to lose when we have two outs.” 

The Patriots added another two-out run in the fifth inning when Kayla Gremel hit a two-out double that plated Sara Reinhardt. Unionville-Sebewaing added an insurance run in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Katie Engelhardt. 

“We just hope to execute and get it done tomorrow,” Bohn said.

Click for the box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Kalamazoo Christian first baseman Monica Locker secures a throw just before a Hillman runner crosses the bag Friday. (Middle) A Unionville-Sebewaing hitter drives a pitch during the Patriots' 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.