EAST LANSING – When Richmond senior pitcher Shea VanScoter opened the bottom of the first inning of Friday’s Division 3 Semifinal against Clinton with a leadoff home run to left field, it figured to be enough run support for the way she has been pitching of late.
It wasn’t quite all the support VanScoter needed, but it was close.
Once again getting it done at the plate and the circle, VanScoter homered and tossed a five-hitter to lead Richmond to a 5-1 win.
The Blue Devils (30-5) advanced to meet Buchanan in Saturday’s Division 3 Final in what will be Richmond’s first title game appearance since it made back-to-back appearances in the Division 2 championship games in 2016 and 2017, winning the first and finishing runner-up the second.
It was actually noteworthy that Clinton scored Friday, given Richmond entered the game having yielded only five runs during the entire MHSAA Tournament and just one over its previous three games.
“We’ve had several shutouts on our road to get here,” Richmond head coach Howard Stuart said. “We pitch well, we play solid defense and we hit well.”
After striking out 12 in a Regional championship win over Millington and 14 more in a Quarterfinal win over Shepherd, VanScoter didn’t quite rack up the strikeout total against Clinton, only fanning four.
But VanScoter didn’t walk anyone, nor did she allow Clinton to string hits together, trusting her defense to make plays behind her.
“They were probably some of the best hitters I’ve faced all year,” VanScoter said. “They hit everything. They got their bat on everything. None of them really swung and missed.”
Two batters after VanScoter’s first-inning homer, Richmond sophomore Piper Clark hit a solo home run of her own to left to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead.
The score remained that way until the bottom of the fifth, when Richmond took a 4-0 lead on a clutch two-run single with two outs by Makayla Revord. Lauren Ziza then followed with an RBI single to make it 5-0 Richmond.
Clinton cut the lead to 5-1 in the sixth inning on a two-out single by Ava Ormsby, who brought home Liberti Fair after Fair had doubled.
But that would be all the offense for Clinton, which finished its season 34-8.
“Our goal was to put the ball in play,” Clinton head coach Kim Phillip said. “VanScoter averages anywhere from 12 to 15 strikeouts a game, and we didn’t want to do that. We really put in the work offensively. I’m proud of my girls for putting the ball in play. That was our goal.”
Buchanan 9, Standish-Sterling 4
After making its first Semifinal appearance since 2006, Buchanan will now return to Secchia Stadium to play in its first championship game.
The Bucks rode a 15-hit attack to a 9-4 win over Standish-Sterling.
“Our baseball team was here (playing in Thursday’s Semifinals), so some of our kids came up here and I think that was helpful,” Buchanan head coach Rachel Carlson said. “We got up here early enough, and that calmed our nerves. We got to watch a little ball and settle in. They believe in what they are doing right now.”
Buchanan (36-4) opened the scoring with a big second inning, sending nine hitters to the plate and scoring four runs on five hits to take a 4-0 lead.
Hannah Tompkins and Hannah Herman each had RBI singles, while Kamille Lemon and Brooke Atkinson each brought in runs on fielder’s choice groundouts.
After Buchanan scored an unearned run in the third inning, Standish-Sterling got on the board in the fourth on an RBI sacrifice fly to right by Many Ahleman to make it 5-1. Buchanan got that run back though in its half of the fourth inning on an RBI single by Hailee Kara that made it 6-1.
The Bucks added three more runs in the fifth inning on an RBI double by Lemon, an RBI single by Sage Pruett and an RBI sacrifice fly by Atkinson to take a 9-1 lead, but Standish-Sterling answered in the sixth.
The Panthers plated three of their own to cut Buchanan’s lead to 9-4, with the big hit a two-run single by Kylie Wendel.
However, Buchanan pitcher Sophia Lozmack pitched a scoreless seventh inning to end any hopes of a Panthers rally.
Kara, Alea Fisher and Camille Lozmack each had three hits to lead Buchanan.
Standish-Sterling (32-12) was potent offensively as well, with 12 hits, but the Panthers couldn’t generate runs like Buchanan did.
Karasyn Kraska went 3-for-3 with two runs to lead Standish-Sterling.
“We don’t give up,” Standish-Sterling head coach Rich Sullivan said. “We were down 9-1 and a lot of teams would’ve quit, but we didn’t. About a month ago, I named them the cardiac kids because they don’t quit. You saw that with how they fought, and I told them I was proud of them.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Richmond’s Shea VanScoter fires a pitch during her team’s Division 3 Semifinal win on Friday. (Middle) Buchanan’s Hailee Kara follows her drive during the Bucks’ victory.
The MHSAA and Holly school communities are grieving this week after the sudden loss of Tony Coggins, a shining light in his educational community and an enthusiastic supporter of school sports as a public address announcer for several of our largest championship events.
But while that cheerful tone has been quieted, it surely will not be forgotten by the many fortunate to enjoy an event in the presence of that voice and the joyfulness he brought into every arena, press box and classroom.
Coggins, 51, died Saturday. He is survived by his wife Kristy and children Emma and Bradlee, among several family and friends from his local and greater sports communities.
His career as a PA announcer began during his freshman year of high school in 1985, when his father Dale Coggins – Flushing’s athletic director at the time – couldn’t find anyone else to announce middle school football games. That was 39 years ago, and this fall Tony Coggins was in his 24th announcing at Holly, where he taught and served as an administrator in addition to his role as “Voice of the Holly Bronchos” for football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, competitive cheer and swimming & diving over the years.
Coggins has been a mainstay among MHSAA Finals PA announcers over the last decade in football, basketball, softball and most recently volleyball. He lent his voice to college sports at University of Michigan as well. “Tony was a huge part of our Finals events. It’s hard to imagine it being the same without him,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said.
As part of the run-up to the MHSAA public address announcers clinic in 2018, Coggins said this about what drew him to the microphone:
“I have zero athletic ability whatsoever, which is interesting because my father was an all-state running back. But I enjoy being involved, and I've always been the one for history and statistics and knowing what's going on,” Coggins said. “This is a way for me to be involved. It's a way for me to use a talent I've been given; public speaking has always come pretty naturally for me.
“So I worked at my craft to get better. I got better from watching the people around me, from studying the people I like, and the people – if I saw someone I didn’t care for – I'd make a note and say to myself, ‘Don't do that.’ I take feedback from people very personally, and I mean that in a good way. If somebody takes the time to come up and say, ‘You did this well; I think you should change this,’ that means they care about the program also. We all have the same goal in mind, and that's to make the experience good for the high school student and the parents, the fans, that come there.”
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at St. John Vianney, 2415 Bagley Street in Flint. There will be visitation from 2-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 West Hill Road, and at the church from 10 a.m. Saturday until the time of the Mass.
The Holly volleyball team played for something bigger tonight
Beloved PA announcer Anthony Coggins died on Friday night from a heart attack
— Brandon Green🍀 (@BGreenReports) October 24, 2023