Richmond Earns Finals Return, Buchanan 1st Trip to Title Game

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

June 18, 2021

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.”

Click for the full box score.

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. 

Buchanan softball“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.”

Click for the full box score.

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.

Grass Lake Slugger Turner Writing Name All Over MHSAA Record Book

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

May 7, 2024

Bill and Julia Turner have not only put in a lot of miles on the road, but they’ve also put a lot of miles in on the softball field.

Greater DetroitBefore Olivia Turner was hitting the cover off the ball and becoming Michigan’s career RBI leader for the Grass Lake softball team, Bill and Julia were taking her to the field for batting practice.

“I always wanted to go to the field, and my dad would take me and my mom would shag balls in the outfield,” Olivia said. “They’ve spent countless hours, especially traveling around the country. They’ve been my biggest support system. They are awesome.”

Her Warriors teammates are grateful, too. Last week Turner became Michigan’s all-time leader in runs batted in, surpassing Taylor Light & Life Christian’s Kelly Kennedy, who held the record with 304 RBIs from 1991-94.

“It was crazy to think I beat a 30-year-old record,” Turner said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. I’m just super thankful.”

Having her name on the state record book for softball is nothing new to Turner. She barely missed the state mark for RBIs in a season last year when she had 102 and is the state’s all-time career doubles leader already.

Grass Lake head coach Roger Cook said Turner never talks about hitting home runs or driving in runs – just about being a teammate.

“I’m going to tell you, she’s one of the most modest people you’ll ever talk to,” Cook said. “She just talks team, team, team. She always has since I’ve known her. She has never said one thing about a home run or a base hit.”

Turner, who plays third base, has been around the Grass Lake program for a long time. When her sister Madeline was playing for the Warriors before heading off to play at Findlay University in Ohio, Olivia would tag along.

“I just wanted to be at the field, be around softball,” she said.

Turner first picked up the game when she was on an 8-and-under team.

“I fell in love with it,” she said.

Turner will graduate this spring with multiple MHSAA records.She started as a pitcher, but quickly converted to infielder, where she has played with Grass Lake and various travel teams. She also plays volleyball and basketball for Grass Lake, but softball is her sport.

“We’re all one family,” she said. “I love that you get to play with girls that you may not be friends with at school. It shows you who you are. Softball gives you a lot of life lessons – dedication, teamwork, how to work with others.”

She loves to hit, too.

“Every at-bat, even if there is no one on base, I want to get on base,” she said. “I’m always going up to the plate doing it for my team, not for myself. The RBIs are pretty cool. My team gets on base for me. All of the girls are phenomenal.”

Cook said he sometimes gets worried that opponents will just pitch around Turner. But because of who is in the lineup in front of and behind her, he doesn’t have to worry about that.

“We have Rylee Fitzpatrick, Emily Brown, then Olivia,” Cook said. “After Olivia we have (junior) Bree Salts, who has committed to Central Michigan. It’s hard to pitch around her. When we get to some of these big games, teams will have to throw to her.”

Last year’s Division 3 runner-up Ottawa Lake Whiteford has faced Grass Lake multiple times over the past couple of seasons, and coach Matt VanBrandt is plenty familiar with the damage Turner can do.

"You'd better have a plan when you are pitching to her,” VanBrandt said. “She’s a dangerous hitter. She’s someone you need to think about before the game starts.”

Turner hit .714 last season with 30 doubles and those 102 runs batted in. For her career, she’s belted 48 home runs and knocked in 309 runs after Saturday’s tournament. She’s never hit below .535 for a season and is nearing 100 career doubles.

Grass Lake currently is 22-1 and leading the Cascades Conference.

“It’s crazy to think I am actually a senior now,” Turner said. “Now that it is my senior year, I just want to work hard and play for my team. We’ve had great seniors the last couple of years. It’s crazy to think this is my last season.”

Turner will attend Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. She chose Bradley because of its nursing program.

“Academics has always been first for me,” she said. “I fell in love with the campus. It’s not too big or too small. The staff there is great.”

Before taking her swing to college, Grass Lake wants to make a deep tournament run this season. And the more games the Warriors play, the more RBIs Turner is likely to add to her record.

“Olivia has one of the smoothest, most beautiful swings I’ve ever seen,” Cook said. “She’s one of the girls you want up there at bat with the game on the line. She can do it all. If you need a single, she’ll get you a single. If you need a walk-off, she can do that, too.”

Doug DonnellyDoug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Grass Lake’s Olivia Turner focuses on a pitch coming her way. (Middle) Turner will graduate this spring with multiple MHSAA records. (Photos courtesy of Pictures by Marisa and the Grass Lake softball program.)