Richmond Finds Stride, Brings Championship End to 2021

By Jason Schmitt
Special for

June 19, 2021

EAST LANSING — Richmond senior Makayla Revord did what she’s been taught since first lacing up the cleats as a young ball player.

Keep your head down and run hard. 

So when she blooped a double down the right field line during the sixth inning of her team’s Division 3 Final against Buchanan on Saturday, she missed all the exciting action.

“I saw the ball land, and I kept going. I didn’t look at anybody else running. I just wanted to keep going to get more runs,” said Revord, whose hit drove in what turned out to be the game-winning run in her team’s 2-1 victory over the Bucks. “When I popped up (at second base), I had no worries anymore. I knew that we had this.”

Indeed they did. The Blue Devils scored twice in that sixth inning to rally from a run down and capture the second Finals championship in school history. The first came back in 2016 — also under current head coach Howard Stuart.

Richmond struggled against Buchanan starting pitcher Sophia Lozmack for the better part of six innings. The senior allowed just four hits while striking out six through five innings.

“She’s a great pitcher. You can’t take that away from her,” said Revord, speaking of Lozmack. “She’s got a great rise ball. She hits outside corners like nobody’s business. We don’t see a lot of that, so it took us a minute to catch up to that.”

Eventually, the Blue Devils did catch up in the sixth. Sophomore Piper Clark started things off with a one-out double and moved over to third on a single by junior Lauren Creon. Senior Jaelyn Amhdar then singled down the left field line, scoring Clark and tying the game up at 1-1. One out later, Revord came up with the eventual game-winner.

“The first half of the game, we were scared to death, which is not like us at all,” Stuart said. “(Revord) was shaking, she made two errors. It just wasn’t us. Finally, we got our act together and said, ‘Hey, we’re Richmond. Let’s do something.’”

Richmond softballBuchanan scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Freshman first baseman Hailee Kara took a 1-2 pitch deep to right, clearing the fence while hitting the fair pole to give her team an early 1-0 lead. But from that point on, hits were hard to come by for the Bucks.

Richmond senior Shea VanScoter locked things down, retiring eight of the next nine Buchanan batters and 10 of the last 11 she faced. She had a complete game, allowing just one run on three hits while collecting nine strikeouts.

“She stymied us for seven innings, and that hasn’t really happened all year,” said Buchanan head coach Rachel Carlson, whose team finished with a 36-5 record. “So congratulations to her. She pitched great.”

Offensively, Clark led Richmond with three hits, including a double. She also had a stolen base.

“She’s a star. She’s a great sophomore who can run like the wind,” Stuart said. “And she’s a great pitcher too. She’s just a great kid.”

Stuart said Saturday’s win was a great way to cap off a season that may not have started off exactly the way he had hoped. It took a few weeks for the Blue Devils to get things going.

“The first week, I was like, ‘We’re terrible.’ We were making six errors a game. We were pathetic,” Stuart said. “All of a sudden we went from a fielding percentage of .700 to a fielding percentage of .900, which is just huge. I felt like in the middle of the season we had a really good team. We didn’t show it that first week, but we started getting better, and better and better.” 

Buchanan was making its first appearance in an MHSAA Final game. The Bucks were coming off a 9-4 win over Standish-Sterling in Friday’s Semifinal. Carlson said she couldn’t be any more proud of the way her team competed this season.

“They made a commitment to play as a team and as a unit. That’s what I’m most proud of today,” said the fourth-year head coach. “They cheered each other on all day. They never stopped. That is a success in itself.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Richmond's Olivia Theut pulls in a fly ball during the Division 3 championship game Saturday evening. (Middle) The Blue Devils’ Piper Clark (10) shows some excitement after reaching second base.

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.)