By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING — The pitching circle is Erin Shuboy's comfort zone.
It doesn't matter if it's an MHSAA championship game against a team with a .433 batting average and a full set of bleachers on either side of her.
Pitching is easy for Shuboy.
Talking about it? That's when the nerves start to show.
"I'm so overwhelmed," the freshman pitcher told a group of reporters after throwing a no-hitter in Richmond's 2-0 victory over Vicksburg in the MHSAA Division 2 championship game on Saturday at Michigan State University.
When one more reporter joined the scrum around Shuboy, she exclaimed, "Oh, my gosh! There's more!"
She'd better get used to the attention, because she has three more years of dealing with interview requests in high school, and possibly beyond that in college.
"She feels like she doesn't have anything to say," said freshman catcher Kennedy Caperton, who has been playing softball with Shuboy since elementary school. "Once you get to know her, she opens up. I think she's just in shock about it."
Shuboy pitched the 14th no-hitter in an MHSAA Final, the first since Mattawan's Lauren Gevaart had one in the 2011 Division 1 title game. Shuboy struck out seven, facing the minimum of 21 batters.
The only runner she allowed was pitching counterpart Avery Slancik, who walked with one out in the second inning. A grounder by Olivia Holmes forced out Slancik's courtesy runner, Lauren Goertler, at second base. Holmes was then caught stealing by Caperton to end the inning.
"As soon as I let go of it, I was like, 'I hope this is good,'" Caperton said.
Shuboy retired the last 16 batters she faced. Even though the scoreboard told the story, she had no clue she'd thrown a no-hitter until a reporter told her while walking from the field to the awards area.
"We had to slow her down several times," Richmond coach Howard Stuart said. "Even the officials were telling us to slow her down. She was in such a hurry to get the ball and throw it. There was no mention of a no-hitter; not one word was said. Even at the end of the game, she didn't know. She was so focused. The team was not allowed to say anything to her."
Richmond's two runs came in the top of the fourth inning. Lindsay Schweiger led off with a single to left, then moved to third when the throw to first went into the outfield on a bunt by Allison Swantek.
Shuboy delivered the first run with a slow groundout to second base.
"I just wanted to make contact with it," Shuboy said. "That's all we had to do, get the RBI."
Swantek made it 2-0 when she raced home on a wild pitch.
"We made a couple of mistakes," Vicksburg coach Paul Gephart said. "Those couple of mistakes all happened together, and that led to the couple of runs."
Vicksburg went down in order in the final five innings, striking out six times, but putting three balls in the outfield. The final out came on a foul ball down the right field line.
"The few solid hits we had went right at them," Gephart said. "One of our quicker girls, they were playing way up to take away the bunt option we've used in the past. You have to give them all the credit. They're a good team. They wouldn't be here if they weren't."
It was Richmond's first MHSAA softball championship after losing in the Finals in 1985, 1998 and 1999. The Blue Devils (32-9) had reached the Semifinals seven times prior to this season under Stuart, who is 954-288 in 38 years at the helm.
Shuboy broke down when asked what it meant to help deliver a title to Richmond's six seniors.
"I just wanted to help them out," she said. "I'm gonna cry. I just wanted them to have a good end of their senior year, and a state championship would be a perfect way."
One of those seniors, Schweiger, knows that the program is in good hands with Shuboy and Caperton returning for three more years as the team's battery.
"Erin handled it so well," Schweiger said. "She could be put in tough situations and play fantastic. Kennedy can throw people out like it's nothing. She's amazing at catching. They work so well together, because they've been playing with each other since they were little; all of us have, basically. They'll be good next year, too."
Slancik allowed six hits, struck out eight and didn't give up a walk for Vicksburg (36-9). She kept the game close by getting out of jams in the fifth and seventh innings after Richmond moved runners to third base.
PHOTOS: (Top) Richmond players rush to celebrate their MHSAA Final win with pitcher Erin Shuboy (19). (Middle) Shuboy prepares to unload a pitch during Saturday’s championship game.
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.