Rudyard Rallies Late, USA Early, to Set Up Title Clash

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

June 18, 2021

EAST LANSING – Before Rudyard senior Morgan Bickel stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning of a tied Semifinal against Holton on Friday, she got some advice from her coaches in the dugout that seemed a bit perplexing.

“My coaches were like, ‘Just hit a home run and we win,’” said Bickel, who entered that at-bat with just two home runs on the year. “I just kind of laughed it off. I was just looking for solid contact. Something off of the barrel.”

Seconds later, Bickel indeed made contact off of the barrel and went from laughing off the advice of her coaches to walking it off for Rudyard, blasting the game-winning home run over the fence in right to give Rudyard a stunning 9-8 win.

Holton held a 7-1 lead with two outs in the fifth and before the Bulldogs improbably rallied to advance to their first Final on Saturday. 

“We haven’t been down 7-1 and come back (this year), but we know we are a team that can score runs,” Rudyard head coach Stephen Davis said. “We never once panicked.”

Rudyard (28-5) started its rally in the fifth inning when No. 7 hitter Tori Tremblay and No. 9 hitter Chesney Molina each walked to set the stage for leadoff hitter Paige Postma, who injected some life into her team by hitting a three-run home run with two outs to left-center to cut Holton’s lead to 7-4. 

Each team scored a run in the sixth inning, and then Rudyard scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 8-8.

Molina walked to start the inning to turn the lineup over, and then with two outs, Bickel and Meagan Postma each hit RBI singles to cut Holton’s lead to 8-7. 

Karlee Mayer then hit an RBI double to right-center just out of the reach of Holton’s diving right fielder to tie the game at 8-8.

In the top of the eighth, Holton loaded the bases with one out, but Bickel got out of the jam with a groundout and subsequent force at home, and then a strikeout.

After a scoreless eighth, Bickel retired Holton in order in the top of the ninth to set up her heroics.

“It was just funny at that moment that the coaches said to hit a home run, and I ended up doing it,” Bickel said. 

Holton (35-7) seemed to be in cruise control after building a 7-1 lead, scoring a single run in the first, four runs in the second and single runs in the third and fourth. 

But ultimately, some untimely walks and not producing enough offense in the late innings proved too costly.

Abigail Fowler and Madison Bosset each went 3-for-5, Gianna Reed went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and an RBI and Ryann Robins had three RBI to lead Holton.

“Hats off to them,” Holton head coach Kirk Younts said. “They hit the ball. It was a tight game, and they are a good team. They battled, and so did we. We had some chances to score, and we didn’t.”

Click for the full box score.

Unionville-Sebewaing 9, Bridgman 2

Reigning champion Unionville-Sebewaing left no doubt from the beginning, jumping out to a 4-0 lead during the first inning and adding three more runs in the second to take a 7-0 lead en route to a 9-2 win.

Unionville-Sebewaing softballUSA advanced to meet Rudyard in what will be the fourth Finals appearance for the Patriots since 2015. 

“Putting four in the first inning kind of allows the girls to relax a little bit and slow the game down,” USA head coach Isaiah Gainforth said. “Coming back in the second inning and getting three maybe was even bigger.” 

Laci Harris went 4-for-4 with two RBI and three runs and Gabriella Crumm went 3-for-3 with four RBI to lead a 10-hit attack for USA. 

The offense was more than enough for USA starter Brynn Polega, who struck out 10 and didn’t give up an earned run in tossing a three-hitter. 

Hannah Johnson had the lone RBI for Bridgman (39-3), which made its first appearance in the Semifinals.

“They knew what to expect,” Bridgman head coach Elaine Starbuck said of USA’s experience playing in later rounds of the playoffs. “Nerves I’m sure got the best of us. We gave up a few passed balls that allowed them to score, and their hitters are solid.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Rudyard’s Chesney Molina (12) slides safely into second base during her team’s victory Friday at Secchia Stadium. (Middle) Unionville-Sebewaing’s Macy Reinhardt (5) keeps her eyes on a drive during her team’s Semifinal win.

Be the Referee: Appeal Play

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

May 29, 2024

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Appeal Play - Listen

We’re on the diamond, and we’ve got the bases loaded with one out. The batter hits a fly ball, and all three runners take off. The fly ball is caught for out number two. The fielder throws to first base for out number three – which is technically an appeal play, not a force out, with the runner leaving early. But before that out is recorded, the runner who left third base early crosses the plate.

Does that run count?

It depends!

If the defense appeals to third base before leaving the field of play, they would be awarded a fourth out, and the run would not count.

But if they fail to appeal, or if they all run to the dugout before realizing an appeal is needed, then yes, the run would count – even though the runner failed to tag up.

Previous Editions

May 21: Lacrosse Foul in Critical Scoring Area - Listen
May 14: Avoiding the Tag - Listen
May 7: Baseball Pitch Count - Listen
April 30: Boys Lacrosse Helmets - Listen
April 23: Softball Interference - Listen
April 16: Soccer Red Card - Listen
April 9: Batted Baseball Hits Runner - Listen
March 12: Basketball Replay - Listen
March 5: Hockey Officials - Listen
Feb. 27: Less Than 5 - Listen
Feb. 20: Air Ball - Listen
Feb. 13: Hockey Penalties - Listen
Jan. 30: Wrestling Tiebreakers - Listen
Jan. 23: Wrestling Technology - Listen
Jan. 9: 3 Seconds - Listen
Dec. 19: Unsuspecting Hockey Hits - Listen
Dec. 12: No More One-And-Ones - Listen
Nov. 21: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 14: Volleyball Unplayable Areas - Listen
Nov. 7: Pass/Kick Off Crossbar - Listen
Oct. 31: Cross Country Interference - Listen
Oct. 24: Soccer Overtime - Listen
Oct. 17: Tennis Spin - Listen
Oct. 10: Blocked Kick - Listen
Oct. 3: Volleyball Double & Lift - Listen
Sept. 26: Registration Process - Listen
Sept. 20: Animal Interference - Listen
Sept. 13: Feet Rule on Soccer Throw-In - Listen
Sept. 6: Volleyball Jewelry - Listen
Aug. 30: Football Rules Similarities - Listen
Aug. 23: Football Rules Differences - Listen

(Photo by Gary Shook.)