Softball Brings Home Millington's 1st Title

June 15, 2019

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Runner-up a year ago – and seeking the first team championship in any sport in school history – Millington made sure it would be heading home with a softball title Saturday.

The Cardinals dominated Schoolcraft from the start of an 8-0 victory in the MHSAA Division 3 Final at Michigan State’s Secchia Stadium, a year after missing out on that milestone victory by just a run.

Last year, Millington led Coloma 5-4 before eventually losing 7-6. Coach Greg Hudie said his team watched film of that game the first day of practice this spring, and then the issue of last season was put to rest.

“I know some of the players and parents probably didn’t want to watch it, but after that we didn’t talk about last year at all,” he said. “That was in the past. This group loves each other, and we have team chemistry. They put a lot of work and sacrifice into doing this. They are like my daughters.”

Millington, which also won its first Regional title and made the Semifinals when these seniors were freshmen in 2016, finished this season 38-2-1.

“To win the first championship in school history is something special,’’ said senior Gabbie Sherman. “This is the first in school history to win in anything. We worked so hard for this. For it to come true is amazing. We’re like family, and watching us play you can see that.’’

After Sherman set Schoolcraft down in order in the top of the first inning, Millington outfielder Darrien Roberts got the Cardinals’ offense rolling with a blast on the first pitch she saw to deep center field that climbed up the light pole and over the fence to give her team a 1-0 lead.

“It was definitely a starter; it got my team going,’’ said Roberts, who hit her 18th home run of the season. “Anytime I go up as the leadoff hitter, my coaches tell me I set the mood and I have to set the tone and get on base. They told me I have to be the explosive player. Hitting that home run right away, I knew it was gone. I knew it was going to be a good finish for my team. I knew this was our year. No more of that Coloma stuff. This was our year.’’

Before the Eagles could get an out, Leah Denome singled, Sherman singled, Madi Hahn had a two-run double and Sydney Bishop had an RBI single to make it 4-0.

Sabrina Gates had an RBI single, forcing a pitching change with the Eagles down 5-0. After the switch, Elizabeth Bees singled. Roberts, who started the fireworks, lined a shot to center which was hauled in by Allie Goldschmeding to end the rally.

On the mound, Sherman struck out the first five batters she faced before giving up a single to Jordan Watts. Sherman quickly struck out the next batter to end the inning.

She helped her cause again in the fourth inning with an RBI single to make the score 6-0.

Hahn added an RBI single to make it 7-0 and a fielder’s choice throw to home was late as the lead swelled to 8-0.

Millington had 17 hits total, and for the second straight season Denome tied the Finals record with four. Sherman had three hits and struck out 13 batters in her final high school start.

Mikayla Meade was solid in relief for Schoolcraft (32-5), giving up just three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched.

Of course, there was no better way to finish for seven Millington seniors who have helped the program achieve so much. The Cardinals upped their record over the last four seasons to a combined 150-16-1.

“This was hard because a lot of the media talked about last year,’’ said Roberts. “Parents and fans would mention it. So we told them ‘no more.’ We didn’t want to talk about it.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: Millington players welcome home Darrien Roberts after her home run Saturday. (Middle) Sydney Bishop calls for timeout after beating a Schoolcraft tag.

She's Back: South Lyon Ace Bradshaw Returns for Another Title Pursuit

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

April 11, 2024

SOUTH LYON — Two words likely won’t sit well with a lot of Division 1 softball teams around the state this year. 

Greater DetroitShe’s back. 

Or to play on the words of former Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger after a Sugar Bowl win in 2019, and others who before and since have added dramatics to the phrase: “She’s baaaaaaaaaaaack.”

“She” is South Lyon senior pitcher Ava Bradshaw. And if anyone who follows high school softball in the state happened to forget that name, let’s do a little refresher. 

Back in 2021, Bradshaw burst onto the scene in her first year of high school and played like a freshman …. in college. 

Bradshaw was a dominant two-way force both pitching and hitting, so much so that behind her, South Lyon won its first MHSAA Finals title, in Division 1. 

In the championship game against Allen Park, Bradshaw threw a three-hit shutout, striking out nine and walking one in a 5-0 South Lyon victory. She also had two RBI.

“I didn’t realize how crazy what we did was,” Bradshaw said. “We really did make that run.” 

Bradshaw was even better as a sophomore and seemed destined to lead South Lyon to a repeat. 

However, a first inning against Mattawan during which everything that could go wrong seemingly did started a 3-1 Quarterfinal loss that stunningly ended those 2022 aspirations. 

But hey, no problem. Bradshaw had two more years to win another championship, right? 

Bradshaw, middle, celebrates with teammates after they won the 2021 Division 1 championship at Secchia Stadium.Then came the summer prior to her junior year, when Bradshaw suffered a torn ACL during her travel ball season. She was hoping to come back at some point last year as a junior, but understandably didn’t want to push anything too hard, especially since by that point she had committed to play in college for Duke. 

This year, it would have been understandable if Bradshaw would have just wanted to sit out her senior year, enjoy the countdown to graduation and simply gear up for the next chapter. 

But Bradshaw was having none of that.

“In high school ball, every day I’m practicing and I’m playing with my friends, playing for my town and for my school,” she said. “That’s an honor, and I have so much fun. I couldn’t imagine not playing my senior year. That would be so sad. When I look back on my high school experience, some of the biggest memories I have come from softball. I couldn’t imagine not finishing what I started.” 

So Bradshaw is indeed back and not only fully healthy, but stronger and hungrier than she ever has been during her high school career. 

Bradshaw said going through rehabilitation for her injury last year has made her better physically. 

“I was forced to do certain movements and exercises that I never would have done had I not been forced to go to (physical therapy),” she said. “I became a more well-rounded athlete. I improved flexibility and mobility.” 

In her first game this season, Bradshaw struck 12 of the 15 batters she faced and went 4-for-4 at the plate. 

“We just plugged her right in,” South Lyon head coach Dave Langlois said. 

Not having Bradshaw last year actually could end up making South Lyon even better this year. 

“I think we were the only ones to score a run on the state champs, Hartland, in our Regional,” Langlois said. “We were one hit away with a young, inexperienced team for the most part. Those kids got to get experience in crucial times (without Bradshaw) when they may not have gotten (it).”

South Lyon probably still would’ve been formidable if Bradshaw decided not to play this year. But adding her back to a talented roster of underclassmen who are a year older and better?

It’s no wonder why “she’s back” might be the most terrifying two words for softball teams not named South Lyon this spring. 

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

PHOTOS (Top) South Lyon’s Ava Bradshaw makes her move toward the plate during a game against Flat Rock this spring. (Middle) Bradshaw, middle, celebrates with teammates after they won the 2021 Division 1 championship at Secchia Stadium. (Top photo by Conner Lipke; middle photo by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)