South Lyon Follows Freshman Phenom to 1st Finals Win

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for

June 19, 2021

EAST LANSING – Allen Park was never able to solve South Lyon pitcher Ava Bradshaw on Saturday.

The freshman showed unbelievable poise on the mound and led the Lions (30-6-2) to the Division 1 championship with a 5-0 victory over the Jaguars at Secchia Stadium.

She was in trouble only in the seventh inning, when Molly Hool led off with a double. But Bradshaw got the next three batters, striking out the last to clinch the program’s first Finals title.

“She’s got the fire,’’ said Allen Park coach Mike Kish. “She has Division I stuff and she’s only a freshman. She has the spin and a rise ball. It’s hard to lay off.

“We have a team that loves each other. We’ll be back. We’re a young team. We can’t let her win again. This was the first time both of us were here, and after the Semifinals I thought we were confident.’’

Bradshaw scattered three hits. She said getting a lead just allowed her to pitch.

“I was a mess last night (Friday),’’ said Bradshaw. “My rise ball was working for me. It was on and that obviously helps. I had a great defense behind me. Every ball that was hit, I knew it was going to be caught. When you have that kind of confidence in your defense, it’s easier to pitch.’’

South Lyon softball“This is the stuff we practice, being on the big stage in pressure situations. We played some of the top teams in the state, and we’ve always excelled. We practice pressure situations.”

Bradshaw got the scoring started with an RBI double after Grace Walters reached on an error. Julia Duncan’s single scored another run to make it 2-0 in the first inning.

Not long after, the game went into a rain delay for 20 minutes, giving the Jaguars (32-11) a chance to regroup.

Bradshaw didn’t need it.

“She’s always a mess before a game,’’ said coach Dan DePaulis. “The way she trains, the way she plans for things. She’s a competitor. She attacks hitters. She’s just a really special kid.’’

After a rocky first inning, Allen Park pitcher Morgan Sizemore settled down and kept Allen Park in the game while the offense had a hard time solving Bradshaw, who pitched with minor stress.

She continually kept the Jaguars off balance and got great plays behind her. She also continued adding to the offense – after South Lyon loaded the bases on singles in the bottom of the fifth inning, Bradshaw’s sacrifice fly produced a run to make it 3-0.

The Lions tacked on insurance in the bottom of the sixth inning on a two-run double by Riley Bourlier.

“I thought we had a chance to do this after Regionals,’’ said Bourlier. “Ava is phenomenal, and it’s a pleasure to play with her.’’

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) South Lyon pitcher Ava Bradshaw is set to fire during Saturday's Division 1 Final. (Middle) Riley Bourlier slides into third base during a Lions rally.

In Memoriam: Tony Coggins (1971-2023)

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

October 24, 2023

The MHSAA and Holly school communities are grieving this week after the sudden loss of Tony Coggins, a shining light in his educational community and an enthusiastic supporter of school sports as a public address announcer for several of our largest championship events.

But while that cheerful tone has been quieted, it surely will not be forgotten by the many fortunate to enjoy an event in the presence of that voice and the joyfulness he brought into every arena, press box and classroom.

Coggins, 51, died Saturday. He is survived by his wife Kristy and children Emma and Bradlee, among several family and friends from his local and greater sports communities.

Tony CogginsHis career as a PA announcer began during his freshman year of high school in 1985, when his father Dale Coggins – Flushing’s athletic director at the time – couldn’t find anyone else to announce middle school football games. That was 39 years ago, and this fall Tony Coggins was in his 24th announcing at Holly, where he taught and served as an administrator in addition to his role as “Voice of the Holly Bronchos” for football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, competitive cheer and swimming & diving over the years.

Coggins has been a mainstay among MHSAA Finals PA announcers over the last decade in football, basketball, softball and most recently volleyball. He lent his voice to college sports at University of Michigan as well. “Tony was a huge part of our Finals events. It’s hard to imagine it being the same without him,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said.

As part of the run-up to the MHSAA public address announcers clinic in 2018, Coggins said this about what drew him to the microphone:

“I have zero athletic ability whatsoever, which is interesting because my father was an all-state running back. But I enjoy being involved, and I've always been the one for history and statistics and knowing what's going on,” Coggins said. “This is a way for me to be involved. It's a way for me to use a talent I've been given; public speaking has always come pretty naturally for me.

“So I worked at my craft to get better. I got better from watching the people around me, from studying the people I like, and the people – if I saw someone I didn’t care for – I'd make a note and say to myself, ‘Don't do that.’ I take feedback from people very personally, and I mean that in a good way. If somebody takes the time to come up and say, ‘You did this well; I think you should change this,’ that means they care about the program also. We all have the same goal in mind, and that's to make the experience good for the high school student and the parents, the fans, that come there.”

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at St. John Vianney, 2415 Bagley Street in Flint. There will be visitation from 2-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 West Hill Road, and at the church from 10 a.m. Saturday until the time of the Mass.