Swan Valley Focuses on Finish

June 14, 2013

By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half

BATTLE CREEK — If Saginaw Swan Valley’s softball players were feeling good about themselves for reaching a second straight MHSAA championship game, the warm fuzzies quickly vanished once coach Tom Kennelly was done talking to them.

“You’re better than this!” he yelled during the team’s postgame huddle following a 5-2 Division 2 Semifinal victory over Linden on Friday at Bailey Park. “You’re not satisfied to be down here!”

Later, Kennelly spelled out “D-E-B-A-C-L-E” to describe his team’s temporary meltdown early in the game.

The message was driven home: Swan Valley shouldn’t be content just to be playing on the season’s final day, even with a young team that may get another crack next season.

The Vikings got this far last season, losing 4-0 to Livonia Ladywood in the championship game. They’ve done that on two other occasions since winning their only MHSAA crown in 1986.

“You don’t need great plays, for crying out loud, but you can’t let singles go for doubles and triples,” Kennelly said. “Mr. Sunshine, that’s what they call me.”

After taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, Swan Valley had two outfield errors and a walk that led to two Linden runs in the second.

The damage was minimized when junior pitcher Courtney Reinhold stranded Linden’s Alyssa Logie on third base. Logie reached third with no outs, but Reinhold induced a ground out to drawn-in third baseman Aspin Stack and struck out the next two batters.

“She’s done that in crucial situations,” Kennelly said. “I don’t know how many times she’s stranded people at third with nobody out.”

After that shaky second inning, Reinhold shut down the Eagles over the final five innings. Linden had only three more base runners, none past second base.

“I knew what I did wrong,” Reinhold said. “Pitching a girl on 0-2 something down the middle was obviously not very smart. I just cleaned up my spots and focused on what Paige (Churchfield) called back there.”

Swan Valley was the beneficiary of sloppy play by Linden in a pivotal third inning.

Three walks, two wild pitches and a hit batter led to a three-run outburst by the seventh-ranked Vikings (31-9).

Kelli Halvin and Reegan Flattery scored on wild pitches before Morgan Stadler drove in the final run of the inning with a double.

While Swan Valley is a regular participant in Battle Creek, reaching the MHSAA Semifinals is a rare treat for Linden (31-5). This is only the fourth Linden team in any sport to play in a Semifinal game, and the first girls team since the 1981 volleyball squad. The softball team hadn’t won a Regional before this season.

“It was a goal,” Linden coach Gordon Jamison said. “You always want to have high goals and expectations. I didn’t know we were going to do it. I’ve only been here four years, so it came fairly quick. It was a good group of girls, and they played together a lot.”

Swan Valley will play in the Division 2 final against unranked Tecumseh, a surprising 8-0 winner over second-ranked Ladywood. The title game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Bailey Park.

Tecumseh 8, Livonia Ladywood 0

Senior Emily Maves shut down reigning champion Ladywood (32-10), allowing only four hits and no walks while striking out 10.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Maves said. “I never thought we’d make it this far. I don’t think a lot of people thought we’d make it. We’re the underdogs.”

The Indians (32-5-3) got the only runs they would need on a three-run triple by senior Kylie Hill in the third inning. After taking a 4-0 lead in the fifth, Tecumseh broke open the game when a three-run homer by Kelsey Rendell highlighted a four-run sixth.

“That three-run triple was extremely huge,” Tecumseh coach Jeff Nowak said. “It took a little pressure off of Emily, and the kids kind of cruised from there.”

Click for full box scores.

PHOTOS: (Top) Swan Valley pitcher Courtney Reinhold warms up Friday on the way to beating Linden 5-2. (Middle) Tecumseh second baseman Claire Burnett tosses to first base during her team's Semifinal win over Ladywood. (Click to see more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Owosso Ace's Strikeout Total Stacks Up with State's All-Time Best

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

January 4, 2023

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.