Unbeaten Spring Lake Eyes Perfect Finish

June 7, 2018

By Tom Kendra
Special for Second Half

It didn’t matter if it was driving rain, scorching heat, prom day, snowflakes, seven-game weeks, high winds, AP testing time or even a high-stakes showdown with archrival Grand Haven in the annual “Battle of the Bridge” at the end of May.

This Spring Lake girls softball team found a way to win – every game, 38 in a row and counting, to be exact.

Spring Lake coach Bill Core says that incredible consistency is what sets this team apart from any other in his 29 years at the helm.

“This is the most incredibly focused team I’ve ever had,” said Core, who hit the lofty 600-win mark for his coaching career last month. “They pay attention to detail. I think they’re on a mission.”

No. 2-ranked Spring Lake (38-0) puts its perfect season on the line against No. 6 Wayland in Saturday’s 11 a.m. opener in the MHSAA Division 2 Regional Tournament at Hope College in Holland.

The winner of that showdown will face the Comstock Park vs. Holland Christian winner in Saturday’s 3 p.m. Regional championship game.

The Lakers are led by junior ace Leah Vaughan, who sports a perfect 26-0 record, with a miniscule 0.83 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 152 innings pitched. Vaughan was sharp in Saturday’s competitive home District, striking out 10 in a 7-2 victory over neighboring rival Fruitport and then whiffing nine in a 7-1 win over Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue foe Allendale.

While Vaughan is expected to carry the load the rest of the way, Spring Lake also has a solid No. 2 pitcher in senior Lauren Somers, who has a 12-0 record and 2.41 ERA in 61 innings pitched.

On the offensive side, Spring Lake puts pressure on opponents with hitting threats throughout the lineup.

Madelyn Nelson, a senior shortstop, leads the team with a gaudy .636 batting average, 82 hits and 33 stolen bases in 33 attempts. While she certainly has college-level softball skills, Nelson will play golf at Valparaiso University in Indiana. Nelson was part of three straight Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship golf teams for Spring Lake from 2014 to 2016.

Vaughan also does her part at the plate, batting .532 with a team-high 63 RBI. Other top hitters are a pair of senior returning all-staters in second baseman Linsey Paggeot (.484 with 57 RBI) and centerfielder Lauren Hellman (.477 with 17 stolen bases in 18 attempts).

The biggest long-ball threat is junior outfielder Jenna Core, the oldest of Coach Core’s three children (and only girl), who has 10 home runs and 45 RBI. She already holds the school record with 24 home runs over her three-year varsity career, with one more season to go. Core and his wife, Tracy, also have two boys coming up in the Spring Lake system – Jackson, in 8th grade, and Jaden, 5th grade.

“Our lineup from 1 to 9 is pretty solid,” said the 55-year-old Bill Core. “That allows us to have more big innings. If you have a few good batters, you might score two or three runs, but we can keep it rolling and score six or seven.”

Spring Lake has had plenty of big innings this year, outscoring its opponents by a 424-54 margin.

The other starters for the team include junior catcher and No. 5 batter Molly Poole (.358 with 43 RBI), freshman third baseman Alicia Mumby (.410 with three home runs) and senior outfielder Kileah Rymal (.308).

At the “core” of the Lakers’ softball success is Coach Core, the oldest of four boys who grew up in a sports-crazy family in the sports-crazy town of Traverse City.

Core, now 55, played quarterback for legendary Traverse City coach Jim Ooley and was the first starting quarterback for the West team in the inaugural East-West Michigan High School All-Star Football Game in 1981.

He went on to play one year of football and four years of basketball and baseball at Alma College.

Core, who is assisted by Sarah Bulthuis and Kolbey Nelson, has turned Spring Lake into a regional power in both boys basketball and softball. Now that those programs have stocked several trophy cases with conference, District and Regional hardware, the new goal is to take the next step and get the Lakers to the “Final Four” at Michigan State University.

The Lakers’ basketball team came tantalizingly close in 2017, losing a 46-44 heartbreaker to Benton Harbor in the Class B Quarterfinals. The softball team, which has now won four consecutive District championships and 12 of the past 16 conference titles, broke through last spring with the school’s first-ever Regional championship. Spring Lake’s run was then ended in the Quarterfinals by Stevensville-Lakeshore, 6-1.

If the Lakers are able to win two more games Saturday and improve to 40-0, there is a good chance they could get a Quarterfinal rematch back at Hope College on June 12 with top-ranked Stevensville-Lakeshore.

Core said that season-ending loss last June has motivated this year’s team every day.

“We returned eight starters from last year’s team, so they know how to win and they also learned what they need to do better,” explained Core. “This is the real test now. Now we’ll be in those 2-1 and 3-2 games and, hopefully, that experience will pay off for us.”

Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at kendra.tom@gmail.com with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Spring Lake coach Bill Core huddles with his team during a game this season. (Middle) Pitcher Leah Vaughan begins her approach toward the plate. (Photos courtesy of the Spring Lake softball program.)

Otsego's Bolhuis Earns Record Book Fame with Elite Ability to Get On Base

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 2, 2022

Jada Bolhuis finished up her Otsego softball career this spring all over the MHSAA record book – and despite playing only three seasons because 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19.

Bolhuis owns 12 entries in the MHSAA record book including for 228 career runs (16th all-time), 230 career hits and a .622 career batting (sixth all-time) over 112 games and three varsity seasons.

She also made the hitting streak list twice, with a run of 44 straight games with a hit from April of her freshman year until the end of April of her junior season, and for a 33-game hitting streak during her junior and senior springs. The 44-game streak is the second-longest in MHSAA history.

Bolhuis also is a track sprinter and is slated to run at University of Tampa.

We’re continuing to catch up on adding record book listings. See below for more of the most recent added for softball.

Softball

Richland Gull Lake’s Savanna Disbrow had a par of significant run-producing games over the course of two weeks in May 2021. She drove in seven runs against Mattawan that May 5, then eight in a win over Delton Kellogg on May 20. She played this past season at Bemidji State in Minnesota.

Gabby Schloop put up a senior season to remember for Midland in 2021, posting the fifth-most runs scored (83) and tying for the fifth-most doubles (27) in MHSAA history, while also making the single-season hits list with 70 and career doubles list with 49 over three seasons. Taylor Sanborn also made the single-season hits list in 2021 as a senior, and also with 70. Sanborn continued her career at Calvin University, and Schloop at Northwood.

Maddisyn Miller also was added for RBI in a single game, driving in seven May 12, 2021, for Ovid-Elsie against Laingsburg. She is a junior this fall.

Rochester Adams earned its first softball record book entries in 2021. Then-junior Sabrina Lee was added for getting hit by 17 pitches over 34 games. Teammate Elizabeth Blaine, a senior that season, hit home runs in consecutive at bats, both in the second inning, of a game against Auburn Hills Avondale.

Potent offense helped drive Grandville to a 31-5 finish in 2019, with a number of top hitters in the record book. As a team, the Bulldogs are listed for 399 hits, 76 doubles, 34 home runs and 292 RBI that season. Then-senior Taylor Buiter was added for 10 home runs, including a pair in consecutive at bats, and then-junior Maddi Ungrey was added for three home runs in the same game all in consecutive at bats as well. Then-senior Lexi Dukesherer became the first player listed for being hit by a pitch twice in the same inning, and she also made the single-game list in that category for three. Additionally, former Grandville standout Carrie Mesman was added for her 17 doubles in 2015. Mesman went on to play at Aquinas College, and Buiter played at Ferris State.

Bath’s Bailee Buck has become the first entry for career times hit by pitches, as she totaled 30 over 99 games from 2017-19 (with her senior season of 2020 canceled due to COVID-19). She also made the single-game list with three HBPs as a junior. Teammate Ally Estrada was added twice for hitting consecutive home runs, five days apart during the 2019 season, and also for driving in seven runs in the first of those games May 18, 2019, against Algonac. Estrada graduated this spring.

Grosse Pointe South’s Shannon Dame became the second player added to the single-season hit-by-pitch list. She was hit by 20 pitches during the 2021 season, when she was a junior.  

A trio of New Lothrop hitters were added for hitting during the 2021 spring, led by then-junior Jersey Hemgesberg who was added for 73 hits, 25 doubles and 12 home runs over 38 games – with the 25 doubles tying for seventh-most in MHSAA history. Additionally, Brynne Birchmeier was added for 20 doubles and Marissa Rombach for 17. Both are juniors this fall.

Bloomfield Hills sophomore Hannah Grant made the single-game lists for home runs and RBI during a win over Berkley on April 7. She had three homers and six RBI in the 9-7 win; the three homers tied for second-most in one contest.

Buchanan sophomore Hailee Kara also joined the single-game RBI list with nine during a 19-7 win over Vicksburg on April 21. The nine RBI tied for seventh-most in one contest.

PHOTO Jada Bolhuis makes a throw to first base during Otsego’s District Final win over South Haven this spring. (Photo by Gary Shook.)