Unexpected Ubly Reaches Season Finale

June 14, 2013

By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half

BATTLE CREEK — Nobody outside of Ubly expected the Bearcats to be playing for the MHSAA Division 4 softball championship.

Even some within the inner circle were skeptical.

"It's crazy and unbelievable," senior catcher Alyssa Briolat said following an 8-6 victory over Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in a Semifinal on Friday at Bailey Park. "I would never have thought this would happen. It's just so surreal. I'm on cloud nine and my feet haven't touched the ground yet since we've been here. Now that we're going to the Final, we just need to keep it up and play our game."

It's understandable that Ubly's trip to the Final has caught everyone by surprise. The Bearcats (27-6) had never won a Regional championship until this season and were unranked. Even as they marched all the way to Battle Creek, they did so without facing a team that even merited honorable mention in the final state rankings.

But against a fourth-ranked Liggett team that allowed two runs or fewer in 26 of its 31 games, Ubly became the first team this season to put up eight runs against the Knights (27-5).

"At the beginning of the season, regionals was our goal," Ubly coach Courtney Dekoski said. "Last year we lost in the first round of regionals, so our goal was to improve there. Look where we are."

The Bearcats are playing on the final day of the season against top-ranked Kalamazoo Christian at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Bailey Park. After toppling the fourth-ranked team in the state, the Bearcats won't be intimidated against a program that owns six MHSAA titles.

"I'm psyched," Dekoski said. "There's no stopping us now with the momentum we have and the girls we have. It's anybody's game."

The key to Ubly's victory was a four-run third inning that featured a two-run homer by Briolat.

"I definitely wasn't trying for a home run," Briolat said. "I just wanted to get a hit. I struggled a little in the quarterfinal and I struck out my first at bat. I just wanted to make some contact. Right from the bat, it felt good."

The home run gave Ubly a 4-1 lead. Liggett scored twice in the bottom of the third inning to make it 4-3, but the Knights could never catch up. A three-run fifth got Liggett within 7-6, but Ubly got breathing room when Maria Guza led off the seventh with a home run.

Julia DeRoo gave Liggett a chance by leading off the seventh with a single, but she was picked off when pitcher Michela Guza speared a line drive by Emily Kanakry and threw to first base to complete a rally-killing double play.

"I was paying attention and knew if I caught it, I saw her off the base and we might have a double play," Guza said.

Maria Guza and Briolat drove in three runs each for Ubly.

Kalamazoo Christian 2, Rogers City 0

Senior Stephanie VanderLugt pitched a two-hit shutout for Kalamazoo Christian. She struck out nine and allowed only one run.

Rogers City's only significant threat came in the top of the seventh inning, when it put runners on first and second with one out. VanderLugt forced two popups to second base to end the game.

"I was a little nervous, because they could win with a home run, and I knew they had quite a few home runs over the whole year," VanderLugt said. "I was just trying to focus on my game, rather than what their batters had."

VanderLugt got all the support she would need when freshman Kara Gjeltema hit a solo homer to right field with one out in the fourth inning. The Comets got an insurance run when Carly Vandenberg led off the fifth with a double and scored on an error.

Kalamazoo Christian has won eight straight games, outscoring its competition 67-8, since getting swept 11-0, 15-5 late in the season by Division 1 powerhouse Mattawan.

"We don't see a Division 4 team until we get to this," Kalamazoo Christian coach Karla Reno said. "Locally, we've got Portage Central, Portage Northern, Mattawan, Coloma, Wayland, who are really top teams. All of the KVA teams are bigger schools than us. It helps prepare us tremendously. You can never play good teams too much. It helps bring our level of play up."

Rogers City (33-7) was in the semifinals for the first time since 2004, scoring 77 runs in six postseason games before getting blanked.

"We ran into a really good pitcher today," Rogers City coach Karl Grambau said. "We just couldn't come up with the big hit. We hit the ball all year. We're a great hitting team. You've got to give the Kalamazoo Christian pitcher a lot of credit."

Kalamazoo Christian is in the MHSAA Final for the ninth time, but the first time since 2002. The Comets have won the last six times they've reached the title game.

Click for full box scores.

PHOTOS: (Top) Ubly first baseman Lindsey Briolat prepares to scoop up a grounder during Friday's Semifinal win over University Liggett. (Middle) Kalamazoo Christian pitcher Stephanie VanderLugt delivers during her shutout of Rogers City. (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.