Unionville-Sebewaing's Dominance on Diamond Continues with 3rd-Straight Title
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com
June 18, 2022
EAST LANSING – Macy Reinhardt made the most of her final at-bat in a Unionville-Sebewaing uniform.
The senior standout helped create breathing room late in Saturday’s Division 4 Final en route to her team’s 4-1 win over Ottawa Lake Whiteford at Secchia Stadium.
Reinhardt launched a shot to the top of the wall on a 3-2 pitch in the sixth inning to drive in a pair of runs and extend the Patriots’ advantage.
“I knew it was probably going to be the last at-bat of my career, so I put a lot of heart and soul into it,” Reinhardt said. “‘I’m just glad I could pull it together for my team. Honestly, this never gets old and it’s special to win another one to end my high school career.”
The Patriots continued their dominance in Division 4 and won their fifth Finals championship over the last seven years.
The title also was their third in a row.
USA coach Isaiah Gainforth felt like his team’s experience played a major role in the victory.
“If you get down here for the last weekend, it’s anyone’s tournament and we have experience,” he said. “That’s the one thing we have going for us, and I thought we used that to our advantage a little bit.
“This isn't just a three-month sport at our school. It’s all year, and they’re committed. When you're driven to win a championship, they'll do anything if they trust you – and our girls trust us.”
After three scoreless innings, the Patriots capitalized on a two-out throwing error by the Bobcats in the fourth inning. USA scored twice on the play to go ahead 2-0.
The narrow margin remained that way until Reinhardt’s clutch hit doubled the lead.
“Reinhardt getting those two insurance runs in the sixth inning was huge, just huge for us,” Gainforth said. “And once you go up four going into the last two innings you feel good, but always prepare for them to get a hit so you try to stay a step ahead.”
Senior pitcher Laci Harris pitched well for the second-straight day. She struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter.
“This means a lot to me because the seniors are leaving history at our school by winning three in a row,” Harris said. “I wanted to win this last one as a senior, and Macy helped me a lot today. That was good for her, and I was happy for her because this was her last softball game.”
The Bobcats answered in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Junior Patrina Marsh doubled and sophomore Unity Nelson singled her in to trim the deficit to 4-1.
Whiteford had the game-tying run at the plate in its last at-bat, but Harris got a flyout to left to end the game.
The Bobcats were hoping to win their first Finals championship since 1987, but couldn’t break through despite out-hitting the Patriots 9-5.
“Two best teams in the state, without a doubt, and I felt like we were putting the ball in play and hitting it hard,” Whiteford coach Matt VanBrandt said. “To make it this far, you have to be really good. It takes a lot of talent and you just need a pinch of luck sometimes, too, and we just didn’t have it today.
“The girls fought hard all the way to the last out, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Marsh, Alyssa VanBrandt and Kaydence Sheldon each had two hits to lead Whiteford, while Nelson fanned 11.
PHOTOS (Top) The Unionville-Sebewaing softball team piles onto the field after the final out of Saturday’s Division 4 championship game at Secchia Stadium. (Middle) Whiteford catcher Kaydence Sheldon watches play unfold as USA’s Jenna Gremel crosses the plate.
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.