USA Fearlessly Eludes Scare in D4 Repeat
June 18, 2016
By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING — Another pitcher might have backed down and avoided the threat altogether.
But Nikki Bauer of Unionville-Sebewaing isn't just an ordinary pitcher.
One day earlier, Cloe Mallory of Indian River Inland Lakes was intentionally walked in her next two at-bats after hitting a two-run homer that produced the game's only runs in an MHSAA Division 4 Semifinal victory over Holton.
The thought of pitching around Mallory never crossed Bauer's mind, not even when the possibility that one swing of the bat in the final inning could cost the Patriots a second straight MHSAA championship.
"I struck her out the time before," Bauer said. "I try not to be afraid of hitters, because it just messes with my mind."
Bauer went right at Mallory, and got more than she bargained for. Not only did she strike out the Central Michigan University commit for the third straight time, but catcher Sara Reinhardt caught Precious Delos Santos trying to steal second base for an unorthodox double play. Shortstop Marisa Morton stayed with the tag after Delos Santos overslid the base.
One groundout later, and the Patriots repeated as Division 4 champions with a 1-0 victory over Inland Lakes on Saturday at Michigan State University.
It's the fifth championship in 11 years for Unionville-Sebewaing, which also won back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007.
"I never actually thought this day would come, where I would be in the position to represent our town and represent our school," said senior Kayla Gremel, who scored the game's only run in the top of the sixth inning. "I'm proud. This is what we've worked for since we were little girls. The goal was to get to Battle Creek, then it changed to MSU. We showed everyone we can do it."
One game after Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central’s Meghan Beaubien threw only the second perfect game ever in an MHSAA Final, Bauer took a perfect game into the sixth inning. A lead-off single up the middle by Makayla Henckel in the sixth broke it up, but Bauer retired the next three batters.
"I don't really think about that," Bauer said of the perfect game. "I guess no runs is my goal. I was just thinking that every hit is a run; that's what my mindset was. I needed to keep that off the field."
Mallory, who has 15 homers, figured she would have to earn the Patriots' respect.
"Coming into this game, I didn't think they were going to intentionally walk me," she said. "Every game you have to prove yourself. I didn't do that much in this game."
It was the second year in a row that Bauer pitched a one-hit shutout and struck out 11 in the championship game. She started the 2014 Division 3 title game against Gladstone, but was pulled after four innings of a 2-1 loss.
"I know what losing here feels like, and I know what winning here feels like," Bauer said. "I know which one I want to feel."
Bauer is not only a dominant pitcher, but she has a 4.006 GPA and scored 33 (36 is perfect) on the ACT college entrance test. The combination of athletic and academic prowess earned her a softball scholarship to Stanford.
"The thing of it is, she's such a special person, just in terms of being a person, also," Patriots coach Steve Bohn said. "She's a great representative of Unionville-Sebewaing, a great representative for Stanford University. Everything she does is top-notch."
After battling with Mallory through five scoreless innings, Bauer got all of the support she would need in the top of the sixth.
Gremel led off with a single to center field, was bunted to second by Alexis Cady and advanced to third on a wild pitch. She beat the throw home when Marisa Morton bunted the ball to third base.
"I'm not the fastest girl on the team, but I knew I had to run my butt off in order to win," Gremel said. "That's just what I did, I guess. I knew that Nikki was on fire. I knew that their offense was slow, our offense was slow, so one run was going to put us ahead and get us the win."
The Patriots loaded the bases after Gremel scored, but couldn't add to their lead.
While Bauer pretty much cruised through the game, Mallory pitched with runners on base in all seven innings, but battled out of some tough situations to keep her team in the game. She gave up six hits, walked four and hit a batter one day after pitching a shutout against Holton.
The Patriots stranded nine runners.
"It's definitely hard, especially coming from yesterday when there was barely anyone on base to today when everyone was on base," Mallory said. "It's like you have to be perfect with every pitch and just know you've got to make this one or it's not going to end well."
It was only the second appearance ever for Inland Lakes in an MHSAA championship game in any sport. The 1998 baseball team lost in the Division 4 final to Southgate Aquinas. The school's only MHSAA title is in the nonbracketed sport of girls track and field (1979, Class D).
PHOTOS: (Top) Unionville-Sebewaing’s Nikki Bauer prepares to fire a pitch during the Division 4 Final. (Middle) The Patriots celebrate their latest championship at Secchia Stadium.
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.