Beaverton Volleyball Makes History Twice

November 10, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Beaverton’s dream volleyball season ended Thursday with a Class C Regional Final loss to Shelby.

But the Beavers never will forget how they fulfilled aspirations and inspired future generations by winning multiple first-time championships this fall.

The MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” for October clinched its first league and District championships in program history, earning a banner-sized place on the gym wall alongside a number of Beaverton programs that have had success over the decades.

The Beavers claimed the Jack Pine Conference title during the final week of October with a 13-1 league record and by two victories over runner-up Houghton Lake. They then hosted and won their Class C District, sweeping both matches of the tournament including the final against Coleman on Nov. 2.

“We really wanted to win that banner. We really tried to win that banner. We hoped we’d win it,” Beaverton coach Scott Evans said. “Now we’ll be more hungry for it, and now that we’ve been there we’ll be more confident.

“When I first came here, the team I had had a lot of talent. But we would go to tournaments and not win a set. I’d say, ‘How did we not win a set? We’re better than some of these teams.’ What we realized is they didn’t know how to win, didn’t know they deserved to win. Once we tasted winning, we didn’t need to teach it anymore. We’ve tasted winning a conference, winning a District, and we can definitely do it again.”

Evans finished his ninth season leading the program, and surely the Beavers have come a long way – when they won 12 matches his first season, he was told that was the program record for wins.

This fall, Beaverton finished 35-11 for its second-most victories behind a 38-12 run a few seasons ago – but with this one against a more competitive slate of opponents. The Beavers won tournament matches early against Rogers City (still alive in Class D) and Muskegon Catholic Central (which lost Thursday) and took competitive losses to Corunna (still alive in Class B) and Saginaw Swan Valley (which lost to Corunna during their Regional).

“I just realized that even when we lost to these good teams, there was no let up, no quit,” Evans said. “A lot of times when you play ranked teams above you, you’re just in line – this is just happening (to us) – and this team didn’t have that. They’d just fight, no matter what the score was. We could be down a set and they’d fight. We could be down 10 points and they’d fight. And if teams let up on us, we could come back and get them.”

Beaverton had finished second in the Jack Pine three times under Evans and third twice, including last fall. The Beavers also had made District Finals twice during his tenure, most recently in 2013.

There definitely were expectations this fall. Three years ago the team had no seniors, forcing Evans to bring up sophomores who were talented enough to play but could’ve also benefitted from more time on the junior varsity.

That said, he’d noticed in the past a big jump in players’ understanding of the team’s system after their second seasons on varsity – a good sign with this the third for those seniors who came up as sophomores. Seniors this fall filled all but one starting spot.

Left-side hitter Ali Aldrich led the Beavers in kills for the second straight season, this fall with 461 to top a balanced attack that included four on the outside capable of killing points plus two middles who often were forgotten by defenses because of that outside attack. Another senior hitter – Reiss Faber – also spent half her time setting the offense, and senior libero Dallas Longstreth set season (803) and career (1,467) records for digs in keying the defense.

Evans doesn’t expect another eternity to pass before Beaverton earns more hardware. Two freshmen came up this season and made big contributions – Molly Gerow was the second-leading hitter with 295 kills, and Taylor Inscho handled setting when Faber was not.  

Having those freshmen as part of this run was by design. Evans preaches for his players to hand down a legacy and tries to get younger players on the roster to soak up some of that experience.

The legacy these seniors are leaving behind just happens to include a couple of championships.

“Our gym doesn’t have a volleyball banner, and we always talk about let’s be the team that puts them up,” Evans said. “Our goal is always that, but it’s not our focus – we focus on what we do, the things we can control, who we are playing, and doing our jobs. (But) they’re excited. This team has had energy all year. I’m still playing videos over and over of our last points when we win, when we won the conference, when we won the District. Just the excitement level of the players and fans, it is just fun to watch. It was just contagious this year, the excitement and emotion they put into the game.”

Past Teams of the Month, 2017-18
September: Shepherd girls golf - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) Beaverton poses with its Jack Pine Conference championship trophy Oct. 25 to celebrate its first league title. (Middle) Senior Reiss Faber serves during a match this fall. (Top photo by Stephanie Johnston, middle photo by Bob Frei.)

JoBurg 3-Sport Great Capping Career Filled with All-State Honors, Team Trophies

By Tom Spencer
Special for

April 5, 2024

It won’t be hard for Jayden Marlatt to remember opening day on the softball field from any of her four years at Johannesburg-Lewiston.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAs a freshman, she missed the opener due to needing to quarantine. Her sophomore and junior years started on the road because the Cardinals’ field was under construction.  

This season the Cardinals will open up — weather permitting — on their brand-new field, hosting Mio on Monday, April 8.  Marlatt is slated to be the starting pitcher again and add to her school record collection.

While Johannesburg-Lewiston is looking forward to playing on the new diamond, Marlatt and her teammates have high hopes of finishing the season almost 200 miles south. They’re looking to get back to Michigan State University – the site of the Division 4 Semifinals and Final.

The Cards have had their sites on that goal since they fell 4-2 to Mendon in last year’s Semifinal at Secchia Stadium. The loss ended a 30-4-1 campaign that saw the Cardinals play every game on the road for a second consecutive year, but come up only one victory short of a first championship game appearance.

The trip to East Lansing also came after the Cards won the program’s first District title since 2008 and advanced to the Semifinals for the first time since 1981.

“It has been a long two seasons on the road,” said eighth-year head coach Kim Marlatt, noting the team utilized a Little League field for practices during the stretch. “They’ve been putting in a lot of work in the offseason, so it is excited to get going.”

Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. The new field isn’t the only new things this spring. The Cardinals will have a junior varsity team for the first time during the Marlatt’s tenure. The JV squad is coached by Ryan Marlatt, who has been serving the program the past eight years as assistant coach. He also has been the head girls basketball coach at JoBurg the past two seasons.

The Marlatt coaches are the proud parents of Jayden, who continues to garner recognition as perhaps the greatest athlete in Johannesburg-Lewiston’s history. 

The three-sport star had a huge hand in all that JoBurg accomplished last season leading the team in batting average (.670), home runs (13) and runs batted in (61). As the team’s ace pitcher, she collected 249 strikeouts and compiled a 1.32 ERA.

“Jayden has put in the hard work,” Kim pointed out.  “She is a very humble athlete. ‘She doesn’t like to talk about herself. She likes to compete, and she likes to be on the top of her game for her teammates.”

Jayden has been named all-conference and all-state in softball, basketball and volleyball nearly every season over her four years at JoBurg. She’s led her teams to Ski Valley Conference, District and Regional titles along the way.

She’s also been named Player of the Year by multiple publications. And she’s a front runner to be voted the Most Valuable Player of the Ski Valley Conference in softball. Earlier this year, league coaches voted her the MVP for both basketball and volleyball.  

“The Ski Valley never used to vote on an MVP,” Ryan Marlatt said. “Hopefully she can add the triple crown and get softball this year.”

Jayden Marlatt, who has played all three sports all four years, acknowledged softball is perhaps her most treasured, and she’ll continue in that sport at Ferris State. Her career total of more than 500 strikeouts, and her 14 home runs last season, are both JoBurg school records. "I like them all but probably softball,” she confirmed when asked to name her favorite sport.

She averaged 12 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and four steals per game this winter helping the Cards basketball team to a conference runner-up finish. She was key to JoBurg's ability to put a 12-game winning streak together, and she topped the 1,000-point career mark along the way.

Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season.Her outstanding senior year on the basketball court and this spring’s possibilities nearly vanished as the volleyball season ended.

She suffered what looked to be a serious lower-leg injury in the final game of the JoBurg volleyball season. “She finished in the emergency room,” Kim Marlatt said.  

Diagnosed a high ankle sprain, it was an aggravation to an injury from her junior year in basketball. She wasn’t quite at 100 percent on the basketball court this season until the holiday break. She’s starting the softball season healthy, though.

Before the injury, Jayden led the Cards to their third volleyball conference championship over the last four years. After becoming JoBurg's all-time kills leader during her junior season, and with many of her teammates from her first three seasons graduating, Jayden had to fill a variety of roles while anchoring the offense from her outside hitter spot.

She ended up leading the team in both kills with 421 and digs, with 431, in her final season on the volleyball court. And she is listed among MHSAA’s all-time leaders in kills for a single match and career.

It’s more than Marlatt’s stats that stand out for Kristine Peppin, the school’s volleyball coach the past 15 years.

“It is not about the size of the school or the size of the player, it’s the heart that they have inside,” she proclaimed. “This girl would be a successful player on whatever team she was on. 

“Yes we’re a small school, small town,” she continued. “That kind of leadership and heart and drive to be the best is what’s given her that success.”

Marlatt’s work ethic is second to none, Peppin noted. She never saw Jayden give less than a “1,000” percent in practice or games in her career. 

Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt.“She’s a super hard worker and extremely modest for the kind of skill she possesses and the success she’s had,” Peppin said. “Her teammates think it’s amazing to be on her team.”

Marlatt’s volleyball skills caught the eye of at least one of her conference opponents’ coaches back in junior high. Ron Stremlow was performing one of his many coaching duties for Fife Lake Forest Area when he first saw Jayden on the volleyball court.

“I could tell then this girl was somebody special,” said Stremlow, who became one of the winningest coaches in state volleyball history with the Warriors. “When she got in high school, it just took off.

“She puts the time into it, and she works hard,” Stremlow continued. “Kids like that get what they deserve – they work for it.”

Stremlow, now retired, also acknowledged he’s enjoyed being able to watch the hard-throwing Marlatt on the softball field the last couple of seasons as Forest Area hosted the Cardinals consecutively due to JoBurg’s lack of a home field.

It’s something he’ll have to travel to do this year though, as JoBurg is scheduled to host the Warriors on April 15.

The Cardinals also will host a Regional on their new field June 8. The winners of District play at Rogers City, Harbor Springs, St. Ignace and Gaylord St. Mary will participate.

To play in the Regional, the Cards will have to emerge from the Rogers City District featuring the host Hurons, Atlanta, Hillman, Onaway, and Posen.

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Jayden Marlatt drives a pitch during softball season. (2) Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. (3) Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season. (4) Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt. (Action shots by Dylan Jespersen/Petoskey News-Review; family photo by Breya Domke.)