By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Ottawa Lake-Whiteford senior Jessica Bubacz has helped the Bobcats to three straight Tri-County Conference championships and 41 straight league victories, after Whiteford’s wins Tuesday against Clinton.
This fall has been a continuation of her strong play as a junior that sees her now listed in the MHSAA record book in two assists categories – including as the co-record holder for assists in a match.
Bubacz had 65 assists in a 3-2 win over Clinton on Oct. 22, 2013, good to tie for the single-match record during the rally scoring era, which began during the 2004-05 season. She finished 2013 with 1,460 assists, fourth-most for one season since the start of rally scoring.
She’s continued with 810 assists over 86 games so far this fall, an average of 9.4 per game. She had 80 assists over seven sets Tuesday. Whiteford, a Class C team, is 29-7-1 overall.
For more on Whiteford and all things Tri-County Conference, click for the league’s blog by historian and journalist Doug Donnelly. Also, click to view the MHSAA volleyball record book in full, and see more recent submissions to other sports’ listings below (click each sport heading for that record book).
- Madison Heights Bishop Foley coach Dave Joseph has joined the list of coaches with at least 300 victories, with a 322-271 record dating to 1987. He coached at Pontiac and Oakland Catholic from 1987-93, then at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep from 1994-2003 and has coached Bishop Foley since 2005, including to a 15-9 finish in 2013-14.
- Don Robinson capped Genesee’s 1983 season and his three-year varsity career with three touchdowns in a 33-19 win over Flint Academy. His final score came on a 95-yard kickoff return, one of now 11 of that distance or longer listed in the MHSAA football records.
- Brendon Fitch put up “video-game numbers” as the Flint Journal reported Sept. 14, 2013, of his previous evening’s performance. Fitch threw for a then-record 603 yards, completing 26 of 41 passes, as Swartz Creek edged Flint Kearsley 77-61. Six of those completions went for touchdowns. Fitch died unexpectedly Dec. 10.
- Dylan Walker and Jeff Mainhardt entered the record book at the end of September as one of six pairs on record to complete a 99-yard pass – Walker to Mainhardt for a touchdown in Fraser’s 42-25 win over New Baltimore Anchor Bay. Walker threw for 242 yards for the game.
- Jason Alessi’s senior season was one of the finest in the MHSAA’s decade-long history of boys lacrosse. The Birmingham Brother Rice standout finished with 85 goals – tied for third most in MHSAA history for one season – to go with 46 assists, and his 131 points rank third for one season. Also a standout kicker and defensive back during the fall, Alessi is playing his first season of football at Yale University.
- Wayland’s run to the Division 2 Semifinals this spring featured outstanding performances from a number of contributors – including one of the best run-producers in MHSAA history. Shortstop Sierra Mutschler not only scored 71 runs (tied for ninth for one season) but drove in 86, fourth most for one season. Her 81 hits also were ninth-most in that category. She finished her four-year varsity career with 229 RBI, second-most all-time, 184 runs, 51 doubles and 30 home runs (tied for 14th). Teammate Britt McLain scored 80 runs this season, second-most in MHSAA history, and Mallory Teunissen made the season pitching wins list with 35. Other Wayland standouts past and present added to record lists included Autumn Anderson, Samantha Merren, Macy Merchant, Hailey Houck, Abby Phillips, Nina DeCesare, Becca Phillips, Kaitlin Graczyk and Heidi Warmelink, whose 78 shutouts from 2007-10 tied for fifth-most on that list.
- Hudsonville Unity Christian’s Madeline DeGroot had a game for the record books – literally – against Byron Center on May 1. She hit three home runs, including a pair in consecutive at bats, and drove in seven runs total in her team’s 14-6 victory. The team’s leadoff hitter, she also had a single to finish 4 for 4.
- Kalamazoo Loy Norrix’s Jake Gumbleton didn’t lose a match over his final three seasons before graduating this spring, an MHSAA-record string of 84 straight wins. He played No. 2 singles almost exclusively and finished with a 96-4 high school career record, slotting again last season in the second spot behind eventual Mr. Tennis winner Davis Crocker. The previous consecutive wins record was 80.
- Longtime Gaylord coach Jeff LaJoie has been added to the growing list of wrestling coaches with at least 500 match wins. LaJoie, who took over the program for 1993-94, took a season off and then returned for 1995-96, has a 519-125-2 record after leading Gaylord to a 30-2 finish last winter.
PHOTO: Ottawa Lake Whiteford's Jessica Bubacz (10) finishes a block during her team's victories Tuesday against Clinton. (Photo courtesy of Tri-County Conference blog by Doug Donnelly.)
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.