Dakota's Snyder a High Flier

November 19, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BATTLE CREEK – Carli Snyder was easy to find for a few reasons in the minutes before Macomb Dakota finished its first championship run Saturday at Kellogg Arena.

She was the only member of her team warming up in a power blue T-shirt, for example. Then there were the secret handshakes, each one different for every other starter on the floor.

But the most obvious show-stopper was simply the ridiculousness with which the 6-foot-1 Snyder smashed every ball into the wood below.

Especially at the high school level, an uncommon athlete is easy to spot. Snyder, a two-time all-stater who led the Cougars to the Class A title Saturday, is that athlete. She put the finishing touches over the weekend on one of the best hitting seasons in MHSAA volleyball history. And by this time next year, we might be calling her a two-time champion – and Miss Volleyball. 

“Her sophomore year, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s so (good).’ And then coming into this year, you didn't think she’d get that much better,” Dakota coach Tracie Ferguson said. “It’s just amazing how much she’s gotten better. I didn't think it was possible because she was so good last year.

“It’s just her mentality on the court and her leadership on the court and just keeping those girls calm and saying, ‘ We've got this.’ She’s grown so much since she was a freshman, on the mental part of it.”

Snyder gets a Second Half High 5 for leading her team to an unprecedented height. Unofficially, she finished this fall with 913 kills – good for seventh for one season in MHSAA history since the beginning of the rally scoring era in 2004-05. She had 31 kills in the Final, third most for a championship match since the scoring change. She also tallied 14 digs and three aces.

But this season, she took on something more that helped the Cougars go farther than they ever had during the 17-year history of the school.

“When I was a freshman in high school, we’d joke, ‘Freshman Carli lets out’ when I’d yell at the ref or something. I used to pull on my ears. I’d flip out if I did something wrong,” Snyder remembered Saturday. “This year, if I made a mistake, it’s next ball. Everybody knows I've got this, and it’s not the end of the world.

“A couple of years ago, it really seemed like it was.”

Dakota finished 19-27-3 the season before Snyder started high school. With her as a freshman, the Cougars improved to 28-17-4. Last fall, Dakota finished 32-13-2 and won a Regional title. And this season’s final record was 59-5.

That’s not to say Snyder was the only reason for the success. Half of Dakota’s starting lineup was seniors, and Snyder is one of four juniors talented enough to break into the main rotation. The rest of the lineup combined for 19 kills, and junior setter Megan Manuerski had 43 assists to also rank on the MHSAA Finals record book list.

But Snyder was the playmaker. Bedford managed only five blocks against Dakota. Snyder had only two errors on 54 attacks for an incredible .537 kill percentage.

“She’s pretty darn good. I wish she was a senior,” joked Bedford coach Jodi Manore, who has seen her share of big hitters over 28 seasons. “She was up over the top of us.”

Everyone knows by this point that Snyder is going to be on the attack just about every time. She had 50 of her team’s 94 kills on the weekend. Defenses are rarely caught off-guard. “It’s difficult. But I've played volleyball for a while so I’m not used to it, I’d say, but it’s kind of expected,” Snyder said. “And Megan, she puts the ball where sometimes the other team doesn't know. She holds the block so well."

Snyder will no doubt enter next season among favorites for that Miss Volleyball award, along with Battle Creek St. Philip hitter Sierra Hubbard-Neil among those who claimed championships over the weekend. Snyder also has already committed to play at the University of Florida, the Southeastern Conference champion this fall. 

And she'll get plenty more chances to add to her legacy as the Cougars likely will enter next fall as Class A favorites again.

“Physically, yeah, she’s hitting the ball harder. She’s jumping higher. Absolutely,” Ferguson said. “But that’s going to continue as she grows.

“But the mentality part of it, she’s just such a great player to play with. You want her on your team. She’s just such a motivator and a confidence builder for the rest of them. She really led the way.” 

PHOTOS: (Top) Macomb Dakota's Carli Snyder (5) celebrates a point with her team during Saturday's championship match. (Middle) Snyder swings on one of her many kills attempts against Temperance Bedford.

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

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)