Preview: Serving Up MHSAA History

November 20, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

It’s hard to remember the last time Battle Creek St. Philip didn’t win the MHSAA Class D volleyball championship – except perhaps for fellow semifinalist Leland, the last to claim the title before the Tigers won the last seven.

St. Philip can tie Marysville’s MHSAA record eight straight titles this weekend and is among three regular-season favorites making the trip to Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena – St. Philip, Mendon in Class C and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep in Class B all were ranked No. 1 in their respective classes heading into the tournament three weeks ago.

There are plenty of opportunities for firsts as well this weekend – nine of 16 teams making the trip are seeking their first MHSAA titles. Also appearing on the Kellogg court are three of this season’s Miss Basketball finalists: St. Philip’s Sierra Hubbard-Neil, Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Jessie Kopmeyer and East Grand Rapids’ Maeve McDonald.

Below is a look at all 16 teams playing. Class D and A Semifinals are today, with Class B and C on Friday and all four Finals on Saturday. All four Semifinals and Finals will be streamed live on a subscription bases and then archived at MHSAA.TVClick here for a full schedule of this weekend's games, plus links to brackets from every round of the tournament. Tickets cost $6 for Semifinals (both matches combined) and $7 per Final, with a Semifinal-Final ticket available for $15.

(NOTE: Rankings are those published by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association. Player statistics are through Regional Finals.)

Class A

49-15, No. 3
Coach: Angela Kalczynski, first season (49-15)
League finish: Tied for first in Detroit Catholic League Central.
Championship game history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2010), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 2-1, 2-1 and 3-1 (Regional Final) over No. 10 Clarkston, 2-1 over No. 2 Portage Central, 2-0 over No. 9 Temperance Bedford, 2-0 and 2-0 over No. 5 Novi, 2-0 over No. 6 Northville.
Players to watch: Jessie Kopmeyer, 5-10 sr. OH; Paige Carey, 6-1 sr. MH; Morgan Garmo, 5-6 jr. S/L. (Statistics not submitted).
Finals forecast: Marian is loaded with experience, with Kopmeyer a returning all-stater, Carey an all-state honorable mention in 2012 and Garmo an all-region pick. On top of its impressive list of wins is a similarly impressive list of losses – Marian has played most of the best teams in Class A and also owns a win over Class B No. 4 Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central. The Mustangs made at least the Quarterfinals every season from 2004-05 through 2010, but this is their first appearance at the Finals since that last championship.

48-5-3, No. 8
Coach: Christine Grunewald, third season (137-21-3)
League finish: First in O-K White.
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-0, 3-0 and 3-0 (District Semifinal) over honorable mention Grand Rapids Christian, 2-0 and 2-1 over honorable mention Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, 2-0 over No. 3 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 2-0 over No. 2 Portage Central, 3-0 over honorable mention East Kentwood (District Quarterfinal), 3-1 over No.4 Rockford (Regional Final).
Players to watch: Maeve McDonald, 5-6 sr. S (1,133 assists, 404 digs); Caroline Knooihuizen, 5-9 sr. OH (576 kills, 317 digs); Jordan Clappison, 5-7 fr. OH (251 kills, 257 digs); Zoe Macartney, 6-1 soph. MH (245 kills, 107 blocks).
Finals forecast: East Grand Rapids has won three league, two District and two Regional titles under Grunewald, who previously coached Lake Odessa Lakewood and can win her 350th match in the Semifinal. The Pioneers made the semis in Class B in 2010 and 2011, both times losing to Fruitport including in five sets two years ago. McDonald was a Miss Volleyball candidate this fall, while Knooihuizen also is back in Battle Creek as one of the team’s top hitters after making all-region in 2012.

51-11-12, No. 6
Coach: Amanda Yaklin, fifth season (183-54-31) 
League finish: Second in Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-1 and 2-0 over No. 3 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 2-0 over No. 9 Temperance Bedford, 2-1 over No. 10 Clarkston, 2-1 and 3-0 (District Final) over No. 5 Novi.
Players to watch: Symone Abbott, 6-0 sr. OH (701 kills 334 digs), Rachel Zawodny, 5-6 sr. S (855 assists, 247 digs); Olivia Boisineau, 6-1 jr. M (218 kills, 106 blocks).
Finals forecast: Northville will follow up last season’s first-ever Semifinal appearance with this second in a row and has now won 40 or more matches in each of the last three seasons. Abbott returns as the team’s best hitter and Zawodny and senior Katherine Boss have stepped in to replace the team’s graduated all-state setter. A current streak of 11 straight wins has included many of the team’s best as it grew from a 6-6-4 midseason stretch.

65-9-2, No. 9
Coach: Jodi Manore, 29th season (1,744-292-50) 
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference
Championship game history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2005), five runner-up finishes. 
Best wins: 2-1,  2-0 and 3-2 (District Semifinal) over No. 6 Northville, 3-2 over honorable mention Livonia Stevenson in the Quarterfinal, 2-1 and 2-1 over Class D No. 1 Battle Creek St. Philip, 2-0 over Class B No. 1 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 2-0 over Class C No. 1 Mendon.
Players to watch:  Mackenzie Andrews, 5-9 sr. S (1,839 assists), Nicole Rightnowar 5-11 jr. MH (486 kills, 175 blocks, 506 digs); Kayla Gwozdz, 5-11 jr. OH (635 kills, 503 digs).
Finals forecast: Bedford, last season's Class A runner-up, can claim the rare feat of beating the No. 1-ranked teams in Class B, C and D this season, and also took two matches from Class B No. 4 Monroe St. Mary. Bedford reached the 2012 Final while unranked, but voters did not overlook the Kicking Mules this season ranking them as high as No. 6. Rightnowar and Gwozdz both earned all-state honorable mentions last season as sophomores and are two of five on their team with at least 225 kills this fall.  

Class B

45-7-1, No. 7
Coach: Michelle Brines, 14th season (572-183-32) 
League finish: Second in Big North Conference 
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-0 over Class A honorable mention Holland West Ottawa, 2-0 over Class D No. 6 Leland, 2-0 over Class C honorable mention Bad Axe, 2-1 over Class C honorable mention Boyne City.
Players to watch: Selena Golnick, 5-11 sr. MH (566 kills, 140 blocks, 261 digs); Hannah Baker, 5-9 sr. S (1,083 assists, 295 digs); Morgan Briggs, 5-9 soph. OH (322 kills, 426 digs). 
Finals forecast: Tuesday marked Cadillac’s fourth straight trip to the Quarterfinals, and this weekend will include its first Semifinal appearance since 2010. Golnick was an all-state honorable mention hitter last season and Baker an all-region setter, and they’ve led a team that beat most of the best from the northern Lower Peninsula. Cadillac also played a number of schools its size and larger at tournaments – they won two, their flight in a third and finished runner-up twice.

45-11-1, No. 5
Coach: Allison Sagraves, fifth season (177-100-2)
League finish: Second in O-K Gold
Championship game history: Class B champion Winter 2007, runner-up 2006.
Best wins: 2-0, 2-0 and 3-0 (Regional Semifinal) over No. 6 Holland Christian, 3-2 over Class A honorable mention Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, 2-1 and 2-0 over Class A honorable mention East Kentwood, 2-0 and 2-0 over Class A honorable mention Grand Rapids Christian, 2-1, 2-0, 2-0 and 2-0 over Class A No. 1 Hudsonville,
Players to watch: Danielle Oeverman, 5-11 sr. MB (387 kills, 139 blocks); Emily Blankespoor, 5-9 sr. S (1,187 assists, 339 digs); Taylor Wierenga, 6-0 sr. OH (346 kills, 129 digs); Cassidy Vredevoogd, 6-0 sr. OH (308 kills, 296 digs).
Finals forecast: The Sailors have improved their win total each season under Sagraves, a coaching legacy whose mother Deb Park led East Kentwood to a Class A runner-up finish in 1983. South Christian has shined against the best from the Grand Rapids area, beating the top-ranked team in Class A, Hudsonville, four times. Oeverman made the all-state third team last season and is part of a strong senior attack that’s helped key 10 wins in the Sailors’ last 11 matches.

60-2-1, No. 1
Coach: Betty Wroubel, 20th season (770-188-81) 
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League AA
Championship game history: Class B champion Fall 2007.
Best wins: 2-0 over No. 9 Croswell-Lexington, 2-0 over No. 8 Mount Morris, 2-0 and 2-0 over No. 10 Frankenmuth, 3-2 over No. 3 North Branch in Quarterfinal, 3-0 over Class A No. 3 Bloomfield Hills Marian.
Players to watch: Katherine Carlson, 5-11 jr. OH (917 kills, 327 digs); Dani McCormick, 6-1 sr. MH (442 kills, 65 blocks); Hannah Antosz, 5-7 jr. S (804 assists); Ashley Knutson, 5-7 jr. S (741 assists).  
Finals forecast: Notre Dame Prep’s only losses this season were to Class A Semifinalist Temperance Bedford and honorable mention Lake Orion, making this the Fighting Irish’s most impressive run of at least the past two decades – including, so far, its championship season of 2007. Wroubel has led teams to MHSAA titles in both volleyball and softball during her time as one of the state’s winningest coaches. The hitters are exceptional; Carlson made the all-state first team last season and McCormick made the third as Notre Dame advanced to the Quarterfinals.

60-5-1, No. 2
Coach: Kim Getty, fifth season (220-77-18) 
League finish: First in O-K Gold
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-0 and 2-1 over No. 6 Holland Christian, 3-0 and 3-0 over No.5 Grand Rapids South Christian, 3-1 over No. 4 Monroe St. Mary in the Quarterfinal, 2-1 over Class A No. 8 East Grand Rapids, 2-0 over Class D No. 1 Battle Creek St. Philip.
Players to watch: Krissy Dill, sr. OH (653 kills, 607 digs); Allison Getty, sr. OH (746 kills, 634 digs); Samantha Geivett, sr. S (1,459 assists, 388 digs).
Finals forecast: Wayland has won either its league, District or both the last four seasons, but took a jump this fall. The Wildcats also beat ranked Class C teams Schoolcraft and Bronson and have won 16 straight matches. This is the first time Wayland has made the final week of the season, and it appears poised for more with five senior starters playing their final high school matches. Dill and Allison Getty are tough to contend with at the net – both made the all-state second team in 2012.

Class C

38-7-8, unranked
Coach: Priscilla Larned, 29th season (875-329-68)
League finish: First in Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 3-2 over Ottawa Lake Whiteford in the Quarterfinal, 3-0 over Troy Athens, 3-1 and 3-2 over Ann Arbor Greenhills, 3-1 and 3-2 over Westland Huron Valley Lutheran.
Players to watch: Marcella Compeau, sr. OH/L (375 kills, 117 aces, 584 digs); Camille Schomer, soph. OH/L (320 kills, 561 digs), Elaine Haggard, jr. S (962 assists, 206 digs)
Finals forecast: This will be the fifth Semifinal for Oakland Christian under Larned, also one of the state’s winningest coaches. Half the roster is underclassmen – including freshman starting hitter Alexandra Gudobba; four seniors also start. The Lancers had fallen twice this season to Whiteford before avenging those defeats with a close victory in the Quarterfinal – the first match during the MHSAA tournament Oakland Christian didn’t sweep.

55-3-1, No. 3
Coach: Kelly David, second season (98-13-2)
League finish: First in Highland Conference
Championship game history: Class D runner-up 2012.
Best wins: 2-1 over No. 5 St. Louis, 3-1 over honorable mention Traverse City St. Francis in the Regional Final, 3-1 over honorable mention Calumet in the Quarterfinal.
Players to watch: Addie Schumacher, 5-11 sr. MB (574 kills, .376 hitting %, 162 blocks, 412 digs); Melanie Schafer, 5-4 sr. OH (239 kills, 600 digs, 99 aces); Nicole Gross, 5-7 jr. OH (330 kills); Jenna Theisen, 5-6 jr. S (1,502 assists, 99 aces).
Finals forecast: In her first season as coach last fall – and only three after she played for Beal City in the Semifinals – David guided the Aggies to their first MHSAA championship match appearance. They moved to Class C this season but have remained in the mix with Schumacher an all-state first-team pick in 2012 and Schafer back after making the third team.

45-9, No. 8
Coach: Denise Uittenbogaard, eighth season (165-118-5)
League finish: First in River Valley Conference
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-0 over No. 1 Mendon, 3-1 over honorable mention Muskegon Western Michigan Christian, 3-1 over No. 2 Morley-Stanwood in the Regional Final, 3-0 over No. 4 Unionville-Sebewaing in the Quarterfinal.
Players to watch: Alyssa Scholten, 6-2 sr. MH (464 kills, 109 blocks); Shelby Lubbers, 5-10 sr. MH (306 kills, 370 digs); Cailey DeJong, 5-9 sr. S/OH (273 kills, 512 assists, 182 aces, 378 digs).
Finals forecast: The Chargers have won District titles three of the last four seasons under Uittenbogaard and claimed their first Regional title ever last week. Covenant Christian also has wins over most of the best in Class C according to the final coaches rankings, and got some additional prep for the tournament in losses to Class B semifinalist Grand Rapids South Christian and Class A honorable mention Grand Rapids Christian at the end of the regular season.

49-7-2, No. 1
Coach: Kathy Trenary, 20h season (721-297-115) 
League finish: First in St. Joseph Valley League
Championship game history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2001).
Best wins: 3-1, 3-0, 3-2 and 3-1 (District Final) over No. 6 Bronson, 3-2 over No. 7 Schoolcraft in the Quarterfinal, 2-1 over Class B honorable mention Berrien Springs.
Players to watch:  Brooke Howard, 5-10 sr. MH (546 kills, .379 hitting %, 443 digs), Loryn Baughman, 5-9 sr. S (1,137 assists); Jordan VanOss, 5-5 soph. OH (265 kills, .345 hitting %, 409 digs); Alexis Russell, 5-11 sr. MH (381 kills, .340 hitting %, 377 digs).  
Finals forecast: Make that 13 straight District titles for Mendon on the way to this second straight appearance in Battle Creek. Although the Hornets did graduate an all-state hitter last season, Howard and Russell both made the second team in 2012 and VanOss made the third – with Baughman setting them during last season’s run. They’ve seen their share of top teams from all four classes this season, with three losses to those playing this weekend – Temperance Bedford, Covenant Christian and Class D No. 1 Battle Creek St. Philip.

Class D

62-7-2, No. 1
Coach: Vicky Groat, 16th season (907-177-76) 
League finish: First in Southern Central Athletic Association
Championship game history: 18 MHSAA titles (most recent 2012), eight runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 3-0 over No. 5 Hillsdale Academy in the Quarterfinal, 3-0 over Class C No. 6 Bronson, 2-0 over Class B No. 5 Grand Rapids South Christian, 2-0 over Class B No. 1 Hudsonville, 2-0 over Class C No. 1 Mendon, 2-0 over Class C No. 7 Schoolcraft.
Players to watch: Sierra Hubbard-Neil, 5-9 sr. OH (850 kills, .470 hitting %, 481 digs, 115 aces); Emily Freybler, 5-7 sr. MH (280 kills, 292 digs); Emily Schaub, 5-8 jr. S (1,618 assists, 110 aces, 306 digs).
Finals forecast: Graduate Miss Volleyball plus two more all-staters? That’s just meant more business as usual for the Tigers, who have won the last seven Class D titles and again dominated this fall despite playing the best in the state regardless of class. Another championship and St. Philip will tie Marysville’s record of eight straight from 1997-2004. Hubbard-Neil has been a mainstay in the lineup and was a Miss Volleyball candidate this fall after making all-state the last three.

31-1-5, No. 9
Coach: Kim Bjork, eighth season (253-24-32) 
League finish: First in Skyline Conference
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 3-0 over No. 10 Stephenson in the Regional Final, 3-0 over Kingsford, 3-0 over Iron River West Iron County.
Players to watch: Lexi Gussert, 6-1 sr. MH (442 kills, .398 hitting %, 92 aces, 83 blocks); Maria Stankewicz, 5-5 soph. S (673 assists, 73 aces); Libby Shamion, 5-6 soph. OH (103 kills, 94 aces)
Finals forecast: The Trojans haven’t lost since their first tournament of the season and haven’t given up a set in 15 straight matches. Gussert, was an all-state second teamer last season and also should be a Miss Basketball candidate this winter and again one of the top golfers in the Upper Peninsula in the spring. Forest Park has won league and District titles every season under Bjork and missed the Quarterfinals only once, in 2009.

33-14-7, No. 6
Coach: Laurie Glass (865-278-98)
League finish: Second in Northwest Conference
Championship game history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 2006), five runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 3-1 over No. 4 Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in the Quarterfinal, 3-1 over Bear Lake in the Regional Semifinal, 3-2 over Class C honorable mention Traverse City St. Francis.
Players to watch: Noa Yaakoby, 5-9 sr. OH (423 kills, 242 digs); Caitlin Mckee, 5-5 sr. S (757 assists, 247 digs), Felicia Whittaker, 5-8 sr. MB (222 kills, 86 aces, 107 digs)
Finals forecast: Leland is back at the Finals for the first time since winning Class D in 2006 – the Comets beat St. Philip that winter and are the last team besides St Philip to win this class. Mckee earned an all-state honorable mention last season as Leland fell to St. Philip in a Quarterfinal. The Comets went 29-5-2 against Class C and D teams this fall.

40-5-6, No. 2
Coach: Stephanie Swearingen, fifth season (111-35-18) 
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League East
Championship game history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-0 over Class A No. 6 Northville, 2-1 over Class A honorable mention Holland West Ottawa, 2-0 over Class C honorable mention Boyne City.
Players to watch: Courtney Wightman, 5-11 soph. OH (503 kills, 63 blocks, 292 digs, 117 aces); Allison Samulon, 5-8 sr. OH (332 kills, 40 blocks); Kristina Krupiak, 5-7 sr. RS (163 kills, 36 blocks, 190 digs, 97 aces); Kali Bagley, 5-6 sr. S (1,026 assists, 107 aces)
Finals forecast: Our Lady returned to the Quarterfinals last season for the first time since 2001 and has taken the next step thanks in part to returning all-state honorable mention hitters Krupiak and Wightman. The Lakers have upped their win total every season under Swearingen, a former All-America in track and field at the University of Michigan who won an MHSAA high jump title at Okemos and also played volleyball at Oakland University.

PHOTO: Beal City senior Addie Schumacher (8) drives the ball during the Aggies' District match this month against Sanford Meridian. (Click to see more from

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.)