Division 4 State Softball Scouting Reports

Here’s some details on the state softball tournament:

Division 4 semifinals – Friday
Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart vs. Ottawa Lake Whiteford, 3 p.m.
Unionville-Sebewaing vs. Pickford, 5:30 p.m.

FINALS – Saturday
Division 1 – 10 a.m.
Division 2 – 12:30 p.m.
Division 3 – 3 p.m.
Division 4 – 5:30 p.m.

Here’s a look at the scouting reports from the four remaining Division 4 softball teams.

Division 4

Record/rank: 27-11, unranked
Coach: Josh Wheaton, fifth season (86-47)
League finish: First in Mid-State Activities Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Laura Goenner, sr. OF (.436, 51 R, 40 RBI, 24 SB); Kelsey McDonald, sr. 2B (.449, 49 R, 27 SB); Ellery Garver, fr. 1B (.630, 37 R, 12 2B, 33 RBI, 18 SB); Nyah Carson, fr. P/OF (.447, 29 R, 39 RBI).
Outlook: Sacred Heart is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since 2012, with a Regional win over No. 7 Portland St. Patrick among highlights from the tournament run. The Irish have won nine straight since suffering a 10-0 regular-season loss to St. Patrick. Goenner made the all-state first team last season, and McDonald earned an honorable mention. Senior Natalie Jones (14-2 pitching, 2.88 ERA, 135 K/102 IP) will throw for Sacred Heart, and she’s also part of a hitting lineup with all batters averaging at least .303. Senior Anna Terwilliger (.375, 34 R, 10 2B, 33 RBI, 12 SB) is another major run producer, with junior Eliza Pieratt (.370), freshman Kallie Smith (.315), Jones (.314) and senior Emma Yonker (.303) rounding out the lineup.

Record/rank: 39-4, No. 2
Coach: Matt VanBrandt, third season (71-9)
League finish: First in Tri-County Conference
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 1987), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Alyssa VanBrandt, jr. SS (.692, 68 R, 12 2B, 43 RBI, 27 SB); Unity Nelson, soph. P/2B (.417, 46 RBI, 20-3 pitching, 0.36 ERA, 239 K/116 IP); Ambrelle Billau, sr. 3B (.490, 62 R, 10 2B, 50 RBI, 14 SB); Berlynn Keller, sr. P/2B (.441, 11 2B, 50 RBI, 17-0 pitching, 1.13 ERA, 145 K/87 IP).
Outlook: Whiteford is a combined 71-9 over VanBrandt’s two seasons and is returning to the Semifinals for the first time since finishing Division 4 runner-up in 2017 and after reaching the final week of the season for the fourth time in six seasons (not counting canceled 2020). VanBrandt, Nelson, Billau and Keller all made the all-state first team last spring. Senior Adrianna VanBrandt is hitting .516 with 44 runs scored and 16 stolen bases, and junior Patrina Marsh (.391, 37 R, 11 SB) and sophomores Karlei Conrad (.359), Jillian Webb (.339) and Kaydence Sheldon (.300) round out the hitting lineup.

Record/rank: 24-14-2, unranked
Coach: Matt Hudecek, second season (42-22-2)
League finish: Second in Straits Area Conference
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Lucy Bennin, sr. UTY (.530, 64 R, 12 2B, 47 RBI); Laura Bush, soph. P/1B (.441, 41 R, 41 RBI, 8-4 pitching); Chloe May, soph. SS (.396, 62 R, 12 2B, 39 RBI); Lizzie Storey, sr. OF (.365, 42 R, 35 RBI). (Statistics include Quarterfinal.)
Outlook: Pickford is making its first trip to the Semifinals after winning its first Regional title in this sport. The Panthers advanced by defeating honorable mention Norway in the Regional Final and No. 8 Hillman in the Quarterfinal. Pickford is averaging 10.6 runs per game and has scored in double digits four of five playoff games. Six sophomores and five seniors make up the bulk of the roster, with two juniors, and sophomore Finley Hudecek (14-9, 105 K/149 IP) will be in the circle for the Semifinal. Senior Morgan Fox (.359), junior Madison Thurmes (.309) and Hudecek (.306) also are among the team’s top-hitting regulars.

Record/rank: 29-9, No. 1
Coach: Isaiah Gainforth, sixth season (163-39)
League finish: First in Greater Thumb Conference West
Championship history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2021), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Laci Harris, sr. P/3B (.489, 61 R, 19 2B, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 18-5 pitching, 1.29 ERA, 212 K/130 IP), Macy Reinhardt, sr. 2B (.434, 48 R, 13 2B, 38 RBI); Gabriella Crumm, soph. C (.556, 57 R, 20 2B, 11 HR, 50 RBI); Ella Neumann, soph. SS (.476, 40 R, 17 2B, 44 RBI, 15 SB).
Outlook: USA has won four of the last six Division 4 championships including the last two, and this year’s Patriots are plenty tested with all nine losses to ranked teams in Divisions 2 and 3 including two (Garber and Millington) playing for championships this weekend. USA defeated No. 4 Riverview Gabriel Richard in the Quarterfinal. Reinhardt and Harris made the all-state first team last season, and Crumm earned an honorable mention. Sophomores Jenna Gremel (.441, 43 R, 45 RBI) and Rylie Betson (.407, 42 R, 10 2B, 35 RBI), and juniors Olivia Jubar (.389 46 R, 17 2B, 41 RBI), Kennedy Schember (.344, 41 R, 10 2B) and Lauren Green (.340, 32 R) round out a lineup averaging 11.1 runs per game.

  • By Geoff Kimmerly, MHSAA.com/Second Half

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