Detroit News top 10 prep softball players
Meghan Beaubien of Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central was nothing short of perfect in last season’s biggest games, , tossing a pair of perfect games in the Division 3 state semifinal and championship games at Michigan State.
Beaubien was dominant, striking out 28 in 12 innings of work to improve to 25-1 with a 0.38 earned-run average.
Beaubien is the top player in the state, being offered by Michigan coach Carol Hutchins during her freshman year, and then showing why by leading Monroe St. Mary to consecutive state titles.
Hutchins watched Beaubien in the regional tournament last season, clocking her at 68 mph, which is comparable to 100 mph fastball in baseball.
“I’ve known Meghan since she was 12 years old, gave her hitting lessons and she’s a very disciplined kid who works very, very hard,” Monroe St. Mary coach John Morningstar said. “She’s a very intelligent kid who really understands the game very well. She understood the game as well as any adult I ever spoke to and at a young age.
“We sat at a Mud Hens suite when she was 12 and watched the baseball game together and I felt like I was talking to a 35, 40-year-old man, talking the game and strategy and everything. She’s the valedictorian of her class, a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Michigan, and last year she won the national championship at the highest level of travel ball (Chicago-based Beverly Bandits). She’s the total package.”
Beaubien has a 4.71 grade-point-average and plans to study medicine at Michigan, hoping to one day be a doctor, specializing in pediatrics. Meanwhile, she is focused on helping Monroe St. Mary win a third straight state title.
“This year the goal is to win another state championship for our whole team, and as a senior my personal goal is not just my performance, but being the best leader I can for the less experienced players on the team,” Beaubien said.
So, where has she improved the most in past years?
“I think a lot of my pitches have just improved in general, like my riseball has just gotten a lot better spin on them and I’m throwing it harder and I’m more precise with that as well,” Beaubien said. “I think I just became more physically strong while I’m pitching and more mentally strong in terms of confidence and how I react to mistakes.”
And, why Michigan?
“I’ve always been a Michigan fan, my parents were Michigan fans and then the softball program is fantastic and Coach Hutch is amazing and all of their coaches are great,” Beaubien said. “I felt really comfortable with them and the program is great and academics are really important to me and Michigan is a great school for that as well so it really just fit everything I was looking for.
“It was so far off when I accepted the offer and now when I go to games, I think ‘That’s going to be me’ and I get so excited. It’s something that I’ve dreamed of forever and I committed my freshman year and it was so far off back then, but now it’s like reality.”
2. Kendahl Dunford, Sr., P, Macomb Dakota: Dunford was a first-team all-state pitcher last year, helping Dakota reach the Division 1 state championship game. She had thrown five straight shutouts in postseason play before a 4-2 semifinal victory over Midland. Dakota lost the title game to Farmington Hills Mercy.
Dunford finished the season with a 35-3 record with a 1.35 ERA and more than 220 strikeouts. She also hit .345 at the plate with seven homers and 37 RBI.
3. Paige Blevins, Jr., SS-3B, Clarkston: Blevins, a Central Michigan commit, hit .513 with 11 homers and 56 RBI to help Clarkston to a 29-10 record.
“Paige has great extra base power and is a clutch hitter,” Coach Don Peters said. “She hit 11 homers for us last year. She knows what she is looking for, and on defense she has a really, really soft hands and a strong arm.”
4. Sophie Van Acker, Sr., CF, Farmington Hills Mercy: Van Acker helped Mercy win the Division 1 state championship last year, hitting .532 with 82 hits and 57 runs scored, getting an RBI triple in the opening inning to start the momentum in a 4-0 state title game win over Macomb Dakota.
“I feel she’s one of top outfielders in the state,” Coach Alec Lesko said. “She has a career batting average over .500 and she’ll be our leadoff hitter this year.”
Van Acker will play next year at Lehigh.
5. Courtney Callahan, Jr., OF, Walled Lake Northern: Callahan showed her power last season when she hit .579 with 10 homers among her 73 hits, stealing 39 bases while knocking in 49 runs. The left-handed hitting center fielder hit three homers in a doubleheader with Lakeland.
6. Micaela Gleason, Sr., P, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep: Gleason was 28-3 last season with a 0.97 ERA, striking out 261 while walking 51 to help Notre Dame Prep reach the Catholic League final.
“She has not only been terrific in the circle, she has been one of our leading hitters,” said Coach Betty Wroubel of Gleason who has hit .373 for her career.
7. Hannah Bunker, Sr., INF., Walled Lake Northern: Bunker hit .461 with a great eye (32 walks) and displaying outstanding speed (31 stolen bases) after hitting .548 with 59 runs scored as a sophomore.
Bunker played her club ball at Finesse and will play next year at UMass.
8. Veronica Pezzoni, Sr., 2B, Howell: Pezzoni set single-season school-records for batting (.550) and triples (seven) last season from the leadoff spot while stealing 38 bases and scoring 58 runs to help Howell to a 30-11 record, averaging 9.2 runs a game.
Pezzoni entered her senior season with 75 consecutive stolen bases, trying to become the state’s first ever player to steal 100 straight bases.
9. Corbin Hison, Jr., SS, Macomb Dakota: Hison played a major role in helping Dakota reach the Division 1 state championship game, hitting .433 from the leadoff spot and scoring 42 runs while knocking in 36.
Hison is a Canisius commit.
10. Kenna Garst, Jr., C, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central: Garst, an Eastern Michigan commit, showed great power and great speed last season to help Monroe St. Mary win the Division 3 state title.
Garst hit .394 with eight homers and 40 RBIs, including a 3-for-4 performance in a state semifinal win with three RBIs, cracking a pair of triples.