Softball coach reflects on team's season, which ended on a 5-1 defeat to Coloma in state semifinals. Ted Kulfan
East Lansing — She isn’t big or powerful, but Coloma leadoff hitter Megan Koeningshof is blessed with speed.
And that speed can be a deciding factor, as it was Friday for Coloma in the Division 3 state semifinals.
No. 2-ranked Coloma defeated No. 2 Clinton, 5-1, with Koeningshof scoring three times — she had a hit and walked twice — while keeping Clinton at bay defensively.
“She’s speedy, she plays with people's minds a little bit,” Coloma coach Wendy Goodline said. “They have to rush. They’re worried about her, because she can turn a bloop single into a double.
“She causes havoc out there.”
That was evident in the first inning. Koeningshof walked to start the game, then raced all the way from first to third base — never really slowing — on Kayla Yore’s sacrifice bunt.
Koeningshof said a sacrifice bunt was called by Goodline.
“So, I knew if nobody was covering, I’m there (on third base),” Koeningshof said. “We need to get scores, score first.”
Koeningshof sped home on Morgan Wagner’s grounder, giving Coloma the quick lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“We came out and tried to stay off anything high and hit belt pitches,” Goodline said. “A couple people came through with big hits and Jaidyn (Hutsell) pitched real well.”
The approach for the Comets was the same Friday as it has been all season.
“Hit the pitches that are there for us to hit and play defense,” Goodline said.
Seven different Coloma hitters had a hit, Yore had three RBIs, and Hutsell allowed four hits over seven innings as the Comets (37-3) reached the championship for the first time in school history.
Clinton (37-2) saw its season come to a disappointing end, being held to four hits and never getting any sustained offense the entire afternoon.
“Just lack of offense,” coach Kim Phillip said. “His (umpire’s) strike zone was large and there were pitches that they are trained to stay off and they had to swing at today. You swing at those balls and you don’t hit the ball wholly.
“They (Coloma) were a lot more aggressive. They were swinging at bad pitches too, but they were able to put the bat on the ball, be pesty, and were able to shorten their swings up and it benefitted them.”
Millington catcher Sydney Bishop talking about her school reaching the state finals for the first time Ted Kulfan
More Division 3
Millington 5, Sanford-Meridian 3: Sydney Bishop had three hits and drove in two runs, and Millington held off a late rally, in advancing to play Coloma Saturday in the state championship at Michigan State.
No. 1-ranked Millington (39-2) had 12 hits and left 11 runners on base — at least one in every inning.
“The rankings don’t mean anything to us,” coach Greg Hudie said. “Our schedule is set up to play the top-ranked teams. We were chasing competition just to get ready for this.”
Darrien Roberts added two hits and scored twice, and Hannah Rabideau and Sabrina Gates each had two hits.
This will be Millington’s first state championship appearance.
“You can see how many fans came down to watch us down here, it’s very cool, I’m glad for the community and the girls,” Hudie said. “Memories they’ll never forget.”
Peyton Grice had three hits for Sanford-Meridian (27-15), which scored twice in the seventh inning and had two runners aboard with one out, before falling short.
“They had more quality at-bats than we did,” Mustangs coach Jamie Smith said. “We gave up three runs the one inning, and you can’t do that. We’ll be back. We’re only losing two starting seniors, one other senior, and we’re loaded with nine juniors.
“There are holes to fill, but if we work hard we should be back.”
Coleman 2, Rogers City 0: Senior Autumn Tubbs lined a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning for the only runs in the game.
Senior Faith Barden pitched a three-hit shutout, walking two and striking out 11.
“It felt like it was there all day,” Coleman coach Chad Klopf said. “We just needed to find a hole and we finally came through, and it was our veteran hitters and seniors getting things done for us.”
The senior-dominated Comets have won more than 100 games over the last three years — but have yet to win a state championship.
“It feels good to be going farther than we did last year (semifinals) in my senior year,” Tubbs said. “We get to play one more game together as a team. It feels real special.”
Softball semifinals results
All semifinals and finals at Michigan State
Final: Saturday, 10 a.m.
Escanaba 2, Eaton Rapids 0
Final: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Millington 5, Sanford-Meridian Early College 3
Coloma 5, Clinton 1
Final: Saturday, 3 p.m.
Coleman 2, Rogers City 0
Centreville 4, Unionville-Sebewaing 0
Final: Saturday, 5:30 p.m.