04-04-2019 Tri-City Area Sports

TRACKING A GOOD RUN… Coloma’s Kenny Crowder was front and center in the 100 meters Wednesday, March 27 as the Comets opened the varsity track and field season at home. At far right in the photo is fellow Comet Willie Young.



Press Box Player of the Week!

By John Oliphant

 This week’s Press Box Player of the Week is Watervliet’s Garrett Matthews. Garrett is a senior on the Watervliet baseball team, and recently pitched four shutout innings against neighboring rival Hartford. Along the way he struck out 10 batters with five of those swinging and missing on strike three. He walked one and gave up just one hit, the only ball hit out of the infield while he was pitching.

 A great start under any circumstances, but maybe the most impressive part is that it marks his comeback from a serious knee injury suffered during the football season. Coach Josh Tremblay says Garrett worked hard over the winter on core and upper-body strength training as well as rehabbing his knee after surgery. “Not a bad outing considering the circumstances,” commented the coach.

Garrett says, “Baseball is a game of many failures and the best thing you can do when you struggle is to be confident and show no emotion.”

His goals this season include improving on his earned-run average from last year and batting .470 or better in his senior season.

Asked about his thoughts when he’s got a batter in a two-strike situation, he said, “I have them exactly where I want them. I have three balls to give so I either like to get the batter to chase a curveball in the dirt or chase a high fastball.”

Garrett hopes to play baseball at college next year, where he plans to study business. Congratulations, Garrett!

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath


Coloma Comet Softball ready to start again, coming off of State Championship season

The Coloma Comet softball head coach Wendy Goodline knows that her team will have plenty of challenges ahead of them. Her team will be playing each game with a bull’s-eye on their back, as the defending State Championship team.

Coach Goodline will be starting in her 20th season as the head coach of the Coloma girls’ team, which has had a tremendously successful run under Wendy’s leadership.  The Comet coach has racked up a .722 winning percentage, with an overall record of 515-198-1, in her first 19 softball campaigns, according to the MHSAA records.

That is certainly a most impressive record, and even though last year her success culminated in the Comets’ first ever State Championship, Coach Goodline’s teams didn’t achieve those many successful seasons by accident.  It is a certainty that the Coloma team has been working hard in preparing to go as far as their work, effort, and talent will take them.

LEADING THE PACK… Coloma’s Cali Grenon pushes the ball past her two New Buffalo opponents Tuesday, March 26. Grenon scored the first goal of the game – and two more – as the Comets routed the Bison 8-0. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)


Last year Coloma finished with an overall record of 38-3, and 12-0 in the Lakeshore Division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.  Coach Goodline states that her first goal in the coming season will again focus first on winning their division.  The Comets biggest challenge most likely will come from within, as they are returning only five players from that championship team, and only four of those have a great deal of playing experience.

Coach Goodline says of her team, “Everyone is playing a new position. We do not have one player on the team who is playing the position they played in last year.  We will be very inexperienced at the varsity level, so we’ll just have to take it one step at a time.”

Coach Goodline does expect to get great leadership from her most experienced returning players. One of the players she will be expecting the most out of is Megan Koenigshof. Last year Koenigshof was the Comet shortstop, and batted leadoff.  She led the team in hitting, batting a sizzling .595. She crossed the plate 69 times, had 29 runs batted in, and swiped 38 bases. The Comet Coach will need more of the same this year; in addition, she will be the Comet pitcher and leadoff batter.

Sam Stewart, another Comet returning for her fourth season, will finally get her time to shine. She has had to play at third base waiting for her chance to play behind the plate, as the Comets lost their three time all state catcher to graduation.   Last year Sam had a great year, hitting .354, with three home runs, and 18 RBI.

Megan Neubecker, the Comet player for all seasons, is coming back for her junior season, and will be moving over from left field and taking over the center field duties.  Last year Megan carried a big bat for the Comets batting at a .375 clip, and scored 34 runs, hit nine doubles, and six home runs, in addition to knocking in 42 runs.  Even with those impressive numbers, her coach is expecting even bigger things from her on offense, as well as running the show as the quarterback of the outfield.

Hannah Mathis played first base last year but will be moving over to shortstop this year, a huge responsibility.  She hit .284 batting in the ninth spot, and was her first year as a slapping type batter.

The other two seniors coming back for their final season on the Comet softball diamond are Phoebe Browne and Nicole Swisher.  Phoebe was used last year mostly as a runner, but this year will be expected to play some at first base and in the outfield.  Nicole will be a backup pitcher and first baseman. She played on the JV squad last year.

Moving up from the junior varsity are juniors, Kelsey Ellis who will be playing at second base, and Mari Echols who will be in the outfield on defense.

Rounding out the Comet team are sophomores, Mia Cole who was injured last year and will be playing at third this year, Gracie Whitaker who will be in the outfield, and Taryn Blazier a utility player.  Taylor Brown, the only freshman, will see some time on the mound for the Comets, for both the varsity and junior varsity this year.

The Comets will begin their season following spring break, playing their first game at Buchanan, on Tuesday, April 9.  Fans are encouraged to attend and show their Coloma Comet Pride, supporting their defending state champs.  Be sure to check out the rest of their schedule on the Coloma Comet web site.

Comet Baseball suffers tough loss in first game of the season

The Coloma Comet baseball team had a tough opening loss at Dowagiac by a final score of 4-3. It was a pitcher’s duel throughout. Coloma had only three hits to Dowagiac’s six, and each team committed five errors.  Coloma took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, which held up until Dowagiac tied it in the fourth.  The Comets took a 2-1 lead in the fifth, only to have Dowagiac tie it again in the 6th.

Coloma plated a go ahead run in the seventh, but Dowagiac scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to take the win.  Hunter Crist started for Coloma and pitched five innings, giving up just a single run on two hits, and he struck out four and walked three.  Nick Eastman came in for the final two innings, and took the loss, giving up three runs.  All four of the Dowagiac runs were unearned resulting from the five Comet errors.

Game two was suspended due to darkness in the third inning with the Comets leading 6-5.

The Comets will be back in action on Saturday, April 6, playing at the Coldwater Invitational. They are scheduled to play three games. Then they travel to Buchanan for a doubleheader on Tuesday, April 9.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele


Finally, the Tri-City area was able to experience abundant sunshine and warmer temperatures! And with that, business picked up on the athletic fields for the student-athletes of Hartford last week. When all was said and done, Indian teams competed in a whopping 11 different games and meets, and plenty of excitement was abound over the upcoming spring sports season.

Hartford Baseball experiences rough patch to start season

The Hartford Indian Baseball team managed to take the field three times during “Opening Week”. The baseball team experienced bouts of success and dismay last season, and with a mixture of veterans and first-timers in the lineup this season, the team will need to mesh quickly. With games against non-conference foes Paw Paw and Watervliet on the schedule, they had an early opportunity to see where they were – and how much better they need to be in the future.

The Indians played their season, and home, opener on Monday, Mar. 25 against Paw Paw. Unfortunately, they were defeated soundly by the visiting Redskins, 11-0.

PLUNK! Hartford’s Trey Ackerman takes one off the upper arm, delivered courtesy of Watervliet’s Garret Matthews, during the first of two varsity baseball games Wednesday, March 27. Watervliet won the first game 3-2, while the second contest was suspended due to darkness with the score even up at four apiece. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)


Paw Paw scored four runs in the first inning to race out to a lead and they never looked back. Hartford struggled from an offensive standpoint, managing just one hit, while striking out eight times. Jack Westerhoff picked up the mound win for Paw Paw, while Trey Goodson suffered the loss for the Indians.

The Indians wrapped up their “Opening Week” by hosting rival Watervliet in a doubleheader on Wednesday, Mar. 27. As is typical with rivalry games, both games were very close from start-to-finish. In the end, Watervliet managed to score a 3-2 victory in game one, and game two was deadlocked in a 4-4 tie after four innings when the contest was called due to impending darkness.

In game one, Watervliet managed to jump out to a 3-0 lead through four-and-a-half innings, thanks to a run in the first inning and two in the fourth inning. However, the Indians managed a rally, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to cut the lead to just one. The Panthers managed to shut the door on the Indians before further damage could be done, sealing the victory. The Indians managed just two hits in the contest, and also committed two errors.

In game two, the teams played a seesaw affair, as neither team could manage to hold a lead. Watervliet jumped out on top, 2-0, after a half-inning, before Hartford cut the deficit to 2-1 with a run in the bottom of the first. The Indians took their first lead of the day when they plated two runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 3-2 lead. Not to be outdone, the visiting Panthers struck back with a pair of runs in the top of the third inning to regain the lead at 4-3, before the Indians got a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game. That concluded the scoring. Hartford scored all their runs on just one lone hit.

After three games, Hartford is 0-2-1 on the season, and has yet to play any conference games. With spring break on tap, the Indians and will not return to action until the week of April 8. During that week, they will play in a doubleheader at River Valley on Thursday, Apr. 11, before traveling to Marshall to compete in Sports Festival 2019 on Saturday, Apr. 13.

Hartford Softball manages 2-2 record during Opening Week

The Hartford Indian Varsity Softball team also made their 2019 spring debut last week, as the team played in a pair of doubleheaders to start their season. This season has high expectations attached to it, as just four seniors make up the roster and a new wave of talented ladies make their names heard. With non-conference opponents Comstock and Buchanan on the docket, they would get an early test to see where they stand, and give everyone a chance to see game action.

The Lady Indians started their 2019 season on Tuesday, Mar. 26, when they hosted Comstock for a non-conference doubleheader. Hartford was successful in sweeping the Lady Colts out of town, winning by scores of 6-0 and 11-1.

In game one, Hartford scored a single run in the bottom of the first inning to take the early 1-0 lead. They managed just two more runs over the next four innings, taking a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. It was there that they blew the game open, scoring three runs on three run-scoring hits to double their lead to the final score of 6-0.

Lainey Goodson pitched four solid innings to record the mound victory, while Karly Manning finished the game off and recorded the save. The Lady Indians managed nine hits, led by Alexis Griffith and Vanessa DeLaRosa, who each recorded two hits. On defense, Hartford did not commit any errors and held Comstock to just five hits.

In game two, Hartford scored early and often, scoring in just about every inning in this victory. They managed to put up 11 runs on 12 hits, and took care of the Colts via the mercy rule in the bottom of the fifth inning. This was another great team victory to begin the season.

Lainey Goodson earned her second victory of the afternoon, tossing three innings of one-hit softball, while striking out three. Karly Manning earned her second save of the day by tossing the final two innings and recorded the final six outs. Five Lady Indians picked up multiple hits in this game, including Goodson, Jaelyne Galvan, Megan Nelson, Vanessa DeLaRosa and Ariah Jordan. Defensively, the ladies managed to play error-free softball for the second straight game.

The Lady Indians wrapped up the week by traveling to Buchanan one day later, on Wednesday, Mar. 27 for another doubleheader. This time, things did not go as planned for the green and white, as they suffered a pair of defeats at the hands of the host Lady Bucks. Hartford lost a close 6-5 game in the first matchup, before falling 6-1 in the nightcap.

After four games, Hartford sits at 2-2 on the season, with the team not playing in any conference games to date. The team is off this week, and will not return to action until the week of April 8. During that week, they will host Watervliet for a doubleheader on Tuesday, Apr. 9, before traveling to River Valley to take on the Mustangs on Thursday, Apr. 11, in another doubleheader. They finish the week with a trip to Dowagiac on Saturday, Apr. 13, to compete in the Chieftain Invitational.

Hartford Girls Soccer opens season with 1-1 record

The Hartford Indian Girls Soccer team saw their season begin in concert with other sports last week, and it was a busy week at that. The ladies competed in two soccer matches during the week, and they hoped the competition would bring them good results. The program, the newest addition to the spring sports scene in Hartford over the past few years, has seen the program grow in numbers and get better over time. This season has expectations to be the best one to date.

The ladies began their season by hosting non-conference opponent Lake Michigan Catholic on Tuesday, Mar. 26. Unfortunately, the first match of the season brought defeat for Hartford, as they fell to the Lady Lakers, 2-1. The match was tied at halftime, nil-nil, but it was Lake Michigan Catholic that got the key goals in the second half to win this tight affair. Hartford managed to put four shots on goal, and received a stellar performance by goalkeeper Mary Pultz, who recorded a 14-save effort in the loss.

The ladies finished their first week of play two days later, when they traveled to Niles on Thursday, Mar. 28, to take on Brandywine. After scoring just one goal in their first match, the Lady Indians let it fly, and it resulted in goal, after goal, after goal. Hartford managed to dominate from start-to-finish, taking a 6-nil lead into halftime, and after scoring one goal in the second half, they finished off the Lady Bobcats, winning the match by a 7-0 score.

Hartford scored their seven goals on a total of just ten shots, meaning they scored on 70 percent of their scoring chances. In all, four ladies scored goals in the match. Abigail Lopez picked up a “hat trick”, scoring a team-high three goals, while Mercedes Requenes scored two goals and Jessica Huaracha and Brianna Morseau scored a goal each. Mary Pultz and Sarai Garcia combined for the shut out in net, with Pultz making four saves and Garcia making five.

After two matches, Hartford sits at 1-1 on the young season, and has not played any conference matches to date. Like all other Hartford sports, they will take a breather for spring break, and will not return to action until the week of April 8. When they return from hiatus, they will only have one match that week, a home match against Coloma on Wednesday, Apr. 10.

Hartford track teams take home opening meet victories

The Hartford Indian Track teams took to the track for their first meet of the season against Lawrence on Wednesday, Mar. 27. Both teams had a mixture of good meets and bad meets last season. But, with every new season, it always brings optimism about programs that have experienced many successful years in the past. This season is no exception, and early looks indicate there might be some good things on the horizon for both programs.

In their meet against Lawrence, both teams were victorious. The boys’ team picked up a 55-52 victory, led by Riley Traver, who picked up four individual event victories and set a blistering time of 11.42 seconds in the 100-meter dash. Another standout performance came from Carter Gendron, who set a new personal-best in the pole vault, vaulting 10’6” to win the event. The ladies also scored a victory over Lawrence.

After scoring victories in their first meet of the season, both teams sit at 1-0 on the year and have not competed against any conference competition to date.

After taking a hiatus for spring break, they will compete twice during the week of April 8. On Wednesday, Apr. 10, they will compete in a Southwest 10 Conference triangular meet at Cassopolis against the host Rangers and White Pigeon, before hosting their annual Freshman/Sophomore Invitational on Saturday, Apr. 13.

As always, GO INDIANS!

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant


Panther Baseball beats and ties Hartford

The Panthers opened the baseball season with a trip to Hartford on Wednesday, March 27. This trip, like most other baseball games, was scheduled as a 5-inning doubleheader. The early-season challenge is dry fields and darkness, and so far the fields are in good shape and the weather is cooperating.

The first game turned into a pitching duel with both teams starting their aces, Garrett Matthews for Watervliet and Aaron Sinclair for the Indians. Both pitched well, but the Panthers offense was just a little better and they won the game 3-2.

Freshman Andrew Chisek was the first batter of the game and sent his second high school pitch into left field for a double. He then scored the first run of the season two pitches later when Dylan Lawson put his second-ever varsity pitch in play on the infield.

Matthews earned the win, pitching four innings while allowing one hit and no runs, striking out ten and walking one. Tommy Swanson threw one inning in relief. Each pitcher gave up one hit.

Sinclair took the loss for Hartford, going five innings and allowing three runs on three hits and striking out 11. Eric Kehrer, Jordan Angelo, and Chisek had hits for the Panthers, and Evan Hutchins had their only RBI.

The second game of the evening featured one hit and a 4-4 tie due to an early end for darkness. All but one run was related to wild pitches, passed balls, and an error. Andrew Chisek pitched three strong innings for the Panthers, collecting three strikeouts and giving up no earned runs. Tommy Swanson pitched one inning with two strikeouts. Dylan Lawson collected the only RBI for the Panthers, who scored their four runs without the benefit of a hit.

Their next game is at home on April 11 when they host Martin in the first conference matchup of the season. On April 13 they face Brandywine at Bethel College.

Panther Softball

The Panther softball team also opened their season on April 27 when they hosted Bridgman for a pair of games. They fell behind in the first one early and couldn’t come back in a 13-4 loss. The Panthers struggled to contain the high-powered Bridgman offense, finding themselves down 10-0 before the bats came alive, scoring three in the bottom of the 6th inning.

FIRST… Watervliet first baseman Addison Riley protects the ball and steps on the bag Wednesday, March 27 for the out as the Panthers faced off against Bridgman. Riley scored the first two outs of the first inning. Watervliet split the doubleheader, losing 13-4 in the first game but coming back to win game two 9-7. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)


The Bees’ McNeil pitched well, earning the win and going seven innings, allowing four runs on five hits and striking out ten Panthers. Celina Klimkiewicz took the loss for Watervliet. She went seven innings, allowing 13 runs on 12 hits, striking out five and walking one.

Sabrina Klimkiewicz, Celina Klimkiewicz, Emalie Gitersonke, Serena Reyna, and Addison Riley collected one hit each. Riley’s hit was a two-RBI triple, her first hit as a high school player.

The second game went much better for the Panthers. Despite having a five-run lead whittled down by the end, they still held off the Bees to take a 9-7 win to split the doubleheader.

The Panthers collected 10 hits to Bridgman’s 14. Watervliet got things moving in the second inning when Serena Reyna singled, driving in a run. In the fourth inning Natalie Knight doubled in two runs as the Panthers pulled away for good. Watervliet also scored three runs in the sixth inning as Hannah Hart and Addison Riley all moved runners across the plate with RBIs in the inning.

Hart earned her first varsity win in her high school debut, striking out four and walking just one. Knight, Gitersonke, and Worley each collected two hits in the game. Gitersonke, Sabrina Klimkiewicz, and Knight had doubles, and Worley hit a triple.

Their next game is a double-header at Hartford on Tuesday, April 9.

Panther Soccer hosts Berrien Springs and Covert

The Panther girls’ soccer team also opened their season last week, hosting Berrien Springs on Tuesday, March 26, and losing 2-0. Watervliet dominated the offensive end of the game but could not find the back of the net, despite outshooting the Shamrocks 25-7. The Watervliet defense was strong as Trinity Crain, Susanna Van Lente, Katherine Schmidt and Aria Richards kept the Shamrocks away from the goal most of the game. Alex Hays also played well in goal.

On Wednesday, March 27 the girls took on the Covert Bulldogs, winning 5-0. The Panthers dominated the game from start to finish, with Emma Kraklau leading the way and scoring two goals. Also scoring goals were Emma Armstrong, Elena Alvarado, and Victoria Smith who also added two assists.

Defensive players Trinity Crain, Katherine Schmidt, Aria Richards, Alyssa Lange and Abbi Roberts played outstanding while limiting Covert’s attacks on the home goal. Alex Hays and Tony Isbrecht shared goalie duties for the shutout.

Coach Dave Armstrong said first-year players Erica Nykamp and Jada Prignano played a great game.

Their next game is Tuesday, April 9 at Cassopolis.

Hartford Athletic Director recognized nationally

By Jon Bisnett

Hartford Public Schools is pleased to announce that Athletic Director Nick Blackmer has been recognized by The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) as a Certified Athletic Administrator.

 The NIAAA is a national professional organization consisting of all 50 state athletic administrator associations and more than 10,000 individual members, dedicated to promoting the professional growth of high school athletic administrators and preserving the educational nature of interscholastic athletics and the place of these programs in the secondary school curriculum.

 In the process of earning the certification, Blackmer demonstrated an exceptional level of knowledge and expertise in interscholastic athletic administration. The voluntary certification process includes a full evaluation of the candidate’s educational background, experience and professional contributions, in addition to a rigorous, comprehensive written examination. Blackmer joins an elite group of interscholastic athletic administrators nationwide who have attained this level of professional recognition.

Nick first came to Hartford during his student teaching while attending Western Michigan University. He then returned to serve as science teacher since 2005, during which time he coached varsity baseball. Eventually he focused his efforts on a newly formed men’s varsity soccer program in 2007, building the team into a perennial championship contender. A women’s program followed in 2013.

Blacker now enters his third year as Athletic Director and during his tenure has been instrumental is expanding athletic opportunities across the board in addition to developing protocols to provide added safety to all athletes. He gained his master’s degree in educational technology in 2008.

Nick and his wife Lindsay, also a teacher, have two children; a 7-year-old in second grade at Redwood Elementary with a 2-year-old future Indian waiting in the wings.

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