04-06-2017 Tri-City Area Sports

Coloma Soccer scores shutout of New Buffalo

 The Coloma girls’ varsity soccer squad recorded a win in their first outing of the 2017 season, netting an 8-0 shutout of New Buffalo on Tuesday, March 28.

Katelyn Johnson scored three goals – two unassisted – during the non-conference road game.  Alyssa Bahr kicked two goals. Kathryn Pawluk, Grace Gagliardo and Emma Vandermolen scored one goal each.

Gagliardo recorded two assists during the contest. Vandermolen, Emily Bolis and Pawluk were credited with one assist each.

Emma Watson, in as keeper for the Comets, recorded a clean sheet with one save.

Coloma head coach Rick Redman’s squad outshot the Bison 26-1.

The Comets return to the field on April 10 at Edwardsburg. The team will play at home on April 12 against Fennville.

ON POINT… Emma Kraklau, a sophomore on the Watervliet girls’ varsity soccer team, kicks the ball last week during a scrimmage against the JV team. Watervliet was scheduled to open their season with a road game at Covert, but the contest was cancelled due to a flooded field. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Watervliet Soccer seeks balance between youth and experience

 Head coach Dave Armstrong will helm the girls’ varsity soccer program at Watervliet this year. He previously coached soccer at Watervliet Middle School and also in club programs.  He also has two daughters who have and are invested in the program. His daughter Hannah was a four-year captain and All-Conference and All-District award winner. She graduated last year after being a four-year starter and now plays soccer at St. Joseph’s College in Indiana.

“I have worked with past Watervliet coaches Carlos Aguialo and Chad Sheel. Watching and learning from others has been a big help. I have enjoyed watching soccer at all levels and think it is a very strategic game.  I have coached many other sports, but soccer is totally different with the skills that have to be taught,” Armstrong explained.

Armstrong shared that he accepted the varsity coaching position because of his familiarity with the sport, the players and their parents from past years in soccer and as the principal of Watervliet Middle School.

Armstrong will have a bench deep with both tried and true experienced players and undiscovered talent. The squad only graduated three seniors, with Hannah Armstrong and Brittany Collins as the team’s only four-year starters.

“We have 23 players out for the team this year,” Armstrong shared. “Experience and youth is the strength of this team. The young players have played a lot of soccer but not against older players.”

Two players expected to make an immediate impact are senior Casie Gohr and sophomore Victoria Smith. Both were Honorable Mention All-Conference award winners last year.

“Sophomores Emma Kraklau, Trinity Crain, and Emma Armstrong were all key contributors last year and will see significant playing time this year,” Armstrong noted.

The team returns five letter winners to this year’s squad: seniors Leslie Cortes, Marina Valdes, Taylor Zehner; junior Arianna Dolge; and sophomore Katherine Schmidt.

Joining the team are: senior Ashley Edgerly; sophomores Avalon Cramer, Caley Simmons, Briceida Mandujano, Soledad Alvarado, and Daisy Montejano; and freshmen Susanna VanLente and Elena Alvarado. Sophomore Bayan Saierjiang is another newcomer to the team; she is a foreign exchange student at the high school.

Armstrong has a plan for this season, as does his team. “I am hoping to improve the offense by using a more balanced passing game. Teamwork will be the key to a successful season. Defensively we hope to improve our communication between goalie and the defense.

“Our goals this year include a six-win season and being competitive with Kalamazoo Christian, Kalamazoo Hackett, and Lawton.”

The team won’t get the chance to celebrate their home opener until May 1 against Schoolcraft. “The girls will be road warriors this year during April as the football field is under construction,” Armstrong commented.

The first game of the season was scheduled for Tuesday, March 28 at Covert but was cancelled due to a flooded field.

The Lady Panthers will the hit road beginning April 11 at Cassopolis. They then play at Kalamazoo Christian and Berrien Springs before meeting up against Coloma on April 26.

BCAM selects Coloma’s Goodline and Hartford’s Austin to Best and Honorable Mention teams

 The Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan published their “Best” list of varsity basketball players in the state.

Coloma sophomore Zach Goodline was named to the BCAM’s Best in Class B basketball. He was one of two sophomores to receive the honor; the complete list included 21 young men.

Goodline was also second in the state for top individual free throws. He hit 154 of 180 attempts for an 85.556%.

Hartford senior Austin Nelson was named to BCAM’s Honorable Mention list.

Watervliet hoops stars win awards

 Watervliet celebrated their basketball stars Thursday, March 23 at their post-season awards banquet.

The boys’ varsity team, coached by Chris Prom in his first year at the varsity level, handed the Most Valuable Player award to Sheldon Tobar.

Most Improved Player on the 2017 squad was Mark Myers. Bryant Kieft was given the Best Defensive Player award.

As previously reported Dan Cluster earned First Team All-Division honors. Tobar and Kieft received Honorable Mention All-Division nods.

The girls’ varsity basketball team won the Southwestern Athletic Conference – Lakeshore Division title this year under the tutelage of Jason Forrester in his first year as head coach.

Logan Mizwicki was named the team’s MVP. Ariana Rowe and Kara Liles were co-MIPs.  Casie Gohr scored the team’s Best Defender award. Maggie Lynch was named Best Teammate.

The Effort Award went to Jade Miller. Katie Schultz earned the Sharp Shooter award. According to Forrester, Schultz broke the school record in career 3-pointers and had the best 3-pointer and free throw percentages on the team. Mikayla Lee, who never missed a practice or game in her high school career, was named Most Dedicated Panther.

The special Panther Pride award, which is earned by anyone who played basketball from seventh grade through their senior year, was bestowed upon Gohr, Lee, Miller, Mizwicki, and Schultz.

Schultz and Mizwicki won First Team All-Division awards. Gohr, Jaelyn Pitre, and Zoe Smith were named to the Honorable Mention All-Division team.

Hartford relying on senior pitchers for successful season

 In his second year as head coach of the Hartford Indians baseball team, Danny Brininstool is facing some challenges. Last year’s team went 19-12 and had a pretty successful season, although they “fell short of our goal of winning a district title,” Brininstool said.

This year the squad will have to compensate for losing a whopping 10 seniors who graduated. “We will rely heavily on that returning familiarity as we look to replace the large group of outgoing seniors,” Brininstool commented.

That means the four returning seniors of Hunter Ackerman, Jake Griffith, Mike Boyd, and Berto Ibarra-Victoria will be depended upon to lead the team.

“Ackerman returns as last year’s Defensive MVP and will (be) looked to for another strong season defensively as our anchor at (shortstop) while also being our leadoff hitter to get our offense going.”

Also returning to the Indians is junior Luke Manning. Newcomers include juniors Logan Goble, Garrod Johnson, Nick McGlothlin, Jared Henslee, Adam Wheeler, and Buddy Earls.

“We have a number of players that will help with the pitching workload this year, while relying most heavily on Ackerman and Griffith, while also expecting to get heavy contributions from Manning and Johnson,” shared Brininstool.

Joining Ackerman in the infield will be Manning, Johnson, and Goble. Outfield duties will be shared by Boyd, Earls, Ibarra-Victoria, Henslee and McGlothlin.

Griffith and Wheeler can play either outfield and infield and the role of catcher.

Brininstool knows that the season will have its ups and downs, but he’s confident in his squad and their ability to play for wins. “We have a highly competitive conference that had five different teams win their district last year,” he said. “Therefore, we will play a tough schedule and it will be a challenge throughout the season, but we look forward to competing every game.” He expects his team to hit their stride “as we head into districts this year where we expect to be in a position to challenge for a district title.”

Brininstool is pleased with his team’s cohesiveness. “This is an extremely close unit of players that work very hard and enjoy being around one another. They make coaching enjoyable as they are always working to improve and get better. They have fun playing the game of baseball and that’s the best compliment I could give them.”

The Indians were on the road in Gobles on Wednesday, March 29 for a doubleheader and lost contests, 6-5 and 1-0.

In the early game, Hartford tied the game up at 3-3 in the third and took the lead 4-3 in the fifth. Both teams scored a run in the sixth inning, but Gobles won the game with one run in the seventh.

Hartford’s five runs came off six hits. The team had five errors.

Griffith had three hits and two RBIs. Johnson and Wheeler scored two runs apiece. Ackerman was on the mound for Hartford and allowed two earned runs on seven hits.

In the late game, Luke Manning had a strong outing for Hartford from the mound. He struck out six batters and allowed only two hits and one run.

WITH ROOM TO SPARE… Coloma’s Samantha Scott sails over the bar Wednesday, March 29 in the high jump. Scott cleared 4’ 8” and finished third in the event. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Coloma splits with Dowagiac

 Coloma boys’ varsity baseball team traveled to Dowagiac Tuesday, March 28 and split the two-game bill.

The Comets won the first contest with a 4-0 shutout. Coloma scored three runs in the third and added one more for insurance in the fifth. Their four runs came off four hits.

Calvin Starnes took the mound for Coloma and picked up the win. He pitched seven innings, allowed two hits, fanned 12 batters, and walked two.

Mathew Kelley and Danny Najacht led Coloma at the plate with one RBI apiece.

Coloma lost the second game 2-1. For the first four innings of the game, it was a pitcher’s duel. It wasn’t until the fifth inning that all three runs were scored.

Grant Kroschel had two singles for Coloma, while Ethan Price belted a double and single.

Kelley took the loss for Coloma. He pitched five innings, struck out six batters, allowed two runs, and walked three batters.

Watervliet Track set for fast start

 Watervliet girls’ varsity track and field team is poised for success this year as the team returns plenty of talent from last year’s squad.

Allie Pazera, a state qualifier in the 1600 meters, and Vicky Smith, the division champion in hurdles, are back. Also returning are seniors Jade Miller and Karli McClendon, and sophomores Alexis Burrows, Sydney Ellison, Caley Simmons, and Emma Yazel.

Junior Alyssa Hobson and freshmen Stephanie Cox, Saarah Schaefer, Raelyn Statler, and Kate Sutherland are newcomers to the team.

Head coach Ben Iliff’s squad boasts a lot of talent and he feels the very “balanced team should be competitive in most all (events).”

Iliff advised the team has set goals of having a winning dual meet season and finishing as one of the top five teams at regionals.

On Tuesday, March 28, the team participated in the Polar Bear Invitation at Marcellus. The event was not scored, however several Panthers placed at the meet.

Karli McClendon finished first in discus and second in shot put. Allie Pazera finished third in the high jump. The Lady Panther 4×400 team of Pazera, Smith, Hobson, and Simmons finished in second place.

In the team’s first official scored outing the ladies traveled to Bangor on Wednesday, March 29.

Allie Pazera nabbed four first place finishes in the high jump, 800 meters, 1600 meters, and 3200 meters. Wow!

Jade Miller finished first in the 100 and 400 meters, while Victoria Smith took first in both hurdle events, the 100 and 300.

Karli McClendon’s throw in the discus earned her a first place.

Hartford Softball blazes through the week

FINISHING STRONG… Derek Plitt of Coloma’s boys’ varsity track team powers through the final feet in the 800 meter relay Wednesday. Coloma took first place in the relay with a time of 1:37.48. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Hartford put a “W” in the scorebook Wednesday, March 29, as the squad traveled to Gobles for doubleheader action.

In the early game, Gobles led 2-1 after the first inning. Action at the plate started when Hartford’s Jaelyne Galvan smacked a double.

Sarah Rice picked up two RBIs after she singled in the four-run fourth inning. Amara Wesaw and Galvan scored in that inning as well.

Hartford’s 11 runs came on 15 hits. Gobles had 13 hits but stranded numerous base runners and could only score five runs.

Hartford tallied 11 stolen bases during the contest.

Game two was called due to darkness and will be continued at a later date once schedules are reviewed. However, the teams played to an 8-1 Hartford lead in the top of fourth inning before being sent home.

Smith and Gitersonke lead Panthers at Polar Bear Invitational; team takes first at Bangor

The Watervliet boys’ varsity track and field team fared well at the Marcellus Polar Bear Invitational Tuesday, March 28.

LA Smith earned first place medals in the long jump, high jump, and as part of the team’s 4×400 meter relay team. Joining Smith in the relay were Austin Roberts, Jobe Kerr, and Jaylen Taylor.

Jakub Gitersonke whipped two of the field events. He took first in the discus and shot put.

On Wednesday, March 29 the squad traveled to Bangor for the first official meet of the season.

Smith leapt to first place in both the long jump and high jump. He also finished first in the 200 meters.

Gitersonke once again finished first in the shot put and discus, while Klayton Marshall nabbed a first place in the pole vault.

The relay teams of the 4×100 and 4×200 also recorded first place finishes.

Keselowski’s #2 Ford takes second checkered flag of season

 Brad Keselowski claimed his second victory in six races of the 2017 NASCAR season with a win Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway. Keselowski’s victory in the STP 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race was made possible after he passed Kyle Busch to take the lead.

Keselowski led 116 laps of the race’s 500 circuits.  However, his lap total was topped by Busch, who led for 274 – over half of the 500 laps on the half-mile short track.

Keselowski, who started the race on the outside of the second row, earned his 23rd career victory.

A disappointed Busch finished in second place. Chase Elliott led 20 laps during the event and placed third.  He recorded his third top five finish of the season.

Joey Logano led one lap and finished fourth. He has three top five finishes this season, along with one pole position. Logano has yet to win but certainly is working toward a trip to Victory Lane; it’s just a matter of time.

Austin Dillon laid claim to his best finish of the 2017 season thus far. He took fifth place.

Drivers who led laps but didn’t crack the top five included Martin Truex Jr. (42 laps), pole sitter Kyle Larson (23), and Denny Hamlin (24).

The race featured 14 caution periods. Twenty of the thirty-eight drivers who began the race finished on the lead lap.

For those of you watching Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s progress after returning to the series following his medical issues last year, he finished 34th after getting tangled up in Denny Hamlin and Danica Patrick’s accident with 82 laps to go in the race.

The drivers are now safely ensconced in the confines of Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s running of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Last year, the race was known as the Duck Commander 500, which was entirely appropriate considering the race was delayed for two hours by rain – something Texans will take at every opportunity. The Saturday night race became an overnight affair after Kyle Busch won it in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

To be accurate, the track is 1.5 miles long and Sunday’s running will cover 334 laps. That should make it the O’Reilly Auto Parts 501, but who’s quibbling? Can Kyle Busch improve on this week’s runner-up status and capture the checkered flag? Find out next week.