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04-09-2020 Tri-City area sports

Press Box Player of the Week!

By John Oliphant

Our Press Box Player of the Week is JT Isbrecht. JT recently finished an outstanding MYWAY wrestling season, going 27-10 with 23 of those wins by pin. In 12 tournaments this winter he won five of them and placed second in three.

JT wrestles for the Hartford Wrestling Club in MYWAY tournaments, coached by Tony Birkhead.

JT is a 4th grader in Mrs. Williamson’s class at Watervliet North School and usually wrestles at 63 pounds in the Sunday MYWAY meets. He is the son of Tom and Kim Isbrecht of Watervliet and two of his brothers wrestle on the Watervliet High School varsity team, Nathan and Alex. His brother Luke was on the middle school wrestling team this year, and also had a good MYWAY season.

He said his favorite wrestling moves are the double leg shot and the arm bar. JT is also an avid soccer player as a member of the Kingdom Soccer Club in Portage. These days you’ll find him playing Fortnite with his quarantined friends online or reading one of the Inheritance books.

His favorite wrestler to watch is Panther senior Trever Pelton – but he doesn’t mind watching his brothers, too.

Congratulations, JT!

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

Mr. Tiger Al Kaline passes away at 85 years old

One of the greatest Tigers of all time has passed away at the age of 85. Anyone who grew up, as I did, in the 1950s and 60s as a Detroit Tigers fan more than likely admired Al Kaline. He was definitely the embodiment of how a major sport star should act, both on and off the field.

Kaline came to the Tigers in 1953 right out of high school, and moved into right field for the Tigers and stayed there for 22 years. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980, his first year of eligibility, and remained a proud employee of the Tigers front office until his passing this week. Kaline is still the youngest player to ever win the American League batting title, and finished his career with over 3000 hits, 399 home runs, and a career .297 hitter. He still holds many Tigers offensive records, many times elected to play in the all star game, and was an absolute fan favorite, highlighted by helping to lead the Tigers to the 1968 World Series Title.

RIP, Mr. Tiger, your contributions on and off the field will always be remembered here in Southwestern Michigan as well as the entire baseball world.

Coloma Comet senior softball players recognized

Unless you have been living in a densely forested area of Gogebic County in the U.P., you certainly know by now that the 2020 Michigan High School spring sports season has been canceled because of COVID-19. All of our seniors that have worked so hard for most of their life to finish their high school careers on the field, giving it their all, will now only have memories of their younger years to carry them past the disappointment of not being able to compete in their final year of high school.

This week we will highlight the previous accomplishments of the senior members of Coloma girls softball.

We begin with Megan Koenigshof. Megan would have been a four-year starter, and she is arguably one of the hardest working players on Coach Wendy Goodline’s roster ever. Megan began her career as a freshman and played in right field. That first year, Megan won the first of her three offensive player of the year awards for the Comets, hitting .526, while scoring 62 runs, and stealing 36 bases. Through her hard work and natural athletic abilities, Megan started at shortstop her sophomore year and continued her onslaught on the Coloma record book. Megan hit .595, scored 69 runs, and stole 38 bases. She was named the MVP for the Coloma team in her sophomore and junior seasons.

Megan worked extremely hard in making herself over once again. Her new position, being of the highest importance for a fast pitch team, Megan moved to the mound as the Comet pitcher her junior season. Megan became the top pitcher for the Comets and of course excelled on the mound. She gave the Comets their best chance to make a deep run in the state tournament. At the plate, Megan once again hit an astronomical .582, as she scored 64 runs and stole 41 bases.

If there had been a typical senior season for Megan, Coach Goodline states that she was preparing to nominate her for the Michigan’s Miss Softball title, an award she very well could have won. Megan was all state honorable mention her freshman year, and first team all-state her sophomore and junior seasons. Koenigshof stated that her top softball memory was of course winning the state title as a sophomore, with Coach Goodline always pushing her to be the best player she could be. Her other favorite memory was simply the bus rides with her team mates through the years. Megan will move on and continue her softball career and her education next year at Grand Valley State University.

Megan Neubecker was a Coloma starter on the softball team for two years,

and this year she would have been posted, once again, as the starting center fielder. Megan was also a starter for the Coloma squad when they won the state championship her sophomore season. One of Neubecker’s favorite memories would have to be her base hit that started the winning rally in the 7th inning of that State Championship Game.

Megan was a big run producer for the Comets, batting from the No. 3 position. The same output would have been expected from her, if the 2020 season had been played. Megan was an honorable mention all-state center fielder her junior year, and also named to the all-conference team, and was named the defensive player of the year for the Comets in 2019. Megan hit .413 from the No. 3 hole, while knocking in 45 runs with 13 doubles, two triples, and three home runs.

Megan also excelled for the Comets in volleyball and basketball, and will be continuing her career on the collegiate level beginning next year playing volleyball for Lake Michigan College.

Kelsey Ellis, another Comet senior, would have been the starting second baseman for the second year in a row, a position she held down more than capably her junior campaign. Kelsey admits that playing for one of the top softball coaches in the state seemed somewhat intimidating at first. But she realized that she is just doing her best to make sure her players would reach their full potential. Ellis states that Coach Goodline helped shape her into the person she is today, and was very much looking forward to her final year playing with her friends.

Kelsey says that her favorite memories of softball would be all the fun they had, and winning the district title for the 4th straight Comet season, and making it to the regional championship. The senior says it will be hard to let go of the season this way, but that she has many memories that will last her a lifetime.

Amaria Echols is a senior who would have been on the varsity for her

second season. Mari rotated around in the outfield her junior season, but with an abundance of dedication to her off season work Coach Goodline fully expected Mari to win the starting left field position for this season. Mari says that it was both difficult and a blessing to play on a team with so many talented players around her in addition to a demanding coach, but says she would never want to play for any other coach. Her team mates were always pushing her and helping her to be the best player she could be. Finally Mari says that, “We were such a close team, and I’ll miss all the laughs we all shared. It’s hard to believe I’ll never play high school softball again, but I’ll always have the amazing memories with me.”

Good luck to these outstanding Coloma seniors. Wherever life takes you, you will forever be a Comet.

Goodline on the move?

Zach Goodline, the Coloma Comet basketball all state standout, has entered the NCAA transfer portal, the first step in transferring from Oakland University. Goodline finished his freshman season having played in 11 games for the Golden Grizzlies. After beginning the season as a red shirt Oakland asked Zach to set his red shirt aside, as they needed an additional guard at that time. There has been no word from Zach on where he might be looking to land.

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

Panther Fall Football in preparation

As readers may know now, the high school spring sports season was cancelled before it even got started. This was very bad news for all those athletes who had been looking forward to the track, baseball, softball, girls soccer and golf seasons.

Unlike the NCAA the MHSAA cannot offer an extra year of eligibility for spring sports, and there’s no way to even begin a sport given the order to close Michigan’s public school facilities.

Josh Tremblay, Watervliet’s varsity baseball coach put it best. “This is a tough pill to swallow, especially if you’re a senior or a parent of a senior. But, it’s what’s best for everyone and goes to show that some things are more important than sports right now. I hope it allows everyone time to rethink their perspectives and slow down a bit.”

For Coach Tremblay, the baseball cancellation allows him to immediately begin working on his second season at the helm of the Panther football team. He’s been sending a collection of home workouts to all his potential football players to keep them active and stay in good physical shape, and with some luck the fall sports preparation and workouts won’t be impacted enough to affect their season.

Lady Panthers playing well in college

Five former Lady Panthers had abbreviated women’s softball seasons this year. Mercede Daugherty started her junior season at Trine University playing second base and batting in the middle of a strong lineup. She had one home run in the shortened season while maintaining a .368 career batting average on a team that was expected to win its conference.

Ariana Rowe is a sophomore pitcher at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, where she’s 1-1 but leads the team with a 1.19 ERA and 23

strikeouts in five starts with 29 innings pitched. She’s joined by teammates Celina and Sabrina Klimkiewicz, who saw limited playing time in their shortened freshman season.

Mikalah Clay started her freshman season with a hot bat at Adrian College. She hit .368 with three doubles and eight RBI from the fifth spot in the lineup before the season was halted. She was also playing a solid third base with 13 chances and no errors.

It’s unfortunate we won’t get to share the highlights of the great seasons all these women were about to have.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

It’s official – No more high school sports in Hartford for remainder of 2019-20 school year

Student-athletes across the state have been waiting patiently for nearly a month for a decision from the Michigan High School Athletic Association regarding the remainder of the winter sports season, and whether or not there would be a spring sports season. The news came down on Friday, April 3, and the news was what we feared – that every sporting event has been canceled, putting an end to the 2019-20 athletic calendar year.

The news was met with understanding due to the current health concerns, but not without major disappointment from athletic administrators, coaches and athletes. The disappointment is even higher amongst the senior class of Hartford High School, who will not be able to finish their athletic careers representing the green and white on the baseball field, softball diamond, soccer pitch and the track.

As the newspaper voice for all things Hartford Athletics, this sports writer would like to congratulate the members of the senior class, and thank you for your contributions over your entire Indian careers. You may not have been able to finish what you started many years ago, but the moments you have created are etched into our memories for a lifetime. Every one of you represented the community well, and should be proud of all your accomplishments.

Over the coming weeks and months, this column will have to get creative to give our readers fresh content. Be sure to stay tuned!

As always, GO INDIANS!


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