06-13-2019 Tri-City Area Sports

12U CHAMPS… Champions of the 2019 Watervliet pre-season tourna-ment; team went 4-0 for the tourna-ment! (From the left) Back row: Coach Bobby Warren, Coach Cory Edelberg, Coach Tom Camp; Third row: Allie Sullivan, Lilly Poole, Ma-kena Edelberg, Cloie Worley, Vicky Mandujano; Second row: Anjelina Moore, Jada Overton, Isabella Bultema, Leila Liberto-Taylor, Piper Selby, Destiny Warren; Front: Olivia Camp.

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

Panther Baseball falls to Bronson in regional play

The youthful Panther baseball team was in control and poised to beat Bronson while holding onto a 3-0 lead after five innings in the first round of the regional tournament. The big and senior-heavy Vikings had other ideas, scoring two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning to win the matchup at Union City on Wednesday, June 5.

The Vikings threatened in the second inning, loading the bases on two singles and a hit batter with one out. The Panthers got out of the jam on a ball hit back to pitcher Garrett Matthews, who started the double play with a throw to Caleb Bell at home and then Bell’s throw to Eric Kehrer at first to end the early threat.

In the second inning Nick Polaskey singled and stole second base. Evan Hutchins singled to score Polaskey, and the score remained 1-0 until the fifth. With one out Jakob Aldrich drew a walk and stole second base, when Andrew Chisek tripled to score the second Panther run. Chisek scored two batters later on a fielder’s choice to make the score 3-0.

After throwing five solid innings, starting pitcher Garrett Matthews was at 75 pitches. With the new pitch-count limits he was in danger of being unavailable for the rest of the week if he kept throwing. The challenge facing every high school baseball coach is whether to go with your big guns just to get to the next round, or save him for when we get there.

Facing the unavailability of his top hurler, Coach Josh Tremblay made the change putting Chisek on the mound in the sixth. Despite being lights-out in his last couple appearances, the first three Bronson batters had his number with each one getting a hit to score one run.

Caleb Bell got the first out throwing out Viking Ryan Wisman as he attempted to steal second base. But a run scored on a wild pitch before Chisek found his groove and notched two strikeouts to make the score 3-2 in favor of the Panthers.

GAME FACE… Makena Edelberg had her game face on Thursday as she pitched a couple innings for the Watervliet U12 team in a game against Gobles. The Panthers put forth a cohesive effort as they won the contest 14-4. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Viking reliever Kam Haviland shut down the Panthers in the bottom of the sixth, then Tremblay changed his mind and Matthews returned to pitch in the top of the seventh. He would be facing the top of the potent Viking lineup which features seniors in the first five slots.

After a walk, a strikeout, and a sacrifice bunt the Vikings were down to their last out with a runner on second base when Haviland, who had earlier hit a ball off the top of the left-field wall, was intentionally walked. From there, the Vikings got two singles to score two runs before a clean relay from centerfielder Tommy Swanson to Chisek to Bell cut down a base runner at home for the final out.

Leading 4-3, Haviland again shut down the Panthers in the bottom of the seventh to secure the win for the Vikings. The loss was a tough one as the Panthers were just a key hit or defensive play away from advancing to play Buchanan. The Vikings (28-11) would instead go on the beat Buchanan 6-3 in the regional semifinal at Coloma on Saturday. Bronson then lost the Super Regional Championship game to Pewamo-Westphalia on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Although they finished with a modest 10-13-1 record, the rebuilding Panther team can call this 2019 District Championship season a successful one.

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

Coloma Comet defending Division 3 softball champs fall in regional final

The Coloma Comet girls softball team rode the strong right arm of Megan Koenigshof as far as she could take them. Which, according to head coach Wendy Goodline, was a lot farther than even she expected if you had asked her early in the season.

In softball just as in baseball, you can go a long way with good pitching and good defense. But eventually you will probably have to put some runs up on the board, if you have championship aspirations. The defending Division 3 state champs from Coloma found that out on Saturday in the regional final. They just couldn’t come up with a clutch hit, even though they had a steady stream of base runners. The Lady Comets dropped the championship game to SAC conference foe Schoolcraft, by a score of 3-2.

In total the Comet batters left 14 runners on base, an astonishing two an inning. They just could not get the timely hit they so badly needed. The Eagle’s starting and winning pitcher, Adrian Rosey, finished with 10 strikeouts in her five innings of work. Makala Meade came in and earned the save, in closing out the Comets.

FROWN FACE… Coloma’s Mia Cole frowns as a strike sends dirt and dust flying off the catcher’s mitt Saturday as the Comets faced Delton Kellogg in regional semi-final action. No worries for Cole or the Comets as Coloma won 1-0 and moved on to the regional championship game. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

The Comets had an outstanding scoring opportunity right from the start in this championship matchup, as they loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning. But this inning would be a forerunner of the day’s fortune, as the Eagles pitcher then struck out three straight to end the Comet scoring chance. Three different times the Comets would leave the bases loaded in this close contest, as the timely hit they needed just never came about.

The Comets did take the first lead of the game, as they went into the fourth scoreless. Megan Koenigshof perched on second base following a double, Hannah Mathis hit a little Texas league single which was enough to bring the speedy junior Comet hurler in to score the first run of the game. Koenigshof had kept the Schoolcraft offense in check and the Comets led 1-0 going into the bottom of the fifth, but that’s when the Eagles erupted for three runs against Megan, and scored their only runs of the game. Those 3 runs proved to be enough.

However, Coloma did manage to plate another run in the top of the sixth when Sammy Stewart hit an RBI single to close the gap to 3-2. That was all the scoring in the game though, and Coloma’s chance to defend their 2018 state championship came to a finish.

On the mound Koenigshof finished the game with five strikeouts and took the tough luck loss. She also contributed a double and a single and scored that first run. Hannah Mathis and Stewart each had a single and an RBI.

Schoolcraft will move on to the quarterfinals with a fine record of 30-4, as the Comets end their season with an extremely respectable record of 24-13.

In the semi final game, Coloma defeated another conference foe in the Panthers of Delton Kellogg in another pitcher’s duel by a final count of 1-0. With Megan Koenigshof also on the mound in this game, she held the Panthers scoreless, and pitched out of trouble on several occasions. She finished with seven strikeouts and also picked up a single at the plate. Megan Neubecker had the only other hit for the Comets, and knocked in the only run of the game.

ABOUT FACE… Coloma pinch run-ner Mari Echols slides safely back to first base during the Lady Comets’ regional championship game against Schoolcraft. Despite leading 1-0 at the time of this play, the Comets ended their season with a 3-2 loss. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Coloma girls soccer team loses to Allegan in regional semi final

The best season in the history of the Coloma Comet girls soccer program came to an end, as they lost to a very physical Allegan team in the regional semi finals on Tuesday, June 4 at Hope College, by a score of 7-1.

The Comet ladies team fought hard and only trailed 2-0 at half time. Comet head coach Rick Redman said that he was very excited for his team, which was making their first trip this deep into the state tournament. They had won the district title for the first time in school history.

Coach Redman also stated that his team just wasn’t used to the type of physical play which Allegan displayed, and struggled because of it. Coach explained that in spite of the loss, he was very optimistic about the girls program and the positive strides they had made all year. They came up big against some very good opponents throughout the season and really came together as a team.

Emma Vandermolen scored the only goal in the game for the Comets, who return quite a few very talented players next season. The Comets conclude the season with an outstanding overall record of 18-3-1, by far the best Comet season ever. Allegan’s record following the win was 18-2-1, as they move on.

Press Box Player of the Week!

By Jerrod Birmele

Corey Arnold, a recent graduate of Hartford High School, is this week’s Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week.

Corey recently participated in the 2019 Addix All-Star Football game, benefitting Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids. This game, held at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium at Hope College in Holland, features many of the best players in the West Michigan area competing on two separate teams, Stars and Stripes. After being nominated last November, he was selected and drafted in May to be on the Stripes team. In the game played on June 7, he recorded six tackles, including one for a loss, in his final game representing the Indian green and white.

In his senior season of high school football, Corey was one of the main leaders on the offensive and defensive lines, playing guard on offense and tackle on defense. He was part of an offensive line that helped the Indian rushing attack rush for more than 1,500 yards on the season. On defense, he racked up 35 total tackles, along with a pair of sacks and recorded four tackles for a loss.

In addition to football, Corey was a member of the Hartford Indian boys track team, where he threw the discus and shot put. He was also a member of the Hartford Indian Powerlifting club team.

Corey finished his high school career with a 3.3 GPA. This fall he plans to attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College, where he will study marketing.

Congratulations on this great honor and best wishes in your future, Corey!

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

Well, the Hartford Press Box this week won’t be including any High School sports news, as the spring sports season has concluded. And now, all of Hartford’s student-athletes are in the early days of a well-deserved summer vacation. However, that doesn’t mean that the Hartford sports scene isn’t still active, as nearly 200 young athletes are still participating in youth baseball, softball and t-ball programs with the Hartford Council for Recreation. As a matter of fact, the diamonds are about to become very busy, as the two annual tournaments the organization puts on each year are about to begin. To find out more, let’s open the door to the Press Box and jump right into the highlights of all things green and white!

Hartford Council for Recreation hosts first “Closing Celebration”

The Hartford Council for Recreation’s mission statement reads in short, “we wish to give the youth of the communities we serve the opportunity to participate in extracurricular, structured sports programs”. This spring, nearly 200 participants joined the organization on this mission and, because of that, the organization wanted to do something a little bit special in return. Hence, the first annual “Closing Celebration”, held at Indian Pride Park on Saturday, June 8.

The day began for most as early as noon, as the teams’ made their way to Hartford High School to line-up and participate in the Strawberry Festival parade. An annual tradition in Hartford for many years, the Strawberry Festival parade makes its way from the high school and winds through the streets of Hartford, where hundreds watch bands, fire trucks, floats, police cars and vintage automobiles make their way along the parade route.

As chairman of the organization, our goal is to re-establish ties in the community – and this was one way to do so, in a fun and unique way. During the parade, nearly 100 players and their coaches walked or rode on trailers and trucks, waving to citizens of Hartford and many more that made a visit to our community to see what this festival is all about. It was warm and sunny, and that led to the pleasant attitude of our players, who did an extraordinary job of representing themselves, their teams and our organization with pride! We could not be prouder.

After the parade, teams returned to Indian Pride Park for a day full of fun and games. All of the Hartford teams were in action on this day, many of whom played one another to find out who would rein as the best team in town!

The proceedings began with the playing and singing of our national anthem, giving these games more of a professional look. Two outstanding Hartford citizens – Rick Hall, the current Mayor of the City of Hartford and Ramon Beltran, former Chief of Police, threw out ceremonial first pitches to get the action underway. It was an absolute delight to have them both, and hope they will return to do it again in 2020.

Games began around 2:30 p.m., and when the final pitch was thrown around 8:00 p.m., it concluded a day this organization won’t soon forget. This day took nearly six months of planning, and we ran many threads to ground. But, in the end, to see the delight of all the players playing ball on a picture-perfect Saturday made all the planning and hard work worth it.

The Hartford Council for Recreation would like to send a big THANK YOU to all of our players, coaches, parents, fans and spectators for giving us the opportunity to do something a little special that we will remember for a long time. The organization is absolutely grateful for the opportunity to give back to the youth of our community through recreational athletics.

We would also like to thank our friends with the Bloomingdale Cardinal Youth Sports program for bringing a makeshift 14U softball team on such short notice. It was a fantastic, tight game and we hope that they also enjoyed the day along with us.

We are asking everyone, including our baseball, softball and t-ball families and community members alike, that if you have any pictures or videos of our teams from the events on Saturday to please reach out to us and share them. This includes the Strawberry Festival parade or any games we played. We would like to put together a collage of those events.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank my team at Indian Pride Park for a job well done. A lot of what we do goes unseen to the world, and many times, it goes without praise or thanks. But every day we are making strides to make this the best place to be in the spring. The work we do will never be complete, and we will continue to make improvements and progress to be even better in the future.

Thank you again, everyone, and GO GREEN!

Hartford Council for Recreation tournaments set to take shape

For the better part of a few decades, the Hartford Council for Recreation has hosted postseason tournaments for both baseball and softball once the regular season has been completed. This year, that tradition continues as the organization is currently preparing for the annual Hartford All-Star Softball Invitational and the Hartford All-Star Baseball Tournament of Champions, coming to the diamonds of Indian Pride Park in late-June and early-July.

Last season, nearly 50 teams representing communities throughout Southwest Michigan made their way to Hartford to compete in our tournaments. When the dust settled, eight championship winning teams were crowned in four divisions of baseball and softball. Along with that, plenty of fun was had by all, and our mission is to always remember that despite whether you win or lose, you should always just come with a deep love of the game.

The Hartford All-Star Softball Invitational is set to begin on Friday, June 21 and last through Wednesday, June 26 (if needed). The Hartford All-Star Baseball Tournament of Champions will take place from Friday, June 28 through Wednesday, July 3 (if needed).

We are currently accepting and registering teams for this year’s tournaments, and are hoping for an equal or bigger turnout in 2019. To find out more, please visit http://www.hartfordrecreation.org and check out the specific tournament you are inquiring about. There, you will find the flyer, registration form and roster form, along with more information.

In last year’s Hartford All-Star Softball Invitational, two communities took the championships. In the 8U and 10U divisions, River Valley took home first-place honors, while Hartford took first-place honors in the 12U and 14U divisions.

In last year’s Hartford All-Star Baseball Tournament of Champions, there was a bit more parity, as four different communities were victorious. In the Instructional Division, it was Paw Paw that took home the title, while Hartford took home first-place honors in the Minor Division. Coloma was crowned champions in the Major Division, while Bridgman took home the title in the Pony Division.

We encourage everyone from the Tri-City area and beyond to join us at Indian Pride Park for some great tournament action in the weeks to follow. These tournaments are one Hartford tradition that you don’t want to miss!


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