08-27-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

LADY PANTHERS 16U… softball team took 5th place at the USSSA state championship tournament in Canton, Michigan last weekend. Pictured (from the left) Front row – Christin Cooper, Hannah Hart, Grace Chisek, Maddie (MJ) Flowers, Jaylie Querfurth; Back row – Ellie Golden, Lexi McCarty, Haiden Edelberg, Addison Riley, Olivia Elliott, Samantha Dietz, and Abby Whorton. (Contributed photo)

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

One last softball weekend for 2020

A talented group of Watervliet High School softball players traveled to the USSSA state championships in Canton, Michigan last weekend. The team went 3-2 to finish fifth place in one of the toughest 16-team tournaments they’ll see until the next MHSAA regionals. The 16U Panther team went 2-1 in pool play, then won their first bracket game and lost to the eventual tournament champion.

The Panthers opened the tournament against a Livonia 18U team on Friday evening. They promptly put five runs on the board in the top of the first inning with their first five batters. From there they played small-ball on their way to an 8-2 win behind solid pitching from starter Hannah Hart and reliever Haiden Edelberg.

Game two had the Panthers starting off in the same fashion. Leadoff batter Samantha Dietz got a single, MJ Flowers got a walk, and number three batter Grace Chisek pounded a home run over the left field fence to take a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Panthers eventually lost the game 5-4 on a walk-off single in the bottom of the final inning.

In the third game of pool play the Panthers dominated a Lansing 16U team 11-2. Once again, in the top of the first inning their first two batters scored. They didn’t have any big innings, but they put up at least two runs in every inning. Hart and Edelberg again combined for the win, propelling them into a favorable spot in the bracket.

Playing as the home team for the first time, starting pitcher Hart escaped trouble in the top of the first after an error and a double put runners on second and third bases. Leadoff hitter Dietz again scored in the first inning, this time on a sacrifice fly by Olivia Elliot which also moved Chisek to third base. Christin Cooper then hit a single to plate Chisek and the Panthers took a 2-0 lead after their first at-bat. They scored two more in the second inning then pounded out four more runs in the fifth to take an 8-2 lead. They gave up two runs in the fifth inning, but Elliot got two called third strikes to end the game at 8-4.

In their final game the Panthers lost to the tournament champion from Otsego, 13-3. The only highlight of the game was a two-run homer by Chisek in the third inning.

For the weekend Chisek and Dietz led all Panther hitters, each batting .500. Dietz scored nine runs on six singles. Chisek had six hits, including the two homers, along with nine RBI.

Cooper and Elliot, both, batted .455. Cooper had a pair of RBI to go along with two doubles. Elliot had a double, five RBI, and no strikeouts in 11 at-bats. Abby Whorton batted a solid .400, with a double and home run leading to four RBI.

Hannah Hart was 3-0 pitching, giving up just five runs in 11 innings and striking out six batters. Elliot pitched ten strong innings, collecting 11 strikeouts and doing well in the author’s favorite stat by hitting three batters. Edelberg was also solid in her two innings of relief.

Other highlights included Whorton giving up her body to run through a fence to try and catch a ball and MJ Flowers with key sacrifices and making the pitchers work in every at bat. Ellie Golden and Jaylie Querfurth played solid defense in the outfield while Addison Riley snagged everything that came her way at first base.

Looks like we’re going to have a fun softball season in Watervliet next spring!

Ladies Monday Night Happy Hour Golf League

Aug. 24 Golf Report from the Paw Paw Lake Golf Club: Weekly Event, Most 1 putts – Cheryl Hutchins with 3; Low Gross – Sue Pantaleo with 48; Low Net – Sue Pantaleo with 36; Low Putts – Sue Pantaleo with 15; Pars – Cheryl Hutchins on #13, Sue Pantaleo on #10 and #15; Chip-Ins – Kathy Osborne on #17, Sue Pantaleo on #15, Katherine Rodriguez on #15.

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

Coloma boys soccer ready to take a step up; new coach Joe Schmidt encouraged by early practices

Even if Michigan’s governor isn’t quite ready to release the high school athletes to return to competition as of this writing, the Coloma Comet boys soccer team has been preparing for weeks, and is ready to get back to playing their sport. The first Comet soccer game was scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 26. But on Monday afternoon Aug. 24, Coloma athletic director Wendy Goodline had to cancel that home game vs. Dowagiac because there still had been any word from Lansing on whether soccer in our region of Michigan is approved for competition. Soccer competitions at that time could only take place in the very northern regions of our state, with word expected at any time regarding the other regions including our little corner of Michigan. We will preview the Coloma Comet season for boys soccer, with the expectation that there will be a season sooner rather than later.

The Coloma boys soccer team under the guidance of newly hired head coach Joe Schmidt has higher expectations for this season, following three years with a losing record. The Comets in 2015-16 and 2016-17 had outstanding records of 15-3 and 12-5 respectively, but wins have come a lot harder for Coloma the last three years; the 2019-20 season being the high water point at 5-13-1 of the last three campaigns. However the hiring of Joe Schmidt, who assumes the third head coaching job of his career, is expected to breathe new life into the Coloma program and get back to where winning is more expected on a regular basis.

Last year the Comets had a very young squad which was made up of mostly sophomores, and a single senior. This year’s squad is a little older with 11 of those players now in the junior class, with one senior, two sophomores, and one freshman added to the mix. Coach Schmidt was very much looking forward to the first game vs. Dowagiac, which was ultimately canceled, because the Chieftains have a good program and should have provided a stiff test in which the coach would have had a better understanding of where his team stands at this point in time.

The coach tells us that from the start of conditioning workouts in July, until now, he believes the team has made rapid improvements in all areas and positions on the field. He said the core of the team has worked extremely hard in dedicating themselves to that improvement. Cannon Hodges and Luke Phillips have stood out as facilitators in the midfield and have shown their leadership with consistency and communication on the field.

On the attacking side of the field Lucian Whitaker has shown a great deal of creativity in opening up scoring opportunities. On the outside Layne Whitaker should be quite an effective weapon, both on offense and as a defender, because of his ability to play in the air and his tireless work ethic. Wesley Seabury is back in goal for the Comets and is showing a greater comfort and understanding, giving him more confidence, which according to Coach Schmidt is a key component in being an effective goal keeper. Michael DeRosa has been an early standout in practices, and should be a solid contributor on the defensive end of the field.

Coach Schmidt says that the team voted on the captains for the season, and they will be Cannon Hodges, Luke Phillips, and Wes Seabury. Coach says that he firmly agrees with the captains they have selected, and adds that as the season progresses they may add a fourth captain or rotate an additional captain week to week to give others the opportunity to take on more of a leadership role.

When asked about goals or expectations for this team, with it being his first year, Coach Schmidt says that the number one goal should always be that they will be playing their best soccer in October for the post season. He also believes that in looking ahead at the schedule and his roster of players a winning season could be a possibility, if the players continue to show the outstanding effort they’ve shown up to this point. He goes on to tell that with only one senior on the team it is very difficult to compete against good squads at the varsity level, but with an overloaded roster of juniors could still win more than they lose.

Coach Schmidt says that being his first year at Coloma he certainly would like to see an improvement in the won/loss column. But he’d like to begin to set a foundation for the Coloma soccer brand, to grow into something that the players, their families, the school, and the whole community can rally around, and be proud of. So far he’s happy for what he’s seen with the veteran leadership, and the underclassmen eager and willing to learn from their older peers.

The 2020 Coloma boys soccer roster includes senior Tyler Russell; juniors, Lucian Whitaker, Michael DeRosa, Cannon Hodges, Zander Bradley, Luke Phillips, Layne Whitaker, Wes Seabury, Aiden Dryer, Devon Sawyer, and Dylan Sawyer; sophomores, Brodie McQuillan and Seth McQuillan; and freshmen, Fletcher Todd and Anthony Lopez.

If the governor gives her permission the Comet’s next game is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 29 at home against the Lawton Blue Devils, game time 9:00 a.m. Coloma will again be playing their home games at McDaniel Field.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

Hartford cross-country begins season as soccer, volleyball awaits fate

Well, this week’s edition of the Hartford Press Box will be bringing a little bit of good news and a little bit of bad news. The good news is that the 2020 Hartford Indian cross-country season is officially underway, with the first meet of the season having been run last week. However, the bad news is that boys soccer and volleyball have had to cancel early games and matches, as they continue practice awaiting a verdict from the state.

The Hartford Indian cross-country teams began the season last Friday, Aug. 21, with the Lawrence Early Bird Invitational. The event took place in front of no spectators, which will likely become the normal for this season in this new COVID-19 age of high school athletics. Also, the field was limited to 70 runners or less, which was the recommendation set forth by the Michigan High School Athletic Association when the sport was approved for play.

With the parameter of 70 runners or less in place, it would appear that several meets, and invitational events, that the Hartford runners would have been in will be axed off of the schedule for this year. Already, meets in Bridgman and Mendon have been canceled, along with the home Teske Invitational, which was set for Sept. 10 at the Van Buren County Fairgrounds.

Getting back to the season-starting meet, no official results were made available as of press time. However, the Hartford Press Box does know that the Indian and Lady Indian runners competed with teams from Comstock, Decatur, Eau Claire and Lawton, in addition to the host team, Lawrence. And fans can only hope that with all the practice work that the men and ladies put in over the summer that they all had great runs.

Due to all the cancellations, the schedule is currently changing and evolving daily. Currently, the schedule indicates that the runners will not return to competition until at least Sept. 23 at the earliest, with the first Southwest 10 Jamboree on the docket to be held in Decatur. If anything changes, Press Box writings will make sure to keep readers posted in future editions of the Tri-City Record.

While the cross-country teams are already competing, boys soccer and volleyball continue to practice, with their seasons in flux due to the current social distancing standards. And already, the delays have had an impact on the schedule. At least two soccer matches and a tournament, along with two volleyball tournaments, have already been canceled. The rest of the season is unknown, as it is pending approval from the governor’s office.

Last week, the MHSAA did approve boys soccer and volleyball practices and competition, but right now, only those regions in “Phase 5” of the MI Safe Start plan have begun play. There are only two areas that have been approved: the Traverse City region and the Upper Peninsula. So, while they are playing right now, areas like ours here in Southwest Michigan are awaiting the next move from the governor. Coaches and players of those two sports are hoping to avoid the same fate as football did recently.

Only time will tell what will eventually happen, but as a sports writer, we sincerely hope to have some action to talk about in the days, weeks and months ahead. So, we can only encourage readers and fans to stay tuned, and I would like to say thank you for your loyal support of this column, and the newspaper as a whole, during this difficult time.

As always, GO INDIANS!

Press Box Player of the Week!

By Dave Vollrath

TCR Press Box Player of the Week for Aug. 20, 2020 is Coloma junior soccer player Cannon Hodges. Cannon will be playing in his second season as one of the co-captains on the Coloma boys soccer team, which is practicing in preparation for the fall season.

Cannon has been playing soccer since he was in elementary school, and is a very confident player on the field, and says that his journey playing soccer has been amazing. His parents are mother Jennifer Hodges, and father Scott Hodges and step-mom Angela Hodges.

Cannon says that he is looking forward to the Comets having a very successful season, which is bolstered by the fact that they have many of the starters back from last season. He believes new head soccer coach Joe Schmidt will have a positive impact on the team, and should move the Coloma program in a positive direction. Cannon’s main focus for this season is helping the Comets set a school record for wins in a season, which will hopefully see Coloma advance deeper into the state tournament.

According to new Coloma head coach Joe Schmidt, since they have been allowed to have team conditioning this summer, and the early season practices, Cannon has shown an enthusiasm and work ethic that is infectious. Coach Schmidt also is impressed with Cannon’s willingness to improve the team, by helping his younger teammates become better players, even staying after practice to do so.

In addition to playing soccer for the Comets, Cannon played point guard last year on the junior varsity basketball team and is a member of the track team. Cannon currently carries a 3.45 GPA in the classroom, and would love to play soccer at the collegiate level, in a couple of years. Coach Schmidt says Cannon leads by example and works hard at improving himself in everything he does, and looks forward to coaching him and watching him improve as a player and a leader of the team.

Congratulations Cannon on this award, and we look forward to watching as your future unfolds.


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