Monthly Archives: June, 2017

RECAP/AUDIO: Lansing Christian Claims Division 4 Title over Kalamazoo Christian 2-1 After Penalty Kicks


After 100 minutes of play, the first 82 of which had no scoring, the Kalamazoo Christian Comets and Lansing Christian Pilgrims needed penalty kicks to determine the MHSAA Division 4 girls soccer state champion.  The Pilgrims won the shootout 4-2, giving them a 2-1 final score for their first ever state championship in three visits.

Lansing Christian dominated regulation, out-shooting the Comets 13-1 in the first half and 8-3 in the second.   However, senior goalkeeper Allyson Kranstz was a brick wall, making 12 saves in regulation and another in overtime.

“She kept us in it,” noted Kalamazoo Christian head coach Jay Allen.  “She kept us in all season, that’s why she has 20 shutouts, along with that defense.”

Despite only getting four shots in regulation, the Comets were the closest to scoring with a shot midway through the second half getting past Pilgrim goalkeeper Lynn Cullens, only to be cleared by midfielder Sarah Voss right at the goal line.

“For Sarah to do that in that moment was a huge moment,” said Lansing Christian coach Joel Vande Kopple.  “They almost got us there.”

In the first overtime, 82:38 into the contest, Lansing Christian became the first team to score on Kalamazoo Christian since April 22.   Jackie Moore found a pass to sophomore Rilyn Ross, getting her 20th goal of the season and the lead.

With 3:03 remaining in the second overtime, the Comets stuffed the box on a Meagan Laaksonen corner kick, which deflected off a header for the equalizer.

Although it initially looked like it was scored by Lauryn Mohney, and was even listed in the official scoring as such, it was actually senior Abbey VanDongen who got the deflection.

“I haven’t gone up like that on a jumping header in forever,” said VanDongen, who suffered ACL tears in the previous two seasons.  “I felt it, just watched it go in.  It was emotions and happiness after that.”

With the game tied 1-1 after the second overtime, it came down to five rounds of penalty kicks.  Lansing Christian had the first shot and Kealeigh Usiak scored.   Laaksonen matched for the Comets, followed by a another Pilgrim score by Abby Lyon.  Against Kayla Beebe, who led the Comets in goals on the season, Pilgrim keeper Lynn Cullens was able to make the save to give her team the advantage.

“Lynn, a couple of weeks ago came up to me and said, ‘coach, I don’t think we’re going to win the state title if we go to the shootout with me in goal.'” said Vande Kopple.  “We just kept trying to build her confidence and she made a huge save for us.”

“My team is like family,” said Cullens.  “For them to be on my side and for them to trust me that much…it feels great.”

Cullen also noted how she and her team rallied around senior Abby Krueger, an all-state player from last season, who suffered a season-ending injury earlier in the postseason.

“The one thing she told me before this game was, ‘Lynn, I know you’re hard on yourself, but I believe in you and God believes in you.  You just have to give it your all and keep your head up, because we all trust in you.'”

Kranstz saved the next shot by Kasey Jamieson, the top Pilgrim scorer.   The Comets couldn’t even it up as Elise VanSparrentak’s try smacked the crossbar.  Jessie Kruger scored and made it 3-1, followed by a match from Annika VanZytveld, putting it at 3-2.   The fourth and decisive PK was scored by Eliza Lewis, giving Lansing Christian the win and their first ever title.   They had taken second in 2015 and 2011 under Vande Kopple, who just finished his 11th year at the helm.

“In my first year, (Kalamazoo Christian) beat us 4-0 in the regional finals and I said to myself, ‘I don’t know how we’re ever going to beat a team like that,'” noted Vande Kopple.  “They’ve won four state championships and that’s kind of the model we followed.   To get here, to play them, to play as hard as we did and to get a win feels really good.”

Coach Allen was an assistant in Kalamazoo Christian’s previous title wins in 2008, 07, 04, and 03.   After finishing his fourth year as the head coach, he told his team following the game that they were the hardest working group he’s coached.   He also had high praise for Krantsz, who he shared a long embrace with at midfield with following the game.

“The best goalkeeper we’ve had at Kalamazoo Christian, period, ever.   You don’t replace that quality of, not just goalkeeper, but that quality of an individual,” said Allen.

“You always have something special for your first class.  The things they’ve done to me in four years, I’m surprised I’m still alive,” laughed Allen.  “They’ve worked hard, they’ve seen adversity.   This year, they came and they said, ‘we will play on June 17.’   And you know what?  Here we are, playing on June 17.”

Kalamazoo Christian finishes the year with a record of 20-3-3.   Lansing Christian ends at 23-2-2.   Listen back to the contest below:

PREVIEW: Kalamazoo Christian, Lansing Christian Compete for Division 4 Title

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Listen live online Saturday at 1 p.m. via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio to the MHSAA Division 4 girls soccer state championship match between the Kalamazoo Christian Comets and the Lansing Christian Pilgrims.

The Comets are a perfect 4-0 in state final matches, previously winning the title in 2008, 07, 04, and 03.  Ranked eighth in the final coaches poll, Kalamazoo Christian is 20-2-3 overall, defeating second-ranked Hackett Catholic (1-0), Lawton (5-0), Covenant Christian (2-0), Black River (2-0), and 16th-ranked Muskegon Catholic Central (2-0) in the postseason.  All but one of their wins this season came via the shutout, including 16 consecutive shutouts.

Lansing Christian is in the final for the third time in program history, having taken second in 2015 and 2011.  Ranked first in the final poll at 22-2-2, the Pilgrims saw postseason wins over Laingsburg (2-0), #19 Dansville (5-0), #18 Bath (8-0), #5 Jackson Lumen Christi (2-1), #14 Manchester (4-1) and last year’s champion #11 University Liggett (2-0).

Listen live online to all of the action from Williamston High School on the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio.   Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. for the Division 4 state championship.

RECAP/AUDIO: Schoolcraft Falls in 8-Inning Semifinal to St. Francis

The deepest-ever postseason run for Schoolcraft baseball ended Friday at Michigan State University, as the sixth-ranked Eagles lost 3-2 in eight innings to top-ranked Traverse City St. Francis in a Division 3 semifinal.   Schoolcraft finishes with a record of 25-11, with St. Francis moving to 38-3 and to Saturday’s championship game against Madison Heights Bishop Foley.

The Eagles struck first, ending the Gladiators’ postseason shutout streak in the bottom of the first inning.   Nolan Anspaugh led off with a triple and was brought in on a ground-out by Ricky Clark.   St. Francis grabbed the lead in the top of the third on two hits and two walks, with a Keaton Peck single scoring Aaron Simon and Artie Dutmers.   Schoolcraft tied the game in the bottom of the third with a one-out Nolan Anspaugh double setting up a sacrifice fly from his brother, Caleb.

The game stayed locked at 2-2 through regulation, despite Schoolcraft loading the bases in the fifth and seventh innings and getting two hits and a walk in the fourth.  Both starting pitchers went 6.2 innings, leaving the game because of the pitch count.   For St. Francis, Conner Sweet entered with bases loaded and closed the door, then kept Schoolcraft from scoring despite a walk and single in the eighth.   In the top of the eighth, the Gladiators used a walk, interference, and hit batter against Darren Kehoe to load up the bases and get a sacrifice fly, as Cooper Peterson brought home Gabe Callery.

“We had opportunities that we just not able to take advantage of today,” said Schoolcraft coach Larry Phelps.

It was final game for much of the Eagle roster, as 11 seniors graduate.

“They’re going to be hard to replace.   Probably one of the best baseball classes to ever come through our school.   Tough act to follow.”

Blake Bales went 6.2 innings for Schoolcraft, allowing three hits, two earned runs, and three walks, with nine strikeouts.  Bales fanned five of the first six batters he met.  St. Francis starter Joe Muzljakovich in his 6.2 innings allowed seven hits, two earned runs, and six walks with four strikeouts.   St. Francis moves to the championship at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Bishop Foley from Michigan State.   Listen back to Friday’s semifinal below:

PREVIEW: Schoolcraft Meets St. Francis in Baseball Semifinal

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Listen live online Friday at 11:30 a.m. via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio
as the Schoolcraft Eagles face the Traverse City St. Francis Gladiators in a MHSAA Division 3 baseball semifinal at Michigan State University.

This is Schoolcraft’s first ever trip to the baseball semifinals.   Ranked sixth in the final coaches poll, the Eagles are 25-10 following their 6-1 quarterfinal victory Tuesday over Homer.   The Eagles are averaging around eight runs per game, while allowing around three per contest.

St. Francis was ranked first in the final poll and sits at 37-3 overall.   They no-hit Grand Rapids West Catholic for a 3-0 quarterfinal win Tuesday, giving them seven consecutive shutouts.  They’re allowing just over one run per contest, while scoring 6.5 per game.   The Gladiators are trying to make it to the championship for the second time in school history, taking runner-up back in 1990.

Listen live online to the semifinal via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio.  First pitch is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Friday from Michigan State University.

RECAP/AUDIO: Kalamazoo Christian Reaches Girls Soccer Final For Fifth Time

The Kalamazoo Christian Comets advanced to the MHSAA Division 4 girls soccer championship match with a 2-0 victory over the Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders in Wednesday’s semifinal from Comstock Park High School.

The Comets scored the opening goal roughly six minutes into the contest, as sophomore forward Kayla Beebe tallied her team-best 29th goal with 34:15 remaining.   The score held at 1-0 until freshman Lauryn Mohney scored her 10th goal with 33:27 left in the second half.   Once again, the defense held firm, grabbing their 16th consecutive shutout.  The game ended with 1:45 remaining due to an incoming thunderstorm.

Muskegon Catholic Central finishes at 21-4-1, ending what was their deepest ever postseason run.   The Comets move to 21-2-2 and will now play in their fifth state championship, having gone 4-0 with titles in 2008, 07, 04, and 03.  They meet Lansing Christian, who downed last season’s champion University Liggett 2-0 in their semifinal.   Lansing Christian is 0-2 in championship matches, having taken the runner-up spot in 2015 and 2011.   The final is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. from Williamston High School.

Listen back to the Comets’ semifinal win below:

PROGRAMMING NOTE:  The broadcasting status of the final depends on Friday’s state baseball results.   If Schoolcraft baseball wins their semifinal, the Slocum Sports Network/Michigan Sports Radio would broadcast the Eagles in their final Saturday at 2:30.   If Schoolcraft loses Friday, there wouldn’t be a conflict and that would allow for broadcast of the soccer final.    Finals broadcasts are also available via the MHSAA.

RECAP: Schoolcraft Baseball Downs Homer 6-1, Reaches Semifinal For First Time

0613171910The Schoolcraft Eagles have reached the baseball semifinals for the first time in school history, thanks to a 6-1 victory over the Homer Trojans Tuesday in a Division 3 quarterfinal at Hope College.   The Eagles started ahead, with Caleb Anspaugh bringing in his brother Nolan on a RBI triple in the first inning.   In the third, a Nolan RBI single and Caleb sacrifice fly brought in Carlos Andino and Hunter Johnson for a 3-0 lead.

Nolan Anspaugh and Ricky Clark both scored in the top of the fifth inning off a Blake Bales two-RBI single.   The Trojans finally scored in the bottom of the fifth, using two hits and an error to bring home Garrett Butler on a Jordan Sherman RBI single.   Another Caleb Anspaugh sac fly pushed Clark home in the seventh for extra cushion.  A great 4-6-3 double-play started by Bales squashed a potential sixth inning rally and relief pitcher Darren Kehoe kept the door closed in the bottom of the seventh despite allowing a walk and single.

Ricky Clark was the winning pitcher for Schoolcraft, allowing three hits, an unearned run, and three walks with nine strikeouts over five innings.  Kehoe allowed one hit and walk over the final two innings with two strikeouts.  Homer’s Joe Roth started on the mound and went 4.2 innings, allowing nine hits, five runs, all earned, with three walks and two strikeouts.   Zach Butters took the remaining 2.1 innings, giving up one earned run on three hits with one strikeout.

“These kids play with heart and great effort,” noted Schoolcraft coach Larry Phelps.  “I think we struggled a little during the middle of the season, maybe with some frustration playing the schedule that we did and being in some tighter games and not winning.  We just focused on having fun from that point on and I think that’s made all the difference in the world for these kids.”

Nolan Anspaugh was 4-4 with two runs and one RBI.  Clark had two hits and two runs offensively with Caleb Anspaugh getting three RBI and one hit.   Homer finishes at 36-6 and loses seniors Caleb Chamberlain, Cody Turner, Payton Schrader, Brandon Fisher, and Garrett Butler.

Schoolcraft improves to 25-10 and plays in the semifinal Friday against Traverse City St. Francis, the top-ranked team in the final coaches poll.   You can listen to Friday’s contest live online via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio with first pitch scheduled for 11:30 a.m. from Michigan State University.   Listen back to Tuesday’s quarterfinal below:

PREVIEW: Kalamazoo Christian Battles Muskegon Catholic Central in Semifinal

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Listen live online Wednesday at 7 p.m. via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio as the Kalamazoo Christian Comets face the Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders in a Division 4 girls soccer semifinal from Comstock Park High School.   The winner advances to Saturday’s state championship at Williamston High School against either number-one ranked Lansing Christian or defending champion University Liggett.

Kalamazoo Christian enters at 20-2-2, having defeated Black River and Covenant Christian, both 2-0, in last week’s regional tournament.   It’s the second time in three years the Comets have made the semifinals, with Kalamazoo Christian losing 5-1 to eventual state champion Calvin Christian back in 2015.   The Comets have made it to the championship four times, each time taking the title.   The most recent visit was 2008, with additional crowns in 2007, 2004, and 2003.

The Crusaders are 21-3-1 overall, having defeated Elk Rapids in overtime 2-1 in the regional final and flattening Saginaw Nouvel 8-0 in the semifinal.   It is the first time Muskegon Catholic Central has made it to this point.

Listen live online to all of the action via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio.   Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday from Comstock Park.

PREVIEW: #6 Schoolcraft Faces #4 Homer in Division 3 Baseball Quarterfinal

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Listen live online Tuesday at 5 p.m. through the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio as the Schoolcraft Eagles meet the Homer Trojans in a MHSAA Division 3 baseball quarterfinal from Hope College in Holland.  Schoolcraft is in the final eight for back-to-back seasons, while Homer is back for the first time since 2013.  The Eagles have never advanced beyond the quarterfinals, while Homer won the Division 4 championship in 2006 and Division 3 crown in 2004.

Schoolcraft enters with an overall record of 24-9-1, with district tournament wins over Galesburg-Augusta (17-1), Constantine (18-5), and seventh-ranked Comstock (10-0).   Saturday, they dropped Watervliet (2-1) and Buchanan (4-2) in the regional tournament.   Meanwhile, Homer is 36-5 with district tournament wins over Hillsdale (11-0), eighth-ranked Bronson (1-0), and 14th-ranked Jonesville (3-2).  Saturday, they downed Delton-Kellogg (6-0) and rallied to beat Michigan Center (7-6).

In the final Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association poll for Division 3, Homer was ranked fourth with Schoolcraft placed sixth.  The only team rated higher still remaining in the field is first-ranked Traverse City St. Francis.   The winner between them and 11th-ranked Grand Rapids West Catholic will play the Homer/Schoolcraft victor at Michigan State Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the state semifinals.

Listen live to Tuesday’s quarterfinal game online via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio.   First pitch is set for 5 p.m. from Hope College.

RECAP/AUDIO #6 Lake Michigan Catholic Takes Regional 29 Tournament

The sixth-ranked Lake Michigan Catholic Lakers advanced to the Division 4 MHSAA baseball quarterfinals with a pair of 5-3 victories Saturday over top-five ranked opponents.   The Lakers defeated fourth-ranked Hackett Catholic in the semifinal, then topped fifth-ranked Centreville in the final.  The Bulldogs had advanced after a 6-3 win over the hosting Decatur Raiders.

In the championship, the Lakers scored in the first inning, but fell behind after two in the second and one in the third from Centreville.   Two from LMC in the bottom of the third put the game at 3-3, which it stayed at until the bottom of the sixth inning.  Freshman Matthew DeFay had a one-out single, followed by an RBI triple from Zach Rogers.   He would score on an error for extra cushion.

Andrew Kangas was solid in relief for the Lakers.   He pitched the final five innings, allowing four hits, one run, two walks, and three strikeouts.  DeFay had two runs on three hits, Rogers had two hits, two runs, and an RBI, and Jake Kissane brought in three on two hits.  Alex Meyer started for Centreville, allowing three runs on seven hits in four innings.   The win avenges a Regional semifinal loss to Centreville from last season for LMC.

In their earlier win over Hackett, LMC initially trailed thanks to a three-run first inning for the Irish.  Aided by fielding woes, the Lakers put up single runs in the first, second, and third to tie the game.   Like against Centreville, the sixth inning is where they broke through, using a walk, double, and single to plate two runs.  DeFay pitched 6.1 innings, allowing five hits, three runs, one earned, with three walks and six strikeouts.
In the first game of the day, Decatur started up with a first-inning run against Centreville.   The Bulldogs matched in the second, with the Raiders adding two in the third.   The Bulldogs again matched one inning later, then jumped ahead with one in the fifth and two in the sixth.  Coletin Gascho pitched a complete game, allowing four hits, three runs, one earned, with two walks and six strikeouts.

Centreville ends the year at 19-3, with Hackett finishing 25-5 and Decatur at 16-16.   Lake Michigan Catholic improves to 28-5 and meets Hudson Tuesday in the quarterfinal at 5 p.m. from Bailey Park in Battle Creek.

Listen back to Saturday’s Regional games below:




PREVIEW: Regional 29 Baseball Tournament at Decatur

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Listen live online Saturday on Michigan Sports Radio and the Slocum Sports Network
to the Regional 29 baseball tournament from Decatur High School.   The action begins at 10 a.m. with the hosting Decatur Raiders facing the fifth-ranked Centreville Bulldogs.   At noon, the fourth-ranked Hackett Catholic Irish play the sixth-ranked Lake Michigan Catholic Lakers.  The winners meet at 2 p.m. with a trip to the quarterfinals on the line.

Centreville is the defending Regional champion and was the Division 4 runner-up two seasons ago.  They defeated the other three on their way to last season’s final four appearance.  They topped Hackett 4-2 in the District final, edged LMC 3-2 in the Regional semifinal and blanked Decatur 8-0 in the Regional final.   The Bulldogs are 18-2 this season, having defeated Howardsville and Marcellus in district 115.

Decatur was the Division 3 runner up in 2014, but the Raiders have been stopped by Centreville the last two years.  At 16-15 overall, Decatur dropped 17th-ranked and District 113 host Lawrence 6-4 and outraced Holland Calvary 19-9.   Despite the weakest overall record, having home-field advantage and a four-time state champion coach in Ben Botti makes the Raiders a significant threat.

Hackett Catholic is the highest-ranked by the final coaches poll, fresh off wins over Kalamazoo Christian and Bellevue for their first district crown since 1988.   The Irish are 25-4 overall and are hoping to have their deepest playoff run ever in baseball.   Last season, they set a school-record with 28 wins.

Lake Michigan Catholic is into the Regional round for the fourth consecutive year, although they haven’t advanced beyond Regionals in this stretch.   Their deepest run came with a runner-up finish in 2010.  At 26-5, the Lakers pounded New Buffalo and River Valley in the district tournament.

Listen live to all three games Saturday online via the Slocum Sports Network and Michigan Sports Radio.   Game one is at 10 a.m. between Decatur and Centreville, followed by Hackett and LMC at noon and the final around 2 p.m.