(File photo) Millington’s Gabbie Sherman pitches against Swan Valley while Cardinals’ second baseman McKenna Slough readies herself in the background.


Sports Editor

Unionville-Sebewaing Area’s Katie Engelhardt is the “old” soul of the 2018 All-Advertiser Softball Team by default.

The Patriots’ senior pitcher’s presence on the 11-person all-area first team is a welcome addition to a predominantly junior-laden group that collectively demonstrated youth was well served in Tuscola County and its surrounding parts this softball season. Construction of the team includes one senior (Engelhardt), eight juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.

Millington leads the way with five first-team picks in the aftermath of playing for its first ever state championship, as the Cardinals reached the Division 3 title game before falling 7-6 to Coloma. Earning spots for the Cardinals were juniors Gabbie Sherman, Sydney Bishop and Leah Denome, and sophomores Darrien Roberts and Madi Hahn.

“This has been a great group to coach, and we had one heck of a season,” said Millington coach Greg Hudie. “It’s hard to lose the big games, but when you look back, how many kids can say that they had the kind of seasons we have in each of the last few years?

“These kids have put in so much time and hard work, and I know how lucky I am to be able to coach them. I don’t take it for granted one bit,” he added. “Winning a state championship is our number one goal each year, but there are no guarantees. When it’s one-and-done in the state tournament, it takes a lot of luck to get there, too.”

With the Cardinals leading the way, broken records were something of a theme for this year’s all-area team.

Sherman became Millington’s career pitching wins leader while Bishop became the Cardinals’ career leader in hits, runs and homers. Millington’s 44 homers were also its most for a single season in school history.

Not far behind Millington with three first-team recipients, including Engelhardt, is USA. Joining her on the all-area team are her Patriots’ teammates Rylee Zimmer, a junior, and Maci Montgomery, a freshman.

The Patriots had a great season in their own right, advancing to the Division 4 state semifinals before falling 4-0 to eventual state champion Centreville. It was USA’s 12th semifinal appearance in the last 13 seasons.

Frankenmuth placed two of its players on the all-area first team: juniors Kaylee Kujat and Emily Coulter. Kujat broke her own school record for hits in a season with 68 this year, and was one of just four players in the 39-year coaching career of Eagles’ coach Brad Walraven to bat over .500 for an entire season. Her .527 batting average this season was also a school record.

Rounding out the all-area first team selections is North Branch junior Reese Ruhlman, who won the coverage area equivalent of the triple crown with the top efforts in batting average (.603), homers (18) and RBIs (66).

2018 All-Advertiser Softball

First Team

Athlete: Gabbie Sherman

School: Millington

Grade: 11

Position: P/3B

Stats: Hit .461 with five homers, 12 doubles, 56 RBIs and 35 runs scored; 27-2 as a pitcher with a 0.93 ERA and 243 strikeouts in 158 2/3 innings

College: Kent State University (softball)

Coach Greg Hudie: “She’s a phenomenal pitcher who keeps us in every single game. We’re 100 percent confident when she’s on the mound. She’s got that aura about her where she demands respect from each team we play.”

Athlete: Sydney Bishop

School: Millington

Grade: 11

Position: C

Stats: Hit .511 with eight homers, 11 doubles, 47 RBIs and 38 runs scored

Coach Greg Hudie: “She’s an unbelievable team leader who’s mature beyond her years not just as a softball player, but also as a person. She’s probably the hardest worker I’ve ever coached.”

Athlete: Leah Denome

School: Millington

Grade: 11

Position: CF

Stats: Hit .503 with six homers, eight triples, 14 doubles, 51 RBIs, 64 runs scored and 18 stolen bases

Coach Greg Hudie: “She’s an unbelievable outfielder who makes everything look effortless. We called her Miss Consistency in the postseason, when she set a state record going 4-for-4 in the state title game. She was our biggest threat offensively from districts all the way on through to the state championship game.”

Athlete: Darrien Roberts

School: Millington

Grade: 10

Position: RF/SS/utility

Stats: Hit .463 with 10 homers, three triples, 13 doubles and 65 RBIs

College: Aquinas College (softball)

Coach Greg Hudie: “She’s a freak of an athlete, and she’ll play any position you ask her to play and not think twice about it. She’s an unbelievable teammate and player, and one of the most competitive kids on my team who doesn’t like to lose.”

Athlete: Madi Hahn

School: Millington

Grade: 10

Position: 1B

Stats: Hit .432 with 11 homers, 34 RBIs, two triples, 13 doubles and 44 runs scored

Coach Greg Hudie: “She’s only a sophomore and led the team with 11 home runs. She plays very mature for her age. It’ll be nice to have her and (fellow sophomore teammate) Darrien Roberts around for two more years to keep this program going in the right direction.”

Reese Ruhlman

School: North Branch

Grade: 11

Position: SS

Stats: Hit .603 with 18 homers, 17 doubles and 66 RBIs

College: University of Detroit-Mercy (softball)

Coach Alyssa Welling: “She’s an incredible overall athlete with the confidence to match. You can almost guarantee with someone like her that she’ll go up to the plate and do her job in any situation. She’s been a leader both on and off the field for us, and we couldn’t have asked for a better season from her.”

Athlete: Kaylee Kujat

School: Frankenmuth

Grade: 11

Position: SS

Stats: Hit .527 with six homers, 10 doubles, 36 RBIs, 53 runs scored and 21 stolen bases

Coach Brad Walraven: “She’s a special talent with all the tools who’s had an incredible three years for us. She’s gotten better each year, and this was her first year at shortstop for us. She made some incredible defensive plays and was a table setter for us on offense.”

Athlete: Emily Coulter

School: Frankenmuth

Grade: 11

Position: P/3B

Stats: Hit .372 with a homer, 12 doubles, 33 RBIs and 16 runs scored; 19-10 as a pitcher with a 3.22 ERA and 186 strikeouts in 167 1/3 innings

College: Northwood University (softball)

Coach Brad Walraven: “She saved us last year (in 2017) when we were short of pitching and she jumped right in as our No. 1 option, helping lead us to the regional finals. She’s won 40 games (21 in 2017 and 19 this past season) for us over the last two years. On the offensive side, she always puts the ball in play for us, striking out just five times in more than 120 at-bats. We were a young team this year and she kept us in a lot of ball games.”

Athlete: Rylee Zimmer

School: USA

Grade: 11

Position: SS

Stats: Hit .445 with two homers, 11 triples, 14 doubles, 41 RBIs, 53 runs scored and 12 stolen bases

College: Saginaw Valley State University (volleyball)

Coach Isaiah Gainforth: “She moved over to shortstop for us this year and really did a great job. Her bat reads and jumps on base are second to none. Things seem to come easy for Rylee no matter what sport she plays. She was very good for us defensively and hit third in our lineup. She’s definitely one of the girls we’d want up with the game on the line.”

Athlete: Maci Montgomery

School: USA

Grade: 9

Position: C

Stats: Hit .492 with two homers, 11 doubles, 36 RBIs and 49 runs scored

Coach Isaiah Gainforth: “Maci wants to be great and worked hard all year to be the best catcher she could be. Defensively, she’s come a long way. Offensively, I didn’t anticipate the type of season she had for us, leading us in hitting and on-base (percentage) as a freshman. She really set the bar pretty high for herself over the next three years.”

Athlete: Katie Engelhardt

School: USA

Grade: 12

Position: P

Stats: Hit .492 with six homers, 22 doubles, 62 RBIs and 44 runs scored; 20-5 as a pitcher with a 2.19 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 140 1/3 innings

College: Madonna University (volleyball)

Coach Isaiah Gainforth: “The ultimate competitor, Katie always wanted the ball (to pitch) in big games. She had a phenomenal year for us pitching, and did everything she could offensively to help us win as many games as possible. She had a great senior campaign in everything, not just softball. She meant a lot to our team and will be missed.”

2018 All-Advertiser Softball

Second Team

Abbey Ackerman, Reese

Indyana McCoy, Reese

Kylie Wilson, Frankenmuth

Claire Breinager, Frankenmuth

Brianna Osantowske, USA

Delanie Pavlichek, USA

Lauren Adam, USA

Sabrina Gates, Millington

Lauryn Frenzel, Mayville

Payton Kolacz, Kingston

Ashlin Murphy, Caro

All-state softball

Division 2

Reese Ruhlman, North Branch

Honorable mention: Kaylee Kujat, Frankenmuth

Division 3

Darrien Roberts, Millington

Sydney Bishop, Millington

Gabbie Sherman, Millington

Delaney Peyok, Reese

Honorable mention: Leah Denome, Millington; Madi Hahn, Millington; Abbey Ackerman, Reese

Division 4

Brianna Osantowske, USA

Rylee Zimmer, USA

Maci Montgomery, USA

Katie Engelhardt, USA

Honorable mention: Lauryn Frenzel, Mayville; Delanie Pavlichek, USA

All-league softball

Tri-Valley Conference East

First Team

Gabbie Sherman, Millington

Sydney Bishop, Millington

Leah Denome, Millington

Darrien Roberts, Millington

Madi Hahn, Millington

Lauren Bouvy, Essexville Garber

Kate Hugo, Essexville Garber

Alyssa Seegraves, Essexville Garber

Kay Ratajczak, Essexville Garber

Reese Ruhlman, North Branch

Kaylee Kujat, Frankenmuth

Melissa Kreger, Caro

Second Team

Hannah Rabideau, Millington

Sabrina Gates, Millington

Ashlynn Meyers, Essexville Garber

Kristie Gray, Essexville Garber

Brianna DeMeyers, North Branch

Clare Westphal, North Branch

Autumn Deshetsky, North Branch

Emily Coulter, Frankenmuth

Claire Breinager, Frankenmuth

Sam Merrihew, Birch Run

Brooke Stafford, Birch Run

Ashlin Murphy, Caro

Greater Thumb West

First Team

Katie Engelhardt, USA

Abbie Huizar, Reese

Maci Montgomery, USA

Rylee Zimmer, USA

Abbey Ackerman, Reese

Morgan Etzel, Bad Axe

Abi Schuette, Laker High

Madi Thompson, Reese

Lauren Adam, USA

Brianna Osantowske, USA

Indyana McCoy, Reese

Greta Elston, Laker High

Kristyn Wurst, Laker High

Second Team

Brynn Polega, USA

Dawson Klein, Cass City

Jordynn Roberts, Reese

Nichole Schember, USA

Lauren Dickinson, Cass City

Riley Klein, Cass City

Katlin Kady, Laker High

Lainey Zwerk, Vassar

Bailee Ross, Cass City

Kacey Haire, Cass City

Macey White, Cass City

Tiffany White, Laker High

Delaney Peyok, Reese

Greater Thumb East

First Team

Sadie Souva, Ubly

Lauren Woods, Brown City

Zoe Mathews, Brown City

Madelyn Smalley, Ubly

Taylor Calkins, Sandusky

Danielle Franzel, Sandusky

Alexis Wiltse, Brown City

Halle Reed, Marlette

McKenzie Wilhelmsen, Marlette

Savannah Walker, Ubly

Paige Levitt, Sandusky

Madison Winiarski, Sandusky

Alexia Crenshaw, Brown City

Katelyn Sweeney, Ubly

Second Team

Haley Nelson, Sandusky

Bethany Gornowicz, Ubly

Cassidy Albrecht, Sandusky

Mikaela VanErp, Ubly

Erika Troia, Brown City

Carleigh Nickens, Marlette

Katrina Gentner, Harbor Beach

Samantha Souva, Ubly

Sydney Parker, Marlette

Miya Peters, Memphis

Rebecca Kiehler, Memphis

Morgan Gust, Harbor Beach

North Central Thumb Stars

First Team

Camryn MacGuire, Kingston

Lauryn Frenzel, Mayville

Emma Morningstar, Deckerville

Danielle Wood, Mayville

Payton Kolacz, Kingston

Ashtian Davis, Kingston

Emily Maurer, North Huron

Madisyn Guza, Deckerville

Carlie Meerschaert, Mayville

Carley Smith, Kingston

Gerilyn Carpenter, Kingston

Tasha Haddrill, Mayville

Second Team

Ellie Preston, North Huron

Lindsey Shutz, Deckerville

Patricia Pineau, North Huron

Harmony Cypher, Mayville

Hannah James, Kingston

Haileigh Foote, Deckerville

Rachel Cummings, Mayville

Kaylin Norman, Dryden

North Central Thumb Stripes

First Team

Becca Simpson, Caseville

Sydney Stephens, All Saints

Morgan Winiarski, Peck

Jessica Weller, All Saints

Jenna Davis, CPS

Carley Simmons, Caseville

Emily Sawyer, CPS

Heidi Ewald, Caseville

Emily Huiskens, All Saints

Aubyren VanConant, Peck

Emily Judd, All Saints

Olivia Grates, Caseville

Abbey Bullis, Peck

Second Team

Anna Dhogge, Peck

Kylie Bilkie, Caseville

Emma Engler, Peck

Megan Fritz, Owendale-Gagetown

Rocio Costilla, All Saints

Iris Costilla, All Saints

Carlee Rievert, Owendale-Gagetown

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