Schoolcraft baseball players line the dugout to congratulate their teammates on a big hit during the semi-final state championship game in East Lansing. They lost in extra innings to Traverse City St. Francis, 3-2. St. Francis went on to lose in the championship game to Madison Heights Bishop Foley Catholic Central. Overall the Eagles posted a 25-11 record with eleven seniors on the team that has been together for years. This is the furthest a Schoolcraft baseball team has attained in Division 3 competition. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.
By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg Bulldog varsity baseball team had high hopes going into tournament play. The team became district champions after beating Three Rivers 2-1 and Otsego 8-0 on June 3.
But when Vicksburg got to the Regional semifinal round against Stevensville Lakeshore on June 10, the season ended in an extra innings controversy.
The Bulldogs got out to an early lead in the first after junior Adam Henderson hit a big double. Fellow junior Ryan Morgan laid down a perfect bunt to put Henderson in scoring position and senior Brenden Lovell brought him home for an early 1-0 lead.
The Lancers tied things up with a couple of doubles in the third and then took the lead in the fifth.
Down 2-1, the Bulldogs responded to the pressure of the situation in the best way possible. Henderson and Morgan both singled before a hit by junior Garrett Ketelaar allowed Vicksburg to tie things up 2-2.
The game went into extra innings after no scoring in the seventh. Finally, in the top of inning 10, Henderson had another big double. Morgan had help in a Stevensville error that let Henderson score the go-ahead run.
It was in the bottom of the 10th that controversy and bad luck struck for the Bulldogs. With Morgan on base to relieve Lovell, the Lancers had one on and one out when Stevensville popped a ball over towards second, which was caught and called as an out by the official.
However, after an umpire conference, officials allowed the Stevensville runner to take his base saying the batter had been interfered with by the Vicksburg catcher. The call came with much displeasure from the Vicksburg fans.
The call also seemed to swing momentum back to Stevensville. The next Lancer batter walked to load the bases and another walk of the next batter tied the game 3-3. Soon after, a Stevensville batter got a hit to center to end the game 4-3.
While head coach Brian Deal wasn’t pleased with the call that ended the Bulldogs’ season, he also said sometimes calls just don’t go your way.
“The only thing I can say is they gave their absolute best effort through 10 innings of baseball,” Deal said. “I can’t say enough about how they competed all season long.”
By Kip Young
The Michigan High School Clay Target League season-ending state tournament is June 17th in Mason. The Bulldog Clay Target Team will be well represented with 25 student athletes attending. Each team member will shoot 100 targets that day for team and individual scores. The athletes competing are Tristan Bierema, Tyler Borden, Lucas Cannizzaro, Austin Currie, Kyle Feasel, JP Fritz, Kody Fruehauf, Jordan Gorsline, Haven Haring, Jeffrey Hoagg, Anthony Knowles, Jager Luegge, Owen Moberley, Eliot Pierce, Anthony Renzema, Glen Rhyner, Travis Robertson, Cody Robinson, Zachary Sackrider, Tyler Sands, Jakob Schmidt, Tanner White, Chase Willcutt, Michael Wright Jr and Trevor Young.
This is the inaugural season for the Bulldog team, which consists of boys and girls in grades 6-12. Forty-eight students on the team shot over 21,000 clay targets so far. The Bulldog Clay Target team is in Conference 4 and is the second largest team in the state. Romeo and Armada high schools round out the other conference 4 teams. For up-to-date Michigan league information and standings visit http://www.miclaytarget.com
First 25 Straight
Kody Fruehauf, a junior at Vicksburg, recorded the team’s first-ever 25 straight during competition week 3. Kody received a league 25 straight patch and is listed on the state website.
Friends of the NRA Contribute
The FNRA of Michigan recently donated ammunition and shotguns to the Bulldog program. Included in the donation were three shotguns, including two scaled-down youth models for younger or smaller shooters. Also included in the grant were 20 cases of ammunition, approximately 20 percent of the season’s needs.
By Brian Freiberger
“She was just born with it,” said Leslie Kudary, mother of Vicksburg high school softball standout Carlie Kudary about her daughter’s athletic achievements while playing at Vicksburg.
Early in May, senior softball center fielder for Vicksburg, Kudary signed her letter of intent to play softball, and study biology and psychology at NCAA-Division II, University of Missouri-Saint Louis (UMSL) enrolling in the fall of 2017.
Kudary verbally committed to the university earlier this year. “It’s a pretty big relief for me, finding the right fit … I love the coaches and its perfect for me.“
Kudary is a four-year starter (2014-17), two-time district champion (2015- 16) and a state finalist in 2016. She was also named to the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) softball first-team all-state, Division two in 2016. The list of achievements keep growing for Kudary as she prepares for another deep run in the MHSAA softball playoffs in 2017. Kudary has been also a part of Vicksburg softball academic all-state team all four years in high school while being seventh out of 10 academically in the 2017 class at Vicksburg high school.
Kudary has had three primary coaches throughout her softball career: Dave Smiley, Ted Zimmerman and Paul Gephert.
Kudary’s first coach, Dave Smiley, coached Kudary from ages 11-16. “Speed kills, you can’t teach speed,” said Smiley describing Kudary’s attributes. “Her speed around the bases makes it a lot easier on the coach.” And, he said, “She’s really smart!”
All three of the coaches agreed the Kudary’s speed is outstanding.
“All the tools for a left-handed slapper,” said Ted Zimmerman, Kudary’s travel softball coach from ages 16-18, about what she brings to her team. Kudary is currently fourth in the Softball MHSAA record book with 88 hits in 45 games during the 2016 season.
A left-handed slapper is a batter who pressures the opposing team’s defense to field the ball when hit, and throw it under pressure of the player’s speed. “The failure for a slapper is up, she has to be resilient and tough,” said coach Smiley.
The three coaches agreed that Kudary is a “true outfielder. She runs balls down that are triples, she covers so much ground,” said Paul Gephert, Kudary’s high school softball coach, about her effectiveness on the field.
Kudary is one of five seniors on the team that have been on the varsity team all four years. Three of the five, Kudary included, have been starters all four years. Gephert said of the five, “They’re driving each other.”
The Bulldogs lost in the state championship game in 2016 to Richmond, 2-0. “They felt let down to get that far. Last year was learning and this year is their time,” Gephert added.
By Sue Moore
Playing lacrosse for Kalamazoo College isn’t very high profile but Anna Costanzo, 2017 Vicksburg High School graduate, believes she has the talent to make the program more successful. She recently signed a letter of intent to play for the Hornets lacrosse team in the 2018 season.
The K College women’s lacrosse team started MIAA play in 2013 and had a 4-10 record in 2017. Costanzo was signed because she is a defensive specialist for the Bulldogs lacrosse team this spring. Her interest in lacrosse began when she was in eighth grade. She has played four years for Vicksburg as the lacrosse program grew from club status to varsity sport.
Costanzo also earned a four-year academic award upon high school graduation with a 4.182 grade point average. She has an academic scholarship from K College and will live on campus. Her goal is to become a dermatologist. She is also considering the Navy once she has completed her education. She is the daughter of Tammy Costanzo of Vicksburg and Gerald Montella of Colorado.
By Sue Moore
Basketball has been Vicksburg High School graduate Layna Steele’s life since she was very little, said her mother, Amy Steele. “All she ever wanted to do was play the ‘round ball sport’ although she has excelled in track and cross country.”
Now she will continue that drive to excel as she signed a full-ride letter of intent to play at Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) for the 2017-18 season. “She is the hardest working girl I’ve ever coached, both off-season and on,” said Jessie Ward, her trainer since 9th grade. “She would practice two times a day, getting up at 5 a.m. for a morning workout before school. She is a great ball-handler and still developing her skills. She will be a great player.”
Coach Rodger Salinas of KVCC has seen her at basketball camp for many years. “She has high character and her basketball IQ is off the charts. She was also an academic all-state player for Vicksburg with a 3.72 GPA. She will be able to play at a high level in two years,” the interim KVCC coach said.
Steele plans to transfer to Western Michigan University to study physical therapy. “I’m excited for this opportunity. I love the coaches at Valley. I wouldn’t be where I am without the help of my high school coach Jesse Vanabel and my trainer, the other Jessie who works with me. I’ll even get to wear the #20 at Valley after having it for Vicksburg the last four years,” Steele said. Her parents, Amy and her father, Nathan, are employed by Stryker Corporation.
By Travis Smola
It’s a cool but clear early May afternoon as star Vicksburg tennis player senior Josephine Hosner takes on a Paw Paw opponent in number one singles match.
On the bleachers nearby, her father Jack and grandparents Barbara and Al watch. This tennis thing is a bit more than just an extracurricular activity for the Hosner family. Daughter Joan used to go against the boys in her playing days. And Barbara recalls the moment of extreme disbelief back in 1974 when she found out her other sons, James and John, would face each other in competition for the state singles title.
James, a senior, ended up defeating John, a sophomore, and brought home a state title for Vicksburg.
The Hosner children established their tennis legacy far beyond the courts of the Bulldogs, however. All three boys went to Kalamazoo College. It was there James and John were part of national championship teams in 1978. Jim also earned a national doubles championship that year while partnering with Chris Bussert.
Jack earned a couple of national championships of his own in 1988 and ‘89. Both Jack and James earned 1st Team All-MIAA honors multiple times at Kalamazoo College. Jack earned the honor three times and Jim twice.
Jack and James ended up in Kalamazoo College’s hall of fame. Jack insists all that had no influence in Josephine choosing to go to Kalamazoo College next fall. The family went to visit and Josephine decided it was a good fit.
While she might also play for the Hornets, Jack notes Josephine is academics-focused and has lots of other activities that keep her busy. She was awarded the prestigious Heyl scholarship which covers tuition, books, room and board.
Josephine isn’t the only grandchild of Barbara and Al to play tennis. Joan’s sons also played. Her daughter, Meredith Smola, is currently a sophomore playing for Mattawan’s team.
Al Hosner meanwhile, sits quietly with a look of pride watching his granddaughter compete. Athleticism runs in the family, although he admits his own tennis exploits are not as extensive as the rest of the family. “When I first started, I thought I was going to be good,” he said.
But when his usual opponents upped their practice to four times a week and kept beating him, he knew he was too busy to keep pace. He has a lot of pride in his family and he does still have his four national paddleball championships to look back on.
It’s been a long season for the Bulldogs tennis team with only a couple wins. But Josephine sends the Bulldog faithful home happy with this match. She puts away her opponent in a match-up that far outlasts every other one on the courts that day in May.