Tecumseh wins Division II state championship
Winning a state title and making it look easy has teams across Michigan talking about Tecumseh High School’s varsity softball program being as solid as they come after the Indians picked up their third Division II championship on Saturday, June 15, in Battle Creek in dominating fashion.
The weather looked threatening early in the game but it had nothing on the Indians as they secured a 5-1 victory against Saginaw Swan Valley for the title. While the stormy clouds passed by after a few innings Tecumseh’s bats struck like lightning while Maves’ pitches blew away just about everything standing in her path.
“We thought coming into quarters that we were going to run into a buzz saw pitcher somewhere down the road... Turns out that we had the buzz saw pitcher. She was the best here, flat out,” said first year head Tecumseh coach Jeff Nowak.
After striking out Swan Valley’s final batter, Maves and her catcher Katie Martin ran to each other and hugged while the rest of the team swarmed around them forming a giant tornado in front of the pitcher’s circle. The Indian’s coaches did the same thing with head coach Jeff Nowak grabbing his assistants, Mark Rowe and Paul Kane and the three spinning around hugging before joining the rest of the team.
Tecumseh earned the title with Maves pitching solid as a rock in the state finals, giving up only two runs in three games while recording 34 strikeouts. She pitched against Swan Valley in the title final and shut out Livonia Ladywood the day before in the semifinal for an 8-0 victory.
“It just feels amazing,” said Maves. “I was relaxed out there. I wasn’t nervous at all. I think that’s what got me through it.”
Livonia Ladywood defeated Swan Valley 4-0 the year before in the state championship final.
“She’s just been awesome,” said Nowak of Maves in the circle. “She hits corners, her screwball and rise ball the last three weeks have been fantastic, lights out.”
The Indians, honorable mention recipients in the Division 2 poll, defeated No. 1 ranked Stevensville Lakeshore 5-1 in the state quarterfinals on Tuesday, June 11, to get rolling in the state tournament.
In the championship game against Swan Valley, the Indians put a run on the scoreboard in the third inning with Kelsea Kaliszuk tagging an RBI single to send home Clair Burnett, who bunted safely as the Indians’ leadoff batter.
Tecumseh scored again in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and one out on the board. Katie Martin hit a ground out that scored McKenzie Rowe before the Viking’s starting pitcher, Courtney Reinhold, finally recorded the final out of the inning.
The first time the Vikings even touched Maves was in the sixth inning when Kelli Halvin recorded a hit.
After a scoreless sixth inning, the Indians added three huge security runs in the seventh inning. Rowe got the Tribe rolling in the final inning with a leadoff single in the top of the inning and Kaliszuk was walked to follow. Kelsey Rendell hit a double to score both runners and give Tecumseh a 4-0 lead with no outs recorded.
Martin then bunted safely, putting runners on the corners, and Hill recorded an RBI single for a 5-0 Tecumseh lead.
Hill produced some key hits during the tournament and played a big part in Tecumseh winning its third state title.
“She’s batting just a hair under five hundred,” said Nowak. “From yesterday and Tuesday, she was a great person in the middle of the lineup. And, Katie Martin right in front of her had some great bunts this week. Rendell, Kaliszuk, Rowe, Mattie Wright, I mean, you go down the lineup and its a hard out.”
Reinhold and the Vikings closed the inning with no further damage however they had to turn around and once again face Maves when at the plate.
Reegan Flattery recorded a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh inning and reached third safely when Paige Churchfield drilled Maves in the mitt with the ball as the next batter. Maves shook it off, picked up the ball and overthrew it to first, however the runner was picked off when trying to steal second. Martin tried to pick off the Viking’s runner at third base and the ball was missed, allowing the Vikings to score a run.
Maves simply struck out the final two batters to end all Viking hopes and secure the title.
“I would call it a dream season,” said Nowak. “I’m going to be floating on a few clouds for a while.”
The Indians finished their historic state championship season with an overall record of 33-5-3.
“To be honest, none of this is possible without my two varsity assistants, Mark Rowe and Paul Kane,” said Nowak. “They are loyal, trustworthy and hard working. Without those two guys this doesn’t happen.”