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Holton softball team looks to make state-title history, leave ‘no doubt’

Red-hot Red Devils seeking first state championship for their program as well as first in Muskegon County softball history.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

EAST LANSING — Holton softball coach Kirk Younts recently adopted a team slogan for his Red Devils.

It’s a Swahili term, “bila shaka,” and it means “no doubt.”

Led by Ryann Robins’ monster day at the plate and Kenzie Green’s dominant pitching performance, Holton certainly left no doubt in an 8-0 victory over high-powered Hillman in the Division 4 state semifinals Friday at Michigan State University’s Secchia Stadium.

“They do believe in each other,” Younts said.

“I asked the girls the other day, ‘I want you to finish this sentence for me: I have no doubt because why,’ and they all sent me a text back. Eighty-five to 90 percent of them said it’s because we trust each other and so we have no doubt. We trust each other and they showed it today. They backed each other and they played together and they’re just scrappy and we never give up.”

Now the Red Devils hope to finish their season with authority.

Holton (29-12-1), a winner of 17 straight games, takes on perennial power Unionville-Sebewaing Area (30-11) in the Division 4 state title game at 5:30 p.m. today (Saturday, June 15). The Red Devils are seeking their program’s first state championship as well as the first for any softball team in Muskegon County history.

USA edged Mendon in the other semifinal Friday, 6-5. The Patriots are going for their fifth straight state championship and eighth overall. During their recent run, the 2020 season was canceled because of COVID-19.

“It gives me goosebumps just thinking about (possibly winning a state title), you know, because sports mean so much to Holton, the community, and both of us,” Robins said, gesturing toward Greene. “I think if we went out and shocked the world (today), it would leave a big mark on our program.”

Holton certainly left Hillman stunned. The Tigers (41-3) broke the state’s all-time record for runs scored in a season with 561 but they were shut out by Greene and the Red Devils defense.

Greene, a right-handed junior, scattered four singles, struck out two, and walked none in her complete-game victory.

Meanwhile, Robins powered Holton’s offensive attack. She went 2-for-3, including a two-run single in the second inning to give the Red Devils a 5-0 lead and a three-run home run to right-center in the sixth for the finishing touches on the victory.

It was Robins’ 20th homer of the season and 50th of her career. This is the last hurrah for Robins, a multi-talented senior, who is planning to leave sports behind and study nursing at Ferris State University.

“Ryann is unbelievable. I love her,” Younts said. “She just continues to perform. She doesn’t let the moment get to her. If you were to talk to her, she’s always keeping (the mood relaxed). She’s a joy to coach. I’m going to miss her.”

Lexi Bartolameolli, Sydney McCormick, and Chloe McKee also had two hits apiece for Holton, including a double by Bartolameolli.

This is Holton’s fifth final four trip in Younts’ 10 seasons at the helm, but it’s the Red Devils’ first appearance in the state finals.

“My sisters were on the last team that came here (to the final four in 2021). Ryann was a freshman (then), so just like to help them see that Holton softball can do it is a big deal for me,” Greene said.

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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