Connect with us


Seven from West Michigan Conference earn 2023 first-team all-state softball honors

Two from Oakridge, two from Ravenna, three from Holton get the nod; four more from league are honorable mention.

Softball is alive and well in the West Michigan Conference, especially when you’re talking about the teams at the top.

WMC Lakes Division champion Oakridge, WMC Rivers Division champ Ravenna and WMC Rivers runner-up Holton placed multiple players on the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association all-state teams for the 2023 season.

Even more impressively, each of those squads had more than one player earn first-team accolades.

Oakridge sophomore third baseman Brenna Cabrera and junior first baseball Madison Clark got the first-team nod in Division 2. Ravenna senior shortstop Emma Gillard and sophomore third baseman Emma Herremans were first-team selections in Division 3. Holton junior shortstop Abbie Fowler, junior first baseman Ryann Robins and sophomore catcher Grace Thompsen earned the first-team distinction in Division 4.

Honorable-mention accolades went to Oakridge junior shortstop Kaelinn Jozsa in Division 2; Ravenna sophomore first baseman Addison Gillard and freshman utility Emily Postema in Division 3; and Holton sophomore pitcher Kenzie Greene in Division 4.

Oakridge’s Brenna Cabrera makes contact during the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Tier 1 tournament finals against Ravenna Saturday, May 6, 2023, at Reeths-Puffer’s Legacy Field in Muskegon, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Cabrera provided a huge lift for Oakridge this season with a team-best .544 batting average. She clubbed 11 home runs and 15 doubles to go with 61 RBIs and 65 runs scored. Her slugging percentage was .965. Defensively, Cabrera posted an .893 fielding percentage with 19 putouts and 48 assists in 75 total chances.

The left-handed-hitting Clark was steady for Oakridge with a .452 batting average, including seven home runs, four triples and nine doubles for a .783 slugging percentage. She drove in 46 runs and scored 46. Clark’s defensive numbers were impressive, as she boasted a .986 fielding percentage with 203 putouts and two assists in 208 total chances.

Oakridge’s Madison Clark connects with the ball during a game against Montague Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Montague, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Jozsa hit 15 home runs for an Oakridge squad that set a school record for homers in a season with 50. The CatchMark SportsNet WMC Player of the Year finalist also had nine doubles and two triples for a 1.029 slugging percentage. Jozsa finished with a .461 batting average to go with 54 RBIs and 69 runs scored. In the pitcher’s circle, the right-hander was 17-4 with a 3.20 ERA to go with 83 strikeouts and 45 walks in 98 1/3 innings.

Oakridge finished the season with a 29-10 record, going unbeaten in the WMC Lakes Division. The Eagles have won six straight WMC titles, going 101-1 in league play during that run. They captured their sixth Division 2 district title in seven years.

Oakridge’s Kaelinn Jozsa is shown during a game against Montague Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Montague, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Ravenna assembled perhaps the greatest season in program history with a 36-6 record and Division 3 state semifinals appearance. It’s a school record for victories in a season. The Bulldogs went unbeaten in the WMC Rivers Division, they captured their second straight Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Tier 1 tournament and Division 3 district titles, and they won a regional championship and quarterfinal game for the first time since 2005. Herremans and Emma Gillard led the way for the Bulldogs.

Gillard shined in every area for the ‘Dogs, including as the ace in the pitcher’s circle, as a left-handed leadoff hitter, on the basepaths and from her shortstop position when not pitching. The CatchMark SportsNet Player of the Year finalist and Ferris State signee hit .608 (76-for-125) with 12 home runs, 10 triples and 14 doubles for a 1.168 slugging percentage. She scored 85 runs, drove in 62 and stole 51 bases. As a right-handed pitcher, Gillard was 16-3 with a 1.97 ERA to go with 107 strikeouts and 11 walks in 92 1/3 innings.

Ravenna’s Emma Gillard rounds the bases after hitting a home run against Oakridge in the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association Tier 1 tournament finals Saturday, May 6, 2023, at Reeths-Puffer’s Legacy Field in Muskegon, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Herremans is a repeat first-team all-stater for Ravenna. The left-handed batter from the No. 3 spot in the lineup led the Bulldogs with a .652 average (75-for-115) after boasting a .622 average as a freshman. She had eight home runs, eight triples and 22 doubles for a 1.191 slugging percentage. Herremans drove in 73 runs and scored 66 while stealing 28 bases. She was the CatchMark SportsNet WMC Player of the Year this spring after being a finalist last season.

Ravenna’s Emma Herremans turns on a pitch for a first-inning home run against Buchanan in a 12-6 Division 3 state quarterfinal victory for the Bulldogs Tuesday, June 13, 2023, at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Addison Gillard, the younger sister of Emma, was very steady in the field, at the plate and in the pitcher’s circle for Ravenna. The cleanup hitter batted .484 (60-for-124) with 16 doubles, six triples and three homers to go with 52 RBIs, 47 runs scored and 23 stolen bases. Defensively, she posted a .977 fielding percentage with 144 putouts and 27 assists. In the circle, the right-hander went 14-3 with a team-best 1.34 ERA to go with 112 strikeouts and 14 walks in 88 2/3 innings.

Ravenna’s Addison Gillard screams with emotion after hitting a bases-clearing triple in the Bulldogs’ 12-6 Division 3 state quarterfinal win over Buchanan Tuesday, June 13, 2023, at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Postema took over the catcher spot down the stretch for Ravenna, but she also played outfield and shortstop. The spunky rookie often sparked the Bulldogs’ lineup from the No. 9 spot, batting .423 (47-for-111) with eight doubles and five triples, plus her lone home run which ignited her team in the regional finals. The speedy Postema scored 59 runs, stole 34 bases and drove in 24 runs. Her fielding percentage was an impressive .988, as she recorded 130 putouts and 31 assists against only two errors.

Ravenna’s Emily Postema is greeted at home plate by her teammates after her home run sparked the Bulldogs in their regional finals win over Grandville Calvin Christian Saturday, June 10, 2023, in Newaygo, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Holton had another strong season, as the Red Devils made a run to the Division 4 regional finals and closed with a 30-10-1 overall record. Their all-state foursome led the way.

The left-handed Fowler, a speedy leadoff batter and versatile player, is a first-team all-stater for the third straight season. She sparked Holton’s lineup and also played well at shortstop. She was the Red Devils’ No. 2 pitcher, too. Fowler hit .432 this season with 50 hits, including nine doubles, one triple and three home runs. She had 33 RBIs and sported a .903 fielding percentage.

Holton leadoff batter Abbie Fowler lays down a bunt in the Red Devils’ Division 4 regional Saturday, June 10, 2023, in Onekama, Mich. (Courtesy of Dan Packard)

Robins, who also earned first-team all-state honors as a freshman in 2021, was a big-time threat at the plate this season for Holton. She batted .494 with 44 hits, including 11 doubles, one triple and nine home runs. Robins drove in 44 runs. Defensively, she was solid as can be at first base with a .986 fielding percentage. Robins also provided pitching depth for the Red Devils.

Holton’s Ryann Robins rounds first base after hitting a home run that sparked the Red Devils in their late rally against Lake Leelanau St. Mary in a Division 4 regional final Saturday, June 10, 2023, in Onekama, Mich. (Courtesy of Dan Packard)

Thompsen received all-state honorable mention accolades as a freshman last year as a catcher. This season, she secured a first-team spot at the position. She batted .398 with 39 hits, including seven doubles and two triples. Thompsen drove in 32 runs. She was a sturdy backstop for the Red Devils, boasting a glittering .989 fielding percentage.

Holton catcher Grace Thompsen comes out of her crouch to snag a high pitch during a game against Ravenna Wednesday, April 12, 2023, in Ravenna, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

This is the second straight season in which Greene has received all-state honorable mention recognition for Holton. Last year, she got the nod as a utility player. This year, she earned the honor as a pitcher. The right-handed Red Devils ace finished 11-3 with 126 strikeouts. She also had great offensive numbers, batting .442 with 53 hits, including 10 doubles, four triples, six homers and 33 RBIs.

Holton’s Kenzie Greene fires a pitch during a Division 4 regional Saturday, June 10, 2023, in Onekama, Mich. (Courtesy of Dan Packard)

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

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must See

More in Softball