State's best softball talent gathers: Area stars enjoy 'last blast'

Geoff Kimmerly (Lansing State Journal)

7/23/09- Lansing, MI Every player's future college team was announced as she came to bat during Wednesday's Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association All-Star Games at Ranney Park.

Headed to NAIA Indiana Tech in part because of its criminal justice program, St. Johns Keeley Mills is headed to a smaller destination than many of her All-Star teammates and opponents. But she proved again that she can hit with all of them.

Mills had the first hit of the Division 2 game - a fourth-inning single - and two of the game's eight hits total in helping the White to a 2-1 victory.

"It's the best of the best out here. You don't get the little bloop hits," Mills said. "I wanted to come out and prove that I deserved to be here as much as anyone else. I think I held my own."

Mills, a catcher, hit .562 this spring in earning an all-state honorable mention. Wednesday's games were only for graduated seniors, with an eight-inning game for each division.

The area had its largest representation in Division 2, which also featured Miss Softball winners Jenna Ignowski, a Niles pitcher signed with Eastern Michigan, and Stevensville Lakeshore shortstop Amy Knapp, who has signed with Michigan.

Mills was joined on the White team by her St. Johns coach Barry Palmer and Owosso third baseman MacKenzie Chrenka. Williamston pitcher Aleksa Sedlak and Lakewood shortstop Chelsey Dow played for the Red.

Mid-Michigan players were a big part of the action in the bottom of the seventh inning. After Sedlak struck out the first two batters, Mills - who was her catcher during the area all-star game last month - knocked a single to centerfield. But Dow caught a pop fly to end the inning.

With her team up 1-0, Sedlak was in line to earn the win in the bottom of the eighth. But after a walk, she fell into some bad luck. After a double scored the tying run, the ensuing throw from the outfield rolled into the third-base dugout, scoring another run and ending the game.

Sedlak and Chrenka finished 0-for-2, while Dow was 0-for-1 with a walk. Sedlak will go to Michigan State this fall but will not play softball, although she has the ability to play at other college levels. Chrenka has signed with Lansing Community College and Dow with Davenport.

Like Chrenka, Dansville's Devin Culham was also playing on her future LCC home field at Ranney, which hosted the game for the first time since 2005. Culham struck out three and gave up three runs in three innings as the starting pitcher for her squad. She also had a single in the second inning and finished 1-for-3 overall although the White fell 6-3.

The game also allowed her a final opportunity to play for her high school coach, Mick Ream, who was co-coach of the White team.

"I thought it was over after the local game, but after he called me and told me he was coaching me again, I was excited. It was kinda like a last blast," Culham said. "I kinda felt like I had a homecourt advantage (at Ranney)."

Portland St. Patrick's Cristen Stiffler also played in the Division 4 game, going 0-for-2 while playing first base for the Red team.

Laingsburg's Mickey Putnam and Bath's Lauren Tubandt both also went 0-for-2 in the Division 3 game, which Putnam's Red team won 4-1. The Red team was coached in part by Laingsburg's Jeff Cheadle.

The Division 1 game also was close, with the White scoring both runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to claim a 2-0 win. No area players participated in that game.



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