Hillman softball claims regional title, breaks state record

Courtesy Photo The Hillman High School softball team poses together after their game Saturday. In the back row, from left to right, are Jonny Zawacki, Hannah Crane, Rich Price, Maddie Oswald, Peyton Banks, Gretchen Weiland, Kendall Gruschke, Cassidy Benac, Jeremy Stepaniak, Brook Linseman, and Jason Weiland. Front row, from left to right, are Elise Flaugher, Autumn Kazyaka, Saige Flaugher, Nicole Barbeau, Sydney Klein, and Aubrey Weiland. Not pictured are team members Autumn Lis and Rylee Lis.

HILLMAN — Hillman continues to dominate and set records on the way to winning a regional championship.

The Hillman softball team entered Saturday’s Division IV regional round as heavy favorites, having steamrolled their way to a district crown the week before.

Saturday was business as usual and even sub-par weather conditions couldn’t slow down the Tigers’ offense, and the rain certainly didn’t crash their hit parade as Hillman defeated Rudyard 12-1 in five innings in the regional semifinal and needed just four innings to dismantle Inland Lakes 17-2 to claim a regional title.

Along with winning a regional championship, Hillman broke a longstanding 31-year single-season record for most runs scored by any team in Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) history.

The Tigers entered the day having already smashed several program records, but this Hillman team etched its name into the MHSAA history books by breaking the single-season record for runs in a season, set in 1993 by Taylor Light and Life Christian High School (543).

Hillman entered Saturday with 520 runs scored as a team on the season. After scoring three in the first and five in the second to take an 8-2 lead, Hillman exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the third inning and history was made when senior Cassidy Benac ripped a two-run single that plated freshman Maddie Oswald and Aubrey Weiland to give the Tigers a 13-2 lead as Benac’s RBI and Oswald’s run was good for the record-breaker.

Benac was three-for-three with five RBIs in the championship game. Gretchen Weiland and Aubrey Weiland each had three hits, with Aubrey Weiland driving in three and scoring three and Gretchen Weiland was dominant in the circle, allowing just two runs on two hits and fanning 10 over four complete innings. Hannah Crane also collected a pair of hits, scored a pair of runs, and had three RBIs in the championship win over Inland Lakes.

Hillman jumped on Rudyard in the semifinal game, scoring six runs in the first inning, and never looked back.

Nicole Barbeau pitched all five innings, allowed one run on one hit, walked two, and struck out nine.

Barbeau continued her historic senior campaign at the plate, going three-for-four with four RBIs and three runs scored and blasted a solo home run off the scoreboard to lead off the top of the second inning and tie her own single-season school record, with her 12th home run of the year.

Saige Flaugher went a perfect three-for-three at the plate scoring a pair of runs and had two RBI. Elise Flaugher had a big two-out, two-run single in the top of the first and scored three runs.

Hillman improves to 39-3 on the season and will travel to Pickford for today’s quarterfinal contest against Hancock at 5 p.m.


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