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Regionals to feature three defending state champions

By: Tom Markowski, June 10, 2016, 2:40 pm

Farmington Hills – Warren Regina is the lone 2015 champion that did not make it out of district play leaving the door open for at least a handful of teams that have a legitimate shot at replacing the Saddlelites as Division 1 champions.

Farmington Hills Mercy, Macomb Dakota, Mattawan and Rockford appear to be the top teams remaining but other teams like Holt, Midland and Byron Center all could get to the semifinals at East Lansing on Thursday.

Mercy (38-2) reached the semifinals last season before falling to Caledonia, which was also a casualty in the districts. Mercy is led by Abby Krzywiecki, a Miss Softball candidate, who recently set the state record for home runs in a season with 19. She also has 87 RBI. On the mound for the Marlins is Andrea Elmore who burst on the scene last season. This year she’s 26-1 with a 1.22 ERA.

“I have some good table-setters, too,” Mercy coach Alex Lesko said. “My No. 9 hitter is so good that I was thinking about moving her up in the lineup.”

That player is Mary Reeber, a junior right fielder, who is batting .360.

Mercy will play White Lake Lakeland in a regional semifinal at Novi.

All regionals are scheduled for Saturday.

Wayland Union is the defending champion in Division 2 and it will face Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern at Hope College. Other top teams in this division are Saginaw Swan Valley and Vicksburg, teams that each lost in a regional final a season ago.

In Division 3 and Division 4 it would be a shocker if either defending champion did not repeat.

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (22-5) is led by one of the state’s top players, junior Meaghen Beaubien. Beaubien was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and she’s just a junior. Beaubien is 20-1 and has pitched 150 innings with an astounding 308 strikeouts.

St. Mary C.C. will play Grass Lake next at Adrian Madison. Grass Lake upset Napoleon in the districts. The Kestrels’ top challengers appear to be Clinton, Millington and Shepherd.

Unionville-Sebewaing Area is the defending champion in Division 4 and it will play Brown City next at Kingston. Nikki Bauer is one of the state’s top pitchers and she signed with Stanford. Bauer is 20-7 but don’t be put back by those losses. USA coach Steve Bohn upgraded his schedule this season in an attempt to better prepare his team for the tournament.

Kalamazoo Christian, which lost to USA in the final last season, could meet up with USA in a state semifinal on June 17.