Johannesburg-Lewiston dominates Onaway in softball finale
JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston softball team had a senior sendoff that no Cardinal will forget.
The Cardinals, playing in their final two games of the season, made run-saving catches on defense, worked the base paths on offense and played as a team in their Ski Valley Conference doubleheader sweep of visiting Onaway on Tuesday.
It's not a bad way to end the year after losing to Hillman in the Division 4 District quarterfinal last week.
J-L (16-11) used a nine-run first inning, while getting its bench players some on-the-field action, to take down Onaway 13-3 in the first contest.
"I couldn't have asked for a better game to send our seniors off with," J-L coach Ashlie House said. "They all had fun, enjoyed it out there and had high spirits. All of my seniors came out ready to play, and it was probably their best game overall all year. They made throws, had fun and did what they needed to do to get it done."
J-L junior pitcher Allison Ellis threw a complete game, allowed 10 hits, three runs and two walks, and fanned three batters. She also drove in two runs and stole two bases on offense, while junior Emily Aisthorpe finished 2-for-3 with one RBI and four stolen bases.
Senior Sydney McKenney, who finished 2-for-3, started J-L's scoring spree in the first inning by smacking a pair of doubles, scoring two runs and driving in one. Senior Alli Wells nailed a single toward second base that brought in two runs. The Cardinals collected six hits in the inning.
"When they come out and play, they're ready (to make plays)," House said. "It's not unexpected. When they're bats get going, they get going."
J-L scored another three runs in the third inning, including a pair of one-run singles hit by junior Haylie Haase and senior Miranda Kortman. In the fourth inning, Ellis drove in J-L's final run on an Onaway passed ball.
Onaway scored all three of its runs in the fifth inning. It capitalized on two J-L errors to score on an in-the-field home run, while a squeeze bunt allowed an Onaway runner to sprint home two at bats later. A shot to center field accounted for Onaway's final run.
Johannesburg-Lewiston drops District softball opener to Hillman
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston softball team exited the Division 4 District 100 Tournament after falling to visiting Hillman 3-1 in the playoff opener Tuesday.
J-L senior Sydney McKenney ripped a solo home run in the third inning to give the Cardinals an early lead and their only score of the game.
However, Hillman loaded the bases in the fourth inning and scored off a walk and an overthrown ball to third base. The Tigers then notched one insurance run in the fifth to seal the District win.
“It was a battle back and forth, but we had one walk and an error that cost us the game,” J-L coach Ashlie House said.
Emily Aisthorpe added one hit for the Cardinals, while junior pitcher Allison Ellis faced 28 batters in seven innings, struck out five and walked one.
J-L (14-11, 9-5 Ski Valley Conference) concludes its season with a conference doubleheader against visiting Onaway on Tuesday, a bittersweet way for the Cardinals to finish the year.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better season,” House said. “A majority of the games that we lost were either close or due to other factors. I saw our team progress from the beginning of the year to now with their intensity, thinking and by becoming smarter and more aggressive players.”
The Cardinals graduate four starters, including key contributors in McKenney, Miranda Kortman and Julia Nieman. Standout players such as Ellis, Aisthorpe and Haylie Haase will return next season, but there is no question how much the core seniors impacted this year’s team.
“I’m losing four of my starting seniors,” House said. “However, I’m getting quite a few players back who are looking good for next year, especially my freshmen who will fill in at important spots.
“The seniors are going to be hard to replace but there is room for people to step up. They are going to be greatly missed and have tough shoes to fill, but I’ve watched the girls coming up and will be able to work with them over the summer to fill those shoes.”
House will see those replacements firsthand this summer during off season workouts.
“We’re going to target their positions so that they can be focused on that,” House said. “That’ll help them prepare for next year. We’ll get the same win-loss record or even better, if they come out ready to play and work in the off season.”
At the beginning of the season, House, 23, hoped her team would finish .500 or better, and the Cardinals did just that, something the first-year coach appreciated about her transition into head coaching.
“(This season) was a phenomenal experience and I enjoyed it a lot,” she said. “I’ve always liked leadership type of positions and always wanted to coach.
“By getting that opportunity, it was really great and I was really blessed to have a great bunch of girls to work with who are respectful and love the game. They knew how to make it fun which made it more enjoyable, too.”
Harbor Springs swept J-L 15-4 and 13-9 during a non conference doubleheader last Friday.
Nieman drove in two runs during the series, Aisthorpe collected two hits and two RBIs and McKenney added two runs and one hit.
Johannesburg-Lewiston sprints past Forest Area in softball doubleheader
FIFA LAKE – The Johannesburg-Lewiston softball team used extra base hits to mercy host Fife Lake Forest Area 18-0 and 20-0 in a Ski Valley Conference doubleheader Monday.
J-L junior pitcher Allison Ellison faced nine batters and struck out seven to help the Cardinals win the first game.
Ellis also drove in three runs on offense, while seniors Sydney McKenney and Miranda Kortman each posted a triple. Junior Emily Aisthorpe recorded two hits, a double and drove in four runs.
McKenney smacked an in-the-field home run to pace J-L in the second game.
Kortman had three RBIs, Ellis scored four runs and had two RBIs while also facing 11 batters, striking out six and allowing one hit.
Pair of home runs lift Cardinals past Rogers City in softball action
JOHANNESBURG - A pair of home runs highlighted Johannesburg-Lewiston's night in a non conference doubleheader it split with visiting Rogers City on Tuesday.
Rogers City downed J-L 10-5 in the first game, despite Cardinal junior slugger Emily Aisthorpe smacking two doubles and making it home once.
J-L senior Miranda Kortman posted a two-run double, and junior Allison Ellis drove one batter home with a double.
Ellis also struck out four batters and allowed nine hits as pitcher.
Senior Sydney McKenney and Ellis each hit one solo home run apiece to help J-L defeat Rogers City 5-3 in the second game.
Pitching in the night cap, Ellis fanned three and gave up three hits.
Central Lake sweeps Johannesburg-Lewiston in softball doubleheader
JOHANNESBURG – The Central Lake softball team defeated host Johannesburg-Lewiston 7-0 and 4-2 in a Ski Valley Conference doubleheader on Thursday.
J-L junior pitcher Allison Ellis allowed four hits, two earned runs and struck out six batters in the first game. Sydney McKenney, Haylie Haase, Miranda Kortman, Faith Bartle, and Ellis each recorded one hit apiece on offense.
Ellis gave up three hits, one earned run and fanned six to lead J-L in the second game. McKenney smacked a triple and drove in one run, while Emily Aisthorpe and Bartle each posted one hit.
Johannesburg-Lewiston goes yard against Pellston in softball doubleheader
PELLSTON – The Johannesburg-Lewiston softball team used effective hitting to cruise past host Pellston in a Ski Valley Conference doubleheader on Monday.
J-L senior Miranda Kortman smacked a home run and senior Sydney McKenney recorded two doubles and a triple to help the Cardinals defeat Pellston 7-0 in the first game.
Juniors Emily Aisthorpe and Allison Ellis each recorded one hit and two RBIs apiece, while junior Haylie Haase notched one RBI and one run.
Ellis also pitched six innings, struck out six batters and walked six to earn the no hitter.
"This is by far their best performance I have seen from them so far this season," J-L coach Ashlie House said. "If they play like this, they’ll make it through districts and throughout tournament play."
J-L's bats were just as devastating in the second game as the Cardinals downed Pellston 18-4 in the nightcap.
Ellis led J-L with two doubles, three RBIs and three runs, McKenney added three hits, one RBI and four runs, and Haase posted one hit, two RBIs and three runs.
Aisthorpe recorded her first home run of the season and finished with a double and three runs.
"We do a lot with batting practice," House acknowledged. "I have four girls who've hit home runs over the fence already this season. It’s neat that there’s a variety. It’s not just one girl who can hit a home run on our team."
Ellis also helped J-L's effort defensively by pitching six innings, allowing three runs and one walk, and striking out one batter.
J-L (10-4, 6-2) hosts Central Lake for a conference showdown at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Johannesburg-Lewiston sweeps Bellaire in softball doubleheader
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston softball team swept visiting Bellaire in a Ski Valley Conference doubleheader on Monday.
J-L junior pitcher Allison Ellis pitched a no hitter to help the Cardinals defeat Bellaire 13-0 in the first game. She struck out nine batters in the contest.
Senior Sydney McKenney finished with a triple and one RBI.
J-L beat Bellaire 14-3 in the second game as Ellis fanned 10 and allowed only one hit.
Ellis also hit a double and had one RBI on offense, while McKenney had two hits, two RBIs and scored two runs. Junior Emily Aisthorpe added a double and one RBI.
J-L (8-4, 4-2) hosts Onaway at 4:30 p.m. before hosting the Val Kapture tournament at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Johannesburg-Lewiston splits doubleheader with Mancelona in softball
MANCELONA – Johannesburg-Lewiston junior pitcher Allison Ellis fanned 11 batters to help the Cardinals’ softball team defeat host Mancelona 20-10 in Game 1 of a softball doubleheader on Thursday.
The Cardinals trailed 5-1 before scoring five runs in the third inning, seven in the sixth and six in the seventh to grab the win.
J-L junior slugger Emily Aisthorpe finished with three hits, two triples and scored two runs, senior Miranda Kortman posted two hits and two runs, and junior Haylie Haase earned two RBIs on a bunt.
Mancelona defeated J-L 5-2 in the second game which was shortened because of darkness.
The Ironmen scored four runs in the first inning to take a commanding lead. J-L scored one run in each of the first and fourth innings.
Ellis threw three strikeouts and faced 18 batters in the four-inning contest.
Johannesburg-Lewiston softball team wins doubleheader against visiting Ellsworth
JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg-Lewiston softball team defeated visiting Ellsworth 11-1 and 9-2 in a doubleheader on Wednesday.
J-L junior pitcher Allison Ellis allowed two hits and fanned 11 batters in Game 1.
Julia Nieman paced the Cardinals on offense with two hits, two RBIs and one triple, while senior Miranda Kortman hit an in-the-field home run that garnered two RBIs.
“My team is playing with more confidence and are being more aggressive base running and with infield plays,” J-L coach Ashlie House said. “They’re not afraid of throwing the ball, and they have a better mentality when they’re out there. Our hitting has improved, and our bunting has come a long ways, too.”
Senior slugger Sydney McKenney led J-L with two runs, a triple and a stolen base in Game 2. Haylie Haase added three stolen bases and one RBI.
Ellis again was lights out as she struck out nine batters and allowed only three hits.
“I was very happy with Allison,” House said. “She’s done very, very well. I’m excited for her and hope she keeps pushing through because we need her in there.”
J-L (5-3) visits Mancelona at 4:30 p.m. before hosting Bellaire at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
St. Mary, Johannesburg-Lewiston softball teams split doubleheader
JOHANNESBURG – The St. Mary and Johannesburg-Lewiston softball teams split a doubleheader in down pouring rain on Monday night.
St. Mary junior Savannah Sullivan smacked a two-run home run in the third inning to lift the Snowbirds over J-L 9-4.
The two teams carried a 2-2 tie into the third until St. Mary senior Kari Borowiak sprinted home after a Cardinals’ error. With Katie Rutkowski on base, Sullivan’s shot gave St. Mary a three-run lead.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” J-L coach Ashlie House said. “We lost our rhythm when the rain started to come down hard.
“The ball got slippery and the girls got a couple of errors. We had to get the feeling of throwing the ball when it was wet. By the time we got out of that inning, it was tough to play catch up.”
The Snowbirds added five insurance runs in the fifth inning to pull away with the win.
Borowiak led St. Mary with two hits and made it on base during all four of her at bats. Caylee Lawnichak added two hits, and Gabby Schultz hit a double.
J-L’s bats came alive in the second game, as the Cardinals took down St. Mary 7-6 in a close contest.
J-L senior Erin Kortman finished with three hits and two RBIs, and sophomore Faith Bartle had two hits and three RBIs.
Borowiak, Schultz, Lawnichak, and Averi Bebble paced St. Mary with two hits apiece, while Sullivan, Rutkowski and Danica Bebble each had one.
St. Mary (1-1) visits Fife Lake Forest Area at 4:30 p.m. Thursday before hosting Indian River Inland Lakes at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
Johannesburg-Lewiston (5-3) visits Mancelona at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and hosts Bellaire at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
Allison Ellis throws two no hitters as Johannesburg-Lewiston takes down Alanson in softball
JOHANNESBURG – Johannesburg-Lewiston junior pitcher Allison Ellis threw a pair of no hitters as the Cardinals shut out visiting Alanson in a softball doubleheader on Thursday.
Ellis threw 11 strikeouts en route to helping J-L defeat Alanson 5-0 in the first game.
“Allison Ellis did phenomenal for us,” J-L coach Ashlie House said. “That really got the girls’ energy going. She had two no hitters and a lot of strikeouts. She made the infielders’ and outfielders’ jobs really easy.”
The Cardinals scored four runs in the third inning to take a commanding lead. They finished with eight hits in the contest.
Senior Sydney McKenney hit a double and had one RBI, while Ellis also had a double.
“We had great team atmosphere and even the girls in the dugout were very encouraging,” House said.
J-L used 19 hits on offense to take down Alanson 14-0 in the second game. The team got off to a fast start, scoring seven runs in the first inning and four in the second and fourth innings, respectively.
McKenney and Ellis each smacked one home run apiece over the fence. Ellis finished with four RBIs, and junior Emily Aisthorpe recorded one hit.
House said she worked with the Cardinals in practice prior to the game on garnering the most out of their sluggers who get on base.
“Before the game against Alanson, I really worked with them on being aggressive with base running,” she said. “We were actually able to get out on the field and practice. We were able to get into the cage a lot more, and their confidence went up a lot more.”
The Cardinals showed impeccable improvement since facing Hillman in their first doubleheader of the year. Hillman defeated J-L 15-0 and 12-6 last week.
“It’s a complete turnaround, and they’re coming out with more confidence in themselves,” House said. “They’re learning how every little aspect of the game is crucial to getting a run in. It takes a team to win, and I saw that tonight.”
J-L (2-2) hosts St. Mary at 4:30 p.m. Monday before hosting Ellsworth at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Johannesburg-Lewiston falls in first doubleheader of season
HILLMAN – The Johannesburg-Lewiston softball team lost in a doubleheader to host Hillman 15-0 and 12-6 in the season opener Friday.
In the first game, Sydney McKenney had the only hit for the Cardinals, while Allison Ellis stole one base after being walked.
The Cardinals played better in the second game. They carried a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning. Hillman closed the game with a six-run inning for the win.
McKenney led the Cardinals in the second game as well. She scored two runs in the first inning and finished with two hits, two RBIs and three runs. Ellis recorded two hits and two runs, and Erin Kortman and Faith Bartle had one hit and one run apiece. Bartle also added one RBI, while Emily Aisthorpe hit a double for one RBI.
J-L (0-2) hosts Alanson, weather permitting, at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
House pieces together J-L just in time for start of season
JOHANNESBURG – When former coach Mark Peppin abruptly stepped down before the season, it put the Johannesburg-Lewiston softball team in a tough position.
The school was forced to quickly search for a new coach after the season had already started. When the Cardinals finally hired rookie coach Ashlie House, the team only practiced twice before it left for spring vacation.
The Cardinals return a lot of experienced talent. They’ll rely on junior Allison Ellis as their ace pitcher, while House expects Haylie Haase to be the team’s vocal leader at third base.
They also return seniors Sydney McKenney at center field and Erin Kortman at second.
“Those girls are probably our biggest leaders,” House said. “Everyone else will step up, but they’re our main leaders.
“We’ll rely on Ally’s pitching, and Haylie as a great leader. She always has a positive influence and attitude. Erin has a great work ethic, so hopefully other girls will see that. Sydney is very respectful, and I can rely on her a lot, too.”
With eight underclassmen on the team, there will be opportunities for a younger player to win a starting job early in the year.
House predicts sophomore Faith Bartle to be one of those players who makes a giant leap this season. Bartle will rotate at second and shortstop to start the year.
“All of the girls have potential, but I have big expectations for Faith Bartle,” House said. “Last year as a freshman, she got some playing time under Peppin. She’ll get some playing time from me.”
As far as play on the field, House said her team excels defensively. She also said the team plays with a lot of unity.
However, one of their weaknesses may be hitting at the beginning of the year. With only a handful of practices under their belt, the Cardinals are still learning how to properly bunt and swing at the ball.
“I think we have a solid group with infield,” she said. “We also have a really good pitcher in Ally Ellis. The biggest strength is their closeness. They’re always laughing and are pretty close together.”
“A weakness for us is that we’re still learning the new techniques that I’m bringing to the table. We’re bunting and doing different things that they’ve never really worked on before I got here.”
As a first-year coach, House has tempered expectations for the team. She understands a lot of learning must take place this season, and that sentiment reflected in her answer when asked about the team’s outlook.
“I expect to finish over .500,” she said. “To finish .500, we’ll need heart coming in.
“They have to be mentally prepared and focused. They’ll have to do it for themselves because I can’t do it for them. The talent and skill level is there. They just have to believe in themselves. Once they come together as a team, they’ll be pretty tough to beat.”
When J-L visits Hillman at 4:30 p.m. Friday for the season opener, House will only have seven practices as the head coach under her belt, nearly two weeks fewer than other area coaches.
However, the team has a core group of experienced leaders. They shouldn’t look like a team that just met their coach for the first team when they take the field Friday.
Softball: New J-L coach Ashlie House will use passion and 'Cardinal pride' to lead program
JOHANNESBURG – When Mark Peppin stepped down as Johannesburg-Lewiston’s softball coach this winter, it put athletic director Joe Smokevitch in a tough position.
Smokevitch needed to hire a coach who was full of passion, intelligence, and, most importantly, is a strong leader.
He found each of those attributes in new Cardinals softball coach Ashlie House, a 2009 J-L graduate and former basketball and softball standout in the Ski Valley Conference.
“When I played for J-L, I played basketball and softball,” she said. “Now those are my two loves, and I really had Cardinal pride.
“I’ve always thought it’d be nice to come back and coach for them one day to get experience. They gave me so much going out, and I wanted to return the favor. I want to give something back to the program.”
House, 22, recently graduated from Spring Arbor University. While she was in college, she played for the women’s basketball team and was an assistant to the softball program. She was a double major and graduated with a bachelor in science in health and exercise science and psychology.
“I’ve been subbing at the school, and my mom works there,” she said of J-L. “I have a bunch of connections there as well.
“Someone told me the job opened up and said I’d be good at it. They said I should apply, so I did. The big factor in applying was I love working with that age group, especially high school students and young adults.”
House has admirable aspirations for the softball team. In the short term, she hopes for immediate success, but it’s the future of the program, athletes and school she hopes to positively impact.
“My expectations are to get the program better every year,” she said. “Not only that, it’s not all about softball. I care for each one of those girls. I want them to not only learn how to play the sport, but to love the sport, play as a team in unity and have fun while working hard.”
Several fans will criticize House’s age and say it’ll be a challenge for her to overcome it. She doesn’t see coaching in that light. She only sees her age as an advantage.
“A lot of people are supporting me and encouraging me,” she said. “They believe in me, and you know what? I believe in myself, too. I never thought of my age as a challenge. I don’t see it as a weakness, and it’s not a limitation.
“I actually look at it as a strength. I’m excited for what the year brings, and I can bring a lot of energy. I’m at a point in my life where I can give all of my attention to those girls.”
House only sees one challenge to coaching J-L’s softball team, and a lot of area coaches with smaller rosters would love to have her challenge.
“The biggest challenge is that we have a big team,” she said. “We have a lot of girls who have come out for it, so it’s definitely going to be difficult dealing with playing time.”
This will be House’s first time as a varsity head coach. In the past, she’s been an assistant basketball coach and has coached Little League and sixth grade basketball.
However, she said most of her coaching experience comes from being a resident assistant in college.
“Not that it was a coaching position, but I did manage and lead 27 girls,” she said. “That’s just like coaching, because I was their life coach. I had to follow through on disciplinary actions, schedule events and different things like that.
“That gave me experience with leading a large number of girls and being accountable for each of them.”
House also believes her experience from mission trips have helped develop her leadership skills.
“Some (mission trips), I’ve helped lead, and you’re leading groups there, too,” she said. “It’s not just about coaching sports. I’ve just had a lot of life coaching experiences.”
House is excited to be back in J-L and said it was her faith that led her back home and into coaching.
“I am a woman of faith, and I felt called back to J-L,” she said. “I felt called to some kind of head coaching position. My gift is leadership and leading youths. By my faith, I just followed the lord’s calling. By his grace, and for his glory, I will coach.”
As a senior guard on J-L’s basketball team in 2009, House was named All-Ski Valley Conference and All-County First Team. She helped the Cardinals (25-1) appear in the Class D state semifinal against Marine City Cardinal Mooney at Eastern Michigan University that season.
She was also a standout softball player who was recognized by the conference as First Team in 2008 and Honorable Mention in 2007.
When House isn’t substitute teaching or spending time with her family, she enjoys going to church and leading her youth group.
“I’m very people oriented, and I love hanging out with my friends and having a good time,” she said. “I have a lot of my family members who live around this area.”
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