Vaughan guides NOYSA All-Stars to state title

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Kolbey Nelson has been coaching Leah Vaughan for three years, but he’s never seen the young hurler throw a game like she threw on Tuesday.

Vaughan tossed a complete-game one-hitter, striking out 10 batters, as the North Ottawa Youth Softball Association U-12 Major All-Star team capped off an improbable run with a commanding 7-0 win over St. Clair to wrap up the Little League state championship.

“This was undoubtedly her best performance,” Nelson said of Vaughan, who faced the minimum number of batters in the contest. The only batter who managed a hit off her was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.

“She came up big-time. She was locating pitches well, and she’s just a hard thrower. When you have a hard thrower who can hit the corners, plus we had the team scouted so we knew who were their low-ball hitters and who were high ball hitters. She followed through with the game plan and that made her really successful.”

The victory over St. Clair wraps up a weeklong tournament for the NOYSA squad, which is competing in Little League for the first time. The tournament included a handful of close games, including three walk-off wins.

But on Tuesday, the late-inning heroics weren’t necessary. That’s because the NOYSA squad, which is made up primarily of girls from Grand Haven and Spring Lake, raced out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back.

“We had a two-out rally in the first inning,” Nelson said. “Madelyn Nelson got a hit, stole second, then Lindsey Paggeot drove her in. Then Molly Poel’s hit scored Lindsey, and we never looked back.”

NOYSA scored three more runs in the third inning, then added single runs in the fourth and fifth. The team banged out 11 total hits.

Nelson had the hot bat for NOYSA as she finished with three hits and three RBIs. Poel and Kileah Rymal each had two hits, while Paggeot and Kelly Olthof each drove in a run.

With the victory, NOYSA not only claims the Michigan state championship but also earns the right to represent Michigan in the Little League regional tournament, which begins this weekend in Indianapolis.

“Everyone went home to do some laundry, we’re going to practice on Thursday, and we leave town at 7 a.m. Friday,” Nelson said. “Our first game is noon on Saturday against Ohio. Our pool is Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.”

The NOYSA team plays Saturday and Sunday, then has Monday off before playing Tuesday and Wednesday.

The top two teams out of pool play advance to Thursday’s semifinals. The regional championship game will be played later Thursday.

“I feel good having that day off in the middle,” Nelson said. “After playing two days, we have Monday off, so we’ll have all our pitchers available.

“I like our chances. Michigan has always been a well-represented state in Little League. If we’re good enough to get out of Michigan, we’re good enough to compete with those other states.”


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