Hillman Eyeing Return to State Finals

HILLMAN – On the heels of its historic 2015 season, the Hillman softball program is determined to make a return trip to East Lansing this spring.

After spending the previous nine years as a Hillman assistant, Rich Price assumed head coaching responsibilities in 2015 and promptly guided the Tigers to their first regional championship since 1999 and first state semifinals appearance since 1996 via a 1-0 extra innings quarterfinal win over Inland Lakes.

"That was huge, especially as a first-year coach. I could never have dreamt up nothing like that,” Price said. “It was big for the team, and this year, we’re just taking it one game at a time. Of course we’d like to get back there, but we’re young this year.”

After graduating only three seniors (Courtney Sauer, Eden Hunt, Alissa Jones), and with the likes of juniors Vanessa Schook and Morgan Dove returning in the circle, the Tigers are eyeing the school’s first state championship since the baseball program captured three Class D state titles in the 1990s.

"It would mean a lot to make history for the school and the community, not just for us softball teams,” Dove said.

"Our goal is to make it just as far as last year, if not further, and just take every game one step at a time,” Schook added.

Hillman enters 2016 ranked seventh in the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association preseason poll after finishing seventh a year ago.

"I’ve been doing this, going on 14 years, and this is by far the most excited group that I’ve had,” Price said. “They all just love to play, they love to play together and they’re eager to get out there and see what they can do."

The Tigers are scheduled to open their season Saturday at the Au Gres-Sims tournament.