Sunday, July 18, 2010

Everyone played a big role in Know Mercy's Schnitz Ada Grill Championship Season

It was a season of extremes for Know Mercy.

The team started with high hopes, building on the foundation of 2009’s consolation round championships – both KM1 and KM2 earned the title – and adding new friends to the roster.

But three losses to open the season and a rare tie against rival St. Matthew’s Monsters did not inspire optimism. In fact, Know Mercy limped to the end of the season with just one victory notched in its belt.

But deep down, the coaching hierarchy knew this team was too good to fail. The roster was full of wily veterans, teen-aged phenoms and skilled newcomers. Plus, they had the league’s best uniforms.

Two big things worked in Know Mercy’s favor. First, the reconfigured playoffs allowed the team to cut loose the baggage of the regular season. And, Chad Zollman was recovered from his basketball injury just in time to anchor what was already an improving defense.

Back by solid leather, mound magician Mike Gillis went to work on the hill, working through CTL-ALT-DEL, keeping the Monsters in check in the second round and twirled what might be the first shutout in Know Mercy history in the semi-finals.

That led to the team’s first-ever appearance in the finals, with a confident St. Matthew’s in the opposing dugout.

The top of the order went right to work, Nick Rodammer, Casey Munger-Dunham and Chad all reached and scored.

The Monsters responded with a run in the bottom of the inning, aided by a rather questionable call. But the surging Know Mercy defense put the brakes on any more scoring.

KM padded the lead with three more in the sixth, with Chad, Jamie Norris and Amy Bonjour coming around, and one more in the sixth when Steve Kutz drove home Jason Stevenson.

The team then shut down the beleaguered Monsters in order to claim the first Know Mercy championship, hoisting high the prize plaque and dousing the coach with ice water.

What was neat about the season was that everyone contributed; it was a tough schedule with an unusual number of early starts and games against ringer-laden tournament teams in the upper division.

But everyone remained in good spirits and worked hard, and that all paid off in the end.

Everyone played a role in the big season:

John Basher: Rookie who showed great enthusiasm and gave all in the field – leading to an injured finger that kept him out for the rest of the season. John went two-for-two in the opener, then broke his pinkie with tendon damage in Game 2. Ouch!

Amy Bonjour: Making her Know Mercy debut, the dedicated Amy appeared in every game and practice and was a solid backstop who could hit the ball hard.

Steve Cairns: Might have had his best year at the plate and in the field. He saved the close second-round playoff game against St. Matthews by racing in from deep right-center to grab a flair – belt high -- that would have driven home the go-ahead run. Game Ball Award: Playoff Game 2

Melissa Carrick: Kidnapped by Hoosiers for part of the season, Mel shined at third base, especially in the big playoff double-header, using her rifle arm to nail a runner at the plate and going two-for-two with the bat.

Aaron Dunham: Aaron’s mashing and bashing propelled the team through the first three playoff games. But one play probably saved the run. In a tight second round games against the rival St. Matthew’s Monsters, a rival batter led off the sixth inning by smacking one into the gap and was not content with a double or even a triple. Seeing Mike Gillis backing up third base, the big gun made a break for the plate -- only to find Aaron Dunham waiting for Mel Carick’s relay throw that was right in target.

Melissa Ferens: Melissa’s played with Know Mercy on the sly for at least two years, but made things official in 2010. Making the crazed commute from Holland, she was solid at the plate and in the field, splitting time at second and in the outfield. Drove in two big runs in game that drove team to the finals.

Grant Ferguson: Was an outstanding bat boy and cheerleader, likely led team in cookies consumed.

Niki Ferguson: Female MVP, showed off Pilates-powered muscles and showed command at the plate and in the field. Responsible for one of the best plays of the season, Niki smothered a tough grounder at second, the, while on her belly, backhanded a throw to Jamie Norris at first base to nail a runner. Game Ball Award, Game 8

Mike Gillis: Always a great pitcher, Mike ramped up his game even higher in the final two playoff games. First he toss what might be Know Mercy’s only shutout in Playoff Game 2 against a solid GE team that had beat KM twice before. Then, with the championship hanging in the balance, Gilly allowed one run in the first – after a very disputable call at second base – then absolutely silenced a potent St. Matthews team, clearing a path for a Know Mercy victory. Game Ball Award, Playoffs Game 3

Steve Korb: Steve is dependably stellar in left field, and practically owned the playoffs, especially the double-header. When GE threatened early, Steve squashed their hopes with a Mays-esque, back to the plate grab to end any scoring chance they might have dreamed about. He went four-four at the plate that day, driving home what proved to be the winning run in the nightcap against the Monsters. Game Ball Award: Game 4

Rebecca Kutz:
Made her Know Mercy debut, and sits atop the rankings by going two-for-two in the win against Forest Hills Foods, posting a perfect 1.000 on-base percentage.

Steve Kutz: Steve keeps getting better and better, and can pound the ball with authority!.Drove in big run in championship game.

Mike Light: The professor’s commitment to the Youth of America limited his action. But when available, Mike gave everyone a lesson on how to play leftfield. Game Ball Award, Game 3

Jamie Linari: Know Mercy rookie showed speed on the bases and bravado in the field, playing at least three positions – including third base against a tough opponent in the opener. Game Ball Award, Game 1

Jason Stevenson: Hockey player and marathon runner, Jason added softball to his athletic resume. Jason could smash them harder than anyone, and cemented the regular-season’s lone victory with a double. Game Ball Award: Game 5

Rob Mirque: Rob saw limited action in 2010, but went one-for-two, driving in a big run in the game 4 tie against the Monsters.

Charmayne Mulligan: One inning in the field, one at-bat – and one big injury! Ouch. Charmayne will be back!

Michael Mulligan: Made his return to competitive softball after several years on the shelf. It was clear that Michael knew what he was doing – even if the body wasn’t quite following suit. He broke out against Norman Family Dentistry, but the championship game was his best – going horizontal to make a key play at first base and smashing a line drive hit. Bonus points for making the marathon commute from Battle Creek to get to games in time. Hoo-RAH! Game Ball Award, Game 9

Andrew Murray: Rookie made his softball debut, set record (with Halle) of being the youngest player and led the team in walks, scored a big run in the second playoff game – with a pretty cool slide into third.

Dave “Chipper Skipper” Murray: The coach baked a lot of cookies, ticked off the St. Matthews pitched by gaining key walk to drive in two runs in tie game. Proud to be a part of Know Mercy’s first father-son combination. Game Ball Award, Playoff Finals.

Casey Munger-Dunham: Casey’s on-field skills are legendary. But her off-field contributions are even more impressive. Casey designed and arranged for the fantastic uniforms that are by far the best in the league and she rounded up sponsorship from the Schnitz that kept our share low. Plus she was a sounding board and shoulder to cry on for an occasionally panicking coach.

Jamie Norris: Tadas’ Dad has become a slick-fielding first-sacker to go with his prowess at the stick. If it seemed like Jamie was always on base, it’s because he darn near was, reaching in 15 of 21 at-bats. Amazing. Game Ball Award, Playoff 1

Venta Norris: Dependable Venta used her wheels to beat out multiple throws at first, worked out several walks in key situations and made a big play behind the plate to nail a runner in the first playoff game.

Nick Rodammer: The team’s leadoff hitter – and leading hitter, reaching base an incredible 15 out of 19 times. Nick also shined in the field, asked to share the toughest positions while yearning to play first base – finally getting there in the championship game.

Hannah Ulreich: Rookie made her debut and was solid, making big plays at third base and second base, scored big run in the team’s only regular-season win.

Halle Ulreich: Rookie shares two records, as youngest Know Mecy player – tied with Andrew – and most games played with a non-twin sibling. Fresh off her season at Forest Hills, Halle stepped right in and produced in the field and at the plate. Made big splash in debut, getting team’s first hit and scoring the only run against Victory Club goons. Game Ball Award, Game Seven.

Chad Zollman: A basketball injury kept Chad on the shelf for nearly the entire regular season, but that kept him tanned, rested and ready for the playoff march. Dominating at shortstop, Chad worked with Niki, Casey, Melissa and Hannah to turn double-plays and with Jamie and Michael to pound out runners at first base.

Rachel Zollman: Rachel has a rifle for an arm and a dependable glove in the outfield, but her highlight play of the year involved a first-to-third dash against GE, where she slid so hard into third base that she actually ripped it from its anchor, delaying the game as the umpires tried to figure out how to get the field back together.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


More details to come, but for now, we're celebrating being No. 1!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pitching and defense drive Know Mercy to championship game

Sometimes the first inning can set the tone for the whole game.

GE started Wednesday’s semi-final playoff -- part of the Schnitz Ada Grill Playoff March -- game with runners on second and third and two out, and one of their top guns launched a bomb to deep, deep left field. If that drops, the team easily takes a 2-0 lead and Know Mercy faces digging out of deep hole.

But instead Steve Korb charged deep, going all Willie Mays v. Vick Wertz on the batter, a phenomenal catch that seemed to suck the wind out of GE.

Know Mercy responded in the bottom of the frame with Nick Rodammer leading off with a double Schnitz, then scored when Aaron Dunham smashed a Schnitz through the hole, scoring Nick, who arrived at the plate with a dramatic and dusty slide-dive.

That’s all the team would need, using remarkable defensive skills and Mike Gillis’ pitching prowess to power a 7-0 victory over a very good GE team that had already beaten Know Mercy twice this season.

And it’s a good thing Know Mercy was flashing leather because the 90-degree heat was sopping the strength from the team bats for most of the game.

After the first inning run, the team was quieted until the fourth, when Steve Cairns led off with a Schnitz and scored when Niki Ferguson launched a double Schnitz.

The game broke open in the next frame, when then team’s two youngest players set the stage. Andrew Murray worked out a one-out walk and moved to third in dramatic fashion when Halle Ulerich smacked a double Schnitz.

Steve Kutz then brought two runs home with a Schnitz, as did Melissa Ferens. Then Nick and Aaron again teamed up to put a lucky No. 7 on the scoreboard.

Meanwhile, the defense was in shut-down mode. Chad Zollman, pairing again with Niki and Casey at short and Jamie, Nick and Michael Mulligan at first, was relentless.

One GE batter managed a walk, only to be snuffed out at third by Hannah Ulerich.

Lost in the excitement was a great game by Venta Norris, who not only legged out a Schnitz but made a fine play, racing out from behind the plate to scoop up a ball and follow with a strong throw to first.

All that action sets the stage for next week, when Know Mercy appears in the finals.

The team is already assured second place, but a triumph at 7 p.m. — or in an 8 p.m. game, if necessarily — would allow the team to bask in the glory.

Schnitz Ada Grill Game Ball: Presented to Mike Gillis for spinning a shutout on the hottest day of the year, with both great pitching and fielding.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Perfect playoff double-header for Know Mercy

It was just about a perfect Know Mercy softball day.

Basking in beautiful sunshine, surrounded by a record-number of friends and family and with nearly the full team in the dugout, Know Mercy blasted through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Nick Rodammer smashed a triple Schnitz in the team’s first at-bat against CTL-ALT-DEL, and the team never looked back, completing two games that featured clutch hitting, tight defense, stellar pitching and contributions from everyone.

Nick’s triple opened the door for a 6-run first inning, and the team added three more in the fourth and one in the fifth, leading to a 10-1 lead in the seventh. C-A-D had a short, two-out rally to score a couple dignity runs, but the outcome was never in doubt.

And the team started strong again in the next game against rival St. Matthews Monsters, pushing across five quick runs.

The Monsters bounced right back, answering with five of their own.

That’s where the tight defense and pitching kicked in, shutting down a potent Monster offense while Know Mercy methodically tacked on runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

The team took an 8-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh, and remember that these two squads already played to an 8-8 tie earlier in the season.

Monsters did their best to repeat that scenario. Leading off the sixth inning, one of the team’s big guns smacked one into the gap and was not content with a double or even a triple. Seeing Mike Gillis backing up third base, he made a break for the plate only to find Aaron Dunham waiting for Mel Carick relay throw that was right in target.

The Monsters then showed more life by pushing across two tense runs in the frame before Know Mercy could finally close the door, advancing to the semi-finals, likely against a formidable GE.

Individual highlights:

Jamie Norris is the team’s hottest player, going four-for-four with two big rbi against the Monsters.

Niki Ferguson is en fuego tambien, with two clutch walks and two hits and two runs scored.

Steve Cairns flashed some impressive leather. Playing deep in right-center for one of the main Monsters, Steve raced in to snag a shot that was falling short, grabbing it belt-high and preventing runs from scoring. He was no slouch at the plate, either, again using that blazing speed to score a big run.

Chad Zollman made some amazing plays at short, working with Casey Munger, Hannah Ulerich and Niki to turn several double plays and key force-outs. He also smashed a Triple Schnitz and two Schnitzes, scoring three times.

Steve Korb was four-for-four on the day with the big Double Schnitz that drove home what proved to be the deciding run against the Monsters.

Jason Stevenson was supposed to be in Dearborn, but instead escaped to Ada and contributed three hits.

Amy Bonjour reached base twice and scored against C-T-L.

Aside for extending the record for most games played by non-twin siblings, Ulerich sisters Hannah and Halle were perfect at the plate in the opener, even scoring three times.

Aaron went three-for-four with two runs scored and hit the longest foul ever. Sidekick Casey had two hits and scored two runs.

Any time someone named Melissa stepped to plate, it was bad news for a Know Mercy opponent. Both Melissa Ferens and Mel Carick reached base four times!
Michael Mulligan continues to be on track, smacking a hit and driving another drive with authority.

Mike Gillis kept dangerous Monster batters off balance with is mound magic, and was able to stay fresh when the Chipper Skipper would fill in for a couple innings to stare down C-A-D batters after their confidence was already shattered.

Schnitz Ada Grill Game Ball Game 1: Jamie Norris for extending his already amazing streak to sick levels!

Schnitz Ada Grill Game Ball Game 2: Steve Cairns for his outstanding catch, big hits and bold baserunning to put the Monsters away.
Next week: The semi-finals round of the playoffs, likely against GE.
Special thanks to all the fans who attended, including

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Know Mercy holds heads high after double loss

The end result might have been the usual, but Know Mercy sure looked and felt better after Wednesday’s double-header loss.

With heavy hearts and without some of the team’s top guns, Know Mercy battled Glory Days in the opener, coming behind to claim the lead then watching it slip away — but scored a season-high 10 runs.

The team stayed to close to Norman Family Dentist before a late-inning collapse put the contest out of reach, but the game included some of Know Mercy’s best defense of the year.

Michael Mulligan was able to shake his frustrating slump. He worked out a walk in the first game — with Steve Cairns coming around to score in his place — and after ripping a shot just foul in the second game he launched one over the shortstop’s head for his first hit. Michael also was sharp in the field.

Niki Ferguson made the most spectacular play of the year. Smothering a tough grounder at second, Niki, while on her belly, backhanded a throw to Jamie Norris at first base to nail a runner. Niki had a big day at the plate, too, going three for three with a run scored in the opener as the lady leadoff hitter.

The scoop was one of several tough plays executed by Jamie, who went a perfect four-for-four at the plate.

Mike Gillis was perfect on the day with four Schnitzes and a walk, plus two runs.

Chad Zollman was finally cleared to play after his knee injury and picked up right where he left off with a Schnitz and stellar play at shortstop. Chad + playoffs = Good things for Know Mercy!

Steve Korb made some outstanding plays running down deep drives in left field.
Halle Ulerich had a bit hit with a run scored in the opener and was flawless in left-center. Big sister Hannah was masterful at third base.

Amy Bonjour worked out a key walk and came around to score, sharing catching duties with Venta Norris, who also reached base.

Steve Cairns drove in two big runs to tie the opener, and came around to score the only run against Norman, who desperately wanted a shutout.

The Chipper Skipper had his best day at the plate with a double Schnitz and two regular Schnitzes with two runs scored in the opener, and drove in Steve Cairns in the bottom of the seventh in the finale after announcing to all that Know Mercy would NOT be shut out.

The Schnitz Ada Grill Game Ball went to Michael Mulligan for his big day at the plate.

The Schnitz Ada Grill Collector’s Card is of the Chipper Skipper, who needs to get some shots of other players to complete the set.

Special thanks to our largest fan section of the year, with Pastor Sarah and Pete Stobie — with Lucy and Amy — and Gayle Gillis, Joni Korb and Niki’s Mom, who keeps an eye on the little ones so Niki can show off her skills on the field.

Remember to keep Casey and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Know Mercy looks for bright side after rough game against Victory Club 1

On the bright side, no one was hurt. And Know Mercy is done with teams named Victory Club for a while.

The team was held to one run on five hits in a 15-1 mercy defeat at the hands of Victory Club 1, which simply hit and fielded better than our intrepid squad.

The game started on a bright note, with Halle Ulerich reaching base in her Know Mercy debut. She moved over when Nick Rodammer smacked a Schnitz, followed by Niki Ferguson doing the same.

That loaded the bases for Steve Korb, who drove in Halle in a fielder’s choice.

Sadly, a Schnitz from the Chipper Skipper in the third inning was the only other Know Mercy hit, as the team meekly went 1-2-3 in the second, fourth and fifth innings.

The score could have been worse if not for some nice defense. Mike Light made several nice catches – and one spectacular one – in left field.
Nick had a sweet diving stop on a tough infield shot.
Amy Bonjour raced out from behind the plate to grab a pop-up.
Mike Gillis was his usual mound magician, walking no one and striking out three.

Now Know Mercy can shake it off and head into next week’s doubleheader with a chance to add some victories and head into the playoffs on a high note.

Schnitz Ada Grill Game Ball: Went to Halle for making her debut in style, landing the team’s first hit of the game and scoring the only run.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Clutch hitting, tight defense and pitching leads to Know Mercy victory over Forest Hills Foods

Too bad Jason Stevenson didn’t know we’re a superstitious group before he signed on for Know Mercy softball.

Jason spent his weekend running a marathon in Traverse City. Four days later, he delivers for Know Mercy in the clutch, driving a bases-loaded double Schnitz in the sixth inning to cement the team’s first victory of the season, a 6-3 battle against Forest Hills Foods..

We can’t prove that running 26 miles among the cherry trees was responsible for Jason’s performance. But we’re going to have to keep the routine going for a couple games.

Wednesday was a must-win for Know Mercy after dropping the first three games to tough teams and then playing to an 8-8, eight-inning tie against an improved St. Matthews team in Game 4.

The team also came with a score to settle. It was Forest Hills Foods that pushed Know Mercy out of the playoffs last season in a disputed forfeit despite not having any bats to use.

And FHF arrived Wednesday down a player, forcing the umpires to grant a concession, switching which team took the field first.

After giving FHF a run in the top of the first, Know Mercy battled back with Nick “Schnitzilla” Rodammer leading off with a double Schnitz.

He was followed by Casey Munger, a day after celebrating a birthday, who drove him home with a Schnitz. Then Hannah Ulerich smacked her first Schnitz,

Mike Gillis drove in Casey, and Niki Ferguson drove in Hannah with a double Schnitz.

Forest Hills added a run in the third inning and another in the fourth for a 3-3 tie.

That set the stage for drama in the bottom of the frame, when Steve Kutz led off with a Schmitz, He moved to third when the pitcher wanted no part of the Schnitzilla, and walked him. Niki came up huge again, with a productive out that pushed Steve across with the go-ahead run.

But Know Mercy needed some insurance.

Mike Gillis strode to the plate with one out and accepted a walk. Then after another out, Jamie Norris also worked the count for a walk, pushing Mike to third. Jamie Linari accepted her free pass.

That set the stage for her sidekick Jason, still sore from his performance in the Bayshore Marathon. He finished 34th in his age group, with an incredible time of 3 hours, 37 minutes and 7 seconds. Impressive.

In his first at-bat Jason skied one so far in the heavens that flights from Ford Airport were diverted – but it landed in the glove of a speedy FHF outfielder.

That wasn’t going to happen a second time, as Jason launched an absolute laser, bringing home Mike and Jamie Norris.

With some breathing room, Mike Gillis’ masterful pitching and Know Mercy’s tight defense shut down FHF for the final two frames to cement the first victory of the year.

The Schnitz Ada Grill Game Ball was awarded to Jason for his super clutch hitting and performance in the marathon. Now that we have a proven formula for success, Jason’s going to have to find a race this weekend. We’ve got a streak!

In other highlights:

Amy Bonjour launched her first hit of the season, a great whack into the outfield.

Rebecca Kutz made her Know Mercy debut, and legged out a hit in her first-ever at-bat.

Andrew Murray worked out his second walk, and is tied for the team lead. Next week he walks across the Rockford High stage to accept his diploma.

To celebrate the big win, we present three collector cards, featuring Jamie Norris, Rebecca and Michael Mulligan.