Two Christian high schools from western Michigan won state championships in their respective sports recently.
Holland (Mich.) Christian High School won its first state baseball championship, capturing the Division 2 title, while Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, Mich., continued its run of state championships in girls soccer, winning its third straight Division 3 title and 10th in the last 12 years.
In the baseball final, Holland Christian pitcher Mike Mokma struck out 14 batters, one shy of the record for a state final, to lead the Maroons to an 8-5 victory. Holland Christian battled from behind in several of its tournament games to win the championship and finish the season with a record of 36-6.
“When the pressure was on, they answered the call,” Holland Christian coach Jim Caserta said. “Every time we fell behind, they had something to draw on from a previous game.” Caserta became the first coach in Michigan high school history to lead two different schools to state baseball championships.
Meanwhile, Unity Christian used a stellar defensive effort in the championship game to post a 2-0 win, despite being outshot by its opponents 16-3. Goalkeeper Emily Ponstein made seven saves for the Crusaders, including several at point-blank range, to preserve the shutout. Alaina VanZalen scored in the first half, and Ponstein’s younger sister, Alexis, added the clinching goal with about two minutes remaining.
“The girls played in some very tight games [in the tournament]. We overcame some injuries and moved some people around,” said Unity Christian coach Randy Heethuis, a member of Fairway Christian Reformed Church in Jenison, Mich. “Every game, a different player stepped up and came through for us.”