BEAVERTON – When high school athletics were first cancelled in spring, several seniors immediately came to mind. I knew from prior conversations, Averie Bassage and Jarret Inscho from Beaverton and Grace Beardsley from Gladwin, were losing their favorite sports. Bassage and Beardsley play softball and Inscho plays baseball.
Bassage was a key contributor to the volleyball and basketball teams, but softball is special to her. She was upset at first saying, “it was unfortunate that it all got cancelled. I was hoping that later on we could play a couple of games.” When we talked over a week ago the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MSHAA) had not released their guidance letter to schools and it looked like there was no hope for even an abbreviated season. With the events of the last several days that hope has been rekindled. Mark Uyl Executive Director of the MSHAA said last week that it may be possible for schools to play a couple of games to give this years seniors one final opportunity to represent their schools.
Like many young athletes, baseball was Averie’s first sport. She started playing T-ball then coach pitch with the boys back when she was seven years old. She made the transition to softball soon after and has played summer ball with the Mid Michigan Heat ever since. The team is made up of players from around the area and has been very competitive, winning most of their tournaments last summer. She still hopes that the Heat can play this summer, probably starting in July.
On top of the disappointment of not playing, many athletes are also left to wonder about what might have been. The Beaverton softball team, while still young, looked like one of the best teams in the conference. After going 10-4 in the Jack Pine and finishing second in 2019 they seemed poised to make a long playoff run. Averie played third base and batted fifth for the Beavers. Coach Aaron Wentworth mentioned that when she was brought up to the varsity team as a sophomore they moved her to third base and she has played there since.
“She is an unselfish player who was only concerned with making the team better,” said Wentworth. “She has a nice glove and moves well. She is very quick and has a good arm.” Batting fifth in the order, Bassage was expected to move runners along. “She is a line drive hitter who is also a good bunter,” added Wentworth. She was also hoping to get her first homerun this year.
Improvement came quickly for Bassage on the volleyball court. She didn’t begin playing until she was a sophomore, but was a big part of the team’s success last season. As a back row passer it was her job to get the ball to the setter. With the number of kills Beaverton had last season she obviously did her job well. One moment that stood out for me last year was when she was injured in the semifinal match in Battle Creek. I was looking at her face when the hard hit ball slammed off of her hand. She was clearly hurt, but didn’t overreact. Her team needed her and she was not coming out of the game.
It seems like everyone in Beaverton is a basketball fan and Averie was no different. She started playing in fourth grade and “really liked it because it was different from Makayla.” Her older sister Makayla plays softball at Madonna University. Bassage made her mark on the basketball court as a leader. Coach Renee Inscho said, “she demonstrated a strong work ethic, always going above and beyond. Her positive attitude was contagious. She was always upbeat and a great role model for young athletes.”
Bassage is the daughter of Mike and Angie Bassage and also has a younger sister Alli who plays volleyball. When your dad is the elementary school principal you probably can’t get away with much at school. Looking at her list of school achievements it’s obvious that she was as good in the classroom as she was on the court. She was a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), student government and the Leo Club. All three groups provide community service on one level or another and her participation reinforces one of Inscho’s comments. “Averie is one of the kindest and most caring kids I know.”
With her high school career over Bassage is looking toward the future. She is currently working a Flower Scents in Beaverton and will be attending Mid Michigan College in the fall where she will major in Social Work. She plans on transferring to Central Michigan to finish her bachelors’ degree. She wants to eventually get a Masters in Social Work and work in the mental health field probably as a mental health therapist.