MADISON HEIGHTS – Kathryn Sheehan knows Madison Heights Bishop Foley’s two wins last year was not indicative of the Ventures softball program, which is why the senior second baseman is optimistic about this season.
“We’re staying positive and working hard every day,” Sheehan said Tuesday. “It was rough last year, but we’re going to be better. We got pitching this year and hitting. I know the season will be better.”
Bishop Foley coach John Ploskonka said the Ventures open the season on April 1 at crosstown rival Royal Oak Shrine and he too thinks his team will be vastly improved.
“I think we’re going to get back to our district winning ways,” Ploskonka said during the teams’ indoor practice on Tuesday. “We’ve won every district in the previous years and we’re going to get back to Bishop Foley softball where we can compete with anyone.”
This marks Ploskonka’s seventh season at the helm and it comes on the heels of a 2-22 overall record last year.
“Brutal,” Ploskonka said. “When you go from having a very, very good team that lost a good pitcher (in 2012) and coming into last year (2013) we knew we would be down and it would be a struggle."
However, eight returners are back for the Ventures this season led by senior tri-captain Juliana Aiuto.
“Juliana is the backbone of the team,” Ploskonka said. “She led the team the last two years in home runs. She’s going to have a great year.”
Also watch for a senior-laden team to be led by Sheehan at second base and Veronica Bay in leftfield – both captains along with Aiuto.
“Kathryn is a three-year player who is a very solid, consistent and just keeps hustling,” Ploskonka said. “Veronica will probably be our lead-off hitter and it will be her third year as a starter.”
Ploskonka also said senior centerfielder Kristen Doxen is a “fearless athlete.”
“Kristen will run through a wall and not care,” he said. “Last year was her first year for organized softball. She’s just an unbelievable athlete.”
Underclassmen will also add to an experienced team. Phoebe Szakacs is a sophomore first baseman who looks good in spring drills.
“We are looking for Phoebe to have a breakout year,” Ploskonka said. “She is a year older and stronger and understands what it’s all about.”
Junior transfer Katie Matthews, who came over to Foley from Warren Regina, has never played varsity softball but she has a “good arm.”
“She’s our pitcher,” Ploskonka said. “She keeps the ball low and is an all around good kid and good athlete - a solid player for us.”
Also, junior pitcher Maria Carey had both wins for the Ventures last year.
“She throws hard,” Ploskonka said. “She is going to be very competitive.”
The Ventures will drop down into the Catholic League Intersectional Division with the likes of Royal Oak Shrine, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, Cardinal Mooney, Ann Arbor Richard, and St. Catherine’s.
“We should be one of the favorites to contend for the division,” Ploskonka said. “With the pitching we have and all the others coming back it should be a fun year.
“I have a good feeling,” he continued, “The seniors are helping out the younger ones and they are just doing it on their own. The players are working out and I see a different attitude. They want to be here and working as hard as they can.”
Still, cold weather has kept the Ventures inside.
“We’re chomping at bit to get outside,” Ploskonka said. “We were supposed to play Thursday and Friday but who knows. The good thing is we have all our weekends open if games during the week are postponed. We want to get out and play games.”