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2014 Huron League softball preview

Riverview

The Riverview Pirates softball team could be the most dangerous team in the Huron League in the upcoming season. The Bucs are returning all nine of their starters from last year, and plenty of good playoff experience.

Last year, the Bucs fell in the regional semifinal and although it was hard to handle at the time, Bucs’ Coach Scott Steward knew it was important to the team coming into the 2014 season.

“Last year I thought it was important for us to win the district, get some experience and get a little taste of some playoff success at the end of the year. Hopefully we can build on it this year,” he said.

Out of the nine returners, the Bucs are also gaining one senior who was injured during the playoffs.

“We have 6 seniors right now on varsity, and 5 juniors, so 11 of our 14 on varsity are upperclassmen so we’re an experienced team. Most of my girls have 2 or 3 years of varsity experience,” said Steward.

Key returnees include senior shortstop Chloe Oder, centerfielder Skylar Crenshaw, catcher Katelyn Toth, and junior third baseman Olivia Logan.

The Bucs aren’t worried about the delay of the season either.

“We’ve had a great week of practicing getting ready. The girls seemed focused ready to go,” Steward said. “We have a veteran team, so I know we’re in a better situation than others. It’d be a little nerve-racking if we were a younger team. We’re pretty excited.”

The Bucs’ expectations are pretty high and for good reason.

“(Last year) our record was 16-14 overall. We finished fifth in our league. We know the league is extremely talented. We’ve seen a lot of good teams in the league,” Steward said. “I like to think is the toughest league in the area.”







Flat Rock

Despite losing five, four-year starters from 2013, the Flat Rock Rams are ready to compete in 2014 with a good mix of experience.

The Rams lost six seniors to graduation coming into 2014, but are bringing back three key returners. Sam Dymon, Ally Bryant, and Michelle Bodary will be returning, along with Stephanie Tyawicki, who will be the Rams number one pitcher.

Overall the Rams have a good mix of players for 2014 that include four seniors, four juniors, and five sophomores.

“Six starters, five four-year starters (graduated), so I pretty much lost a whole rebuilding team here,” Coach Steve Pryzbylo said. “I think we’re still going to be ok. We’ve got some kids with some good talent, just trying to find the right spot for them to play, and of course, the horrible year weather wise trying to figure that out.”

Although Pryzbylo has his roster, he’s not quite sure where his team will stack up on the field and in the batting order, because of the winter weather delaying outdoor practices and cancelling the first games of the season.

“It’s terrible trying to figure out who my outfield is going to be. We’ve got some good talent, I feel, all around,” he said. “Most of them are pretty versatile in the infield and the outfield, but just having to figure out who will be my best three outfielders.”

As for how the Rams will stack up in the tough Huron League, Pryzbylo hopes for a repeat of last year.

“I think we’ll finish in the up above, at least third. We should be able to finish third in the league. We were actually third in the league (last year). (We) should’ve been first, missed out on second by one game, missed out on three games for first. It was a tough run for all of us.”

Pryzbylo knows his team will compete against some stiff competition, hoping to grab a spot in the top half of the league, but with a good mix of experience and newcomers, hopes the Rams challenge for one of the top Huron League spots.



Huron

The Chiefs are frustrated about the weather delays this young spring season, but Coach Heather Holshoe is also excited about the returning players in 2014.

Despite the setbacks, Holshoe is returning a very talented and experienced group of players that should improve upon their 21-9 overall record from last year.

As for the team that she’s returning, only three out of the 13 didn’t play on Varsity last year. The junior-heavy team will have three seniors, eight juniors, and two sophomores.

Among the returners include seniors Savannah Leninger (catcher, outfield. shortstop), and Courtney Van Riper (pitcher, first base); juniors Savannah Floyd (first base), Taylor Hughey (outfield), Lyndsey Robbins (pitcher, second base), Alexis Vella (utility), Alexa White (shortstop, catcher), and Erika Yancey (outfield).

The sophomore returnees include Summer Callahan (third base, outfield), and Julie Littler (pitcher, first base).

The newcomers are senior Paige Zarb, and juniors Alina Hecht, and Amanda Ozog.

“This is one of the most talented groups I’ve ever returned,” Holshoe said. “I’m returning 10 that started in some capacity last year, and the three that are not returners are from our JV squad from last year.

As for the positions mentioned above, Holshoe said, “It’s a fight every day for positioning. There’s a lot of inter-challenges among the players, that team camaraderie is really strong already.”

The weather is the only thing putting a damper on the team’s season.

“It’s really hard to say right now (when we will start), because taking a softie (soft practice) on a gym floor is going to be a little different, especially for the grounders, especially trying to get a good read on a fly ball,” Holshoe said. “ I haven’t nailed down an actual lineup, I haven’t nailed down actual positions. We’ve got some ideas, some kids that are going to move around last year.”

Despite the practices in the gym, Holshoe believes her team will compete in a tough Huron League.

“Our top two teams in our league are going to be Airport, who was undefeated in our league last year with a freshman pitcher throwing about 60mph, so she’s going to be probably our hardest battle, and SMCC has a new freshman, and word is she throws heat,” said Holshoe.

“While the Riverview’s return a lot, you never really know until the season shakes out. When you have a team that goes undefeated one year, and returns their pitcher, you’ve got to believe they have the most firepower behind them. Milan’s always strong, we have always had a battle with Flat Rock just because they’re neighbors, and we grow up together. It’s pretty strong, even our bottom teams are getting stronger in our league. It’s never an easy game.”





Grosse Ile

Second-year Red Devils Coach Erin Allison is really looking forward to the 2014 season. After a senior filled team in 2013, and graduating eight seniors coming into this year, Allison is excited for the 2014 team and their bright future.

Last year’s team was Allison’s first as the coach of the Red Devils, and said she couldn’t have had a better team to work with but looks forward to this season.

“I am excited to see this team in action,” she said. “Of the ten seasons of softball I have coached, I truly believe I have never had a group of girls like this.

“They are team players in every sense of the word – willing to do whatever is asked of them in order to contribute to the success of their team. It’s a lot of fun to coach this team and I believe the younger girls are ready to fill the big shoes left by our 2013 seniors.”

Although the Red Devils lost eight seniors to graduation, they return a couple of key seniors this year.

Seniors Megan Swick (catcher), Ciara Nellenbach (centerfield), Morgan Burr (pitcher), and Carly Lower (second base) are all returning, along with junior Moriah Wilke (shortstop).

Swick was honorable mention all Huron League and all-district, while Wilke was second team All-Huron League, and honorable mention all-district.

Despite the winter season setback, Allison believes her team is ready, knowing that all of the other teams are in the same boat.

“It’s tough to feel game-ready when the girls haven’t been able to practice outdoors, but everyone is facing the same struggles,” she said. “This is one of the variables that we know comes with spring sports in Michigan. It’s definitely not ideal, but the girls are staying focused and using their time inside to focus on fundamentals so that they are ready once outdoor weather hits us.”

As for her competition, Allison expects a tough league, just as it always has been.

“The Huron League is always tough when it comes to softball. I expect that tradition to continue. We played a lot of one and two run games last season and I fully expect this season to look similar.”



Last Updated: 3/31/2014 8:17:09 PM EST

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