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2014 Catholic and Private school softball preview PHOTOS

Inter-City's Makayla Thoune (News-Herald File Photo)

Inter-City's Makayla Thoune (News-Herald File Photo)

Richard's Jackie Reitmeyer (News-Herald File Photo)

Richard's Natalie Loewengruber

For Allen Park Cabrini, the road to the Division 3 state semifinals might be a lot bumpier in 2014 than it was in 2013.

The Monarchs were 29-6 last year and were crowned AA Catholic League champs, district champs, regional champs and quarterfinal champs before losing to eventual state champion Dundee in the semifinals.

Cabrini graduated a whopping nine seniors last year. Amber Steelman, who played sparingly in the outfield and at catcher last season, is the lone senior on the 2014 team. Despite the turnover, Cabrini Coach Debbie Norman is hopeful that the success of the 2013 team has rubbed off on her returning players.

“We had a veteran group and a few of them were on the team when we went to the state finals in 2010,” Norman said. “So I think they had an idea of what you need to do and how you have to perform if you want to revisit such a stage again and I hope our young girls learned that just like those girls did four years ago.”

Norman is expecting big things from her four returning players this year: junior infielder Lilly Ranspach, junior pitcher Channing Brzys, and sophomore designated hitter Peyton Lankford.

A smooth transition from many JV players to the varsity squad will be a key factor in determining how successful Cabrini is this season.

“We have a group of juniors that won two league championships at the junior varsity level the last couple years and we’re hoping they can come in and be a big help,” Norman said. “We kept the JV players together for a reason so that when they came up they would be used to each other and make for a nice transition.”

Teamwork has been the name of the game under Norman during her 14-year tenure at Cabrini, and she knows teams in the Catholic League will be gunning for what they perceive to be an inexperienced Monarch team.

“The important thing is that everyone understands their roles and that the ultimate goal here is to be successful as a team,” Norman said. “The girls know that everyone is looking to take advantage of their youth and they don’t want to let that happen. There’s a strong sense of pride and tradition here in the Cabrini softball family and they want to keep that alive.”



Gabriel Richard

Coming off of a disappointing 13-18 season last year, Coach Bob Wilkerson said that the Gabriel Richard softball team lacked pitching.

“We had a couple of our infielders, our third baseman and our shortstop, do their best to hold us in games with pitching when they weren’t playing the infield,” Wilkerson said. “Pitching is everything in fast pitch softball and unfortunately, we didn’t have much of that last season.”

Those infielders that Wilkerson mentioned- 2013 News-Herald Dream Team shortstop Jackie Reitmeyer and third baseman Natalie Loewengruber-are the top two returning players for the Pioneers.

Transfer pitchers Bella McLaury (a sophomore) from Grosse Ile and Alex Montes (a junior) from Monroe should give Gabriel Richard a much needed lift on the mound.

With only one senior on the team this year, sophomores and juniors account for most of the 2014 Gabriel Richard roster, but Wilkerson says that improved pitching should go a long way.

“We’re thinking that the pitching should hold us in some games that we didn’t really have a chance in last year,” he said. “So we’re looking forward to having a nice year.”

Gabriel Richard will travel to Divine Child for the season opener on March 25.



Inter-City

As a fairly young team in 2013, the Allen Park Inter-City Baptist softball team proved that winning with youth could be done.

The Chargers finished with an above .500 record last season and represented the MIAC blue division well by winning a district title. They were bounced in the regional finals in a close game against Liggett.

Inter-City’s team last season featured an infield of three freshmen, but still managed to find success.

“Our pitcher and catcher duo was a big reason why we accomplished what we did,” Inter-City Coach Nancy Poole said. “We had Rachel Muscat pitching. She’s playing at Concordia (University) now and she was quite a good pitcher. But our freshmen were just good athletes who adjusted well, learned to play their positions, and did what they needed to do.”

Muscat and four other seniors graduated from Inter-City last year and the new top pitcher-to-catcher battery that Poole will rely upon in 2014 will be comprised of juniors Makalya Thoune and Ashley Harrison, who will move from third base to behind the plate.

The Chargers will also welcome in eight freshmen to the starting squad. As of now, Inter-City has an unusually large roster of 19 players.

If anyone can get the most out of multiple freshmen, it’s Poole after doing so successfully last season.

“Our returning players need to work on improving and getting better, not just sitting back and being content,” Poole said. “The freshmen just need to gel together since they’ll probably be playing together for a long time. If they just push each other to get better every day they’ll fit in fine, because they all can play.”

Inter-City will start the 2014 season on the road when they play against Plymouth Christian on April 15.



Last Updated: 4/1/2014 2:54:17 PM EST

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