Clinton TownshipMay 13, 2014
Clintondale softball team battling its way through the MAC Silver
By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The Clinton Township Clintondale softball team has been the model of consistency in divisional play over the past decade or so.
The Dragons have finished at .500 or better in league play every year since 2004. Clintondale’s lone division championship during that run came in 2007, when the team went 11-1 (19-7 overall) and shared the league title with St. Clair Shores South Lake.
In order for the Dragons to capture another division title, South Lake will have to slip up a couple of times over the last few weeks of the regular season. The Cavaliers sat at 8-0 in divisional play at press time, while the Dragons had a mark of 5-2 (6-3 overall). Clintondale’s only losses inside the MAC Silver have come at the hands of South Lake. That includes a 5-3 loss May 5 and a 10-3 setback April 17.
The teams finished 1-2 in the league in 2013, with the Cavaliers claiming the division crown.
“We played strong defense, had solid pitching and got out of some jams (May 5) against South Lake,” Dragons coach Jim Steffler said. “We just didn’t take advantage of some opportunities that were presented to us.
“Our girls have really come together. This is a good softball team. South Lake just got the better of us twice. They’re a good team, too.”
How the team has played is in line with Steffler’s expectations. The fifth-year Dragons coach said he believed Clintondale, which doesn’t have a senior on its roster, would either be in first or second place in the MAC Silver because of the strength of his team — powerful hitters and an improved on defense.
Pitching has been key for Clintondale, as well. Junior hurlers Kalleigh Mathison and Morgan Duda anchor the rotation. Both are three-year varsity players.
Duda said hard work and dedication will be key if the team wants to overtake South Lake in the MAC Silver. Mathison said the team has exhibited strong defense and hitting, but pitching leads the charge.
“You can see your teammates getting pumped when you’re doing a good job on the mound,” Mathison said.
Clintondale still has a shot to claim a division title, with four MAC Silver games remaining at press time. The team holds wins over every team in the Silver except South Lake.
“We have to handle our own business,” Steffler said. “(The league title race) is definitely not over. But the (May 5) loss hurt.”
Steffler said the team’s clutch hitting must improve if it wants to win a league title and have success in the postseason, which begins May 27. He said it’s crucial Clintondale do a better job of driving in runners in scoring position.
Steffler also said there’s a lot for the team to look forward to during the remainder of the regular season, with some big nonleague games coming up, including a 7:30 p.m. May 19 game against Warren Fitzgerald that will be broadcast live by TV Warren.
Mathison said the team must continue to get contributions from everyone if it wants to reach its goals.
“We need everyone to believe they’re a leader and have the belief that they can make a difference in every game,” Mathison said. “As long as we come together with those thoughts, we’ll do well.”
Clintondale’s next game is against Madison Heights Madison at 4:30 p.m. May 14 at Clintondale.