CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township Clintondale softball coach Jim Steffler said there’s a youth movement going on with the Dragons softball team.
The Clintondale roster features no seniors, after losing four to graduation, according to Steffler. The Dragons roster is made up of two freshmen, eight sophomores and three juniors.
“There’s definitely a youth movement going on,” said Steffler, whose team sat at 0-1 at press time. “But five of the sophomores we have — they have a lot of experience.”
Those five sophomores all started as freshmen. They have a full season of varsity softball under their belts, Steffler said, along with playing on summer softball squads.
The five he expects to lead the Dragons are pitcher Morgan Duda, infielder Kaliegh Mathison, first baseman Taylor McDonald, catcher Ashley Ables and infielder Amy Chmielewski.
“We had an interesting lineup last year because all five of those sophomores started with four seniors,” said Steffler, who guided Clintondale to a 16-6 mark in 2012, including a second-place 9-3 finish in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division.
“Those are the girls I expect to lead us because they played all last year. Sometimes things go south in softball and leaders step up to stop the bleeding. We’re young, so we’re going to need to build some more leadership qualities as the season goes along.”
One area Steffler expects the Dragons to excel at is at the plate. He said he believes he has a strong hitting team that can put runs on the board.
“If I tell you we’re going to have a final score of 3-2, that’s not good for us,” Steffler said. “If it’s 10-7 or 15-13 — we win a lot of games like that. We scored a lot of runs last year, so we’re looking to do that again.”
To Steffler’s point, Clintondale scored 46 runs over two games last season.
The Dragons coach is hoping to score a lot of runs against MAC Silver competition. Steffler said he sees Warren Lincoln and St. Clair Shores South Lake as tough competition. He added Clawson High to that list, as it comes over from the MAC Gold.
“We’ve been able to beat (Madison Heights Madison), East Detroit and New Haven over the last couple of years,” Steffler said. “You have to win the games you should win. Then it comes down to head-to-head matchups against the other contending teams.
“You have to beat those teams, if you want to have a shot.”
Clintondale next hits the diamond for a matchup with Clawson at 4:30 p.m. April 17 at home.