Defending district champs set to get back at it again — likely against Troy

By: Mike Moore | Troy Times | Published May 29, 2013

 Coach Dave Marr and his Athens softball team are defending district champs for the first time since 1998.

Coach Dave Marr and his Athens softball team are defending district champs for the first time since 1998.

Photo by Donna Agusti

TROY — When the Troy Athens softball team captured its first district title since 1997 last spring, it guaranteed the squad one thing moving forward: the Red Hawks would enter this year’s playoffs as defending district champs.

“It’s an exciting time,” coach Dave Marr said. “I don’t know if there is any added pressure (because of last year), but we feel ready. We’ve played a more difficult schedule than years past, and we’ve held our own. So we’re looking forward to it.”

At press time, with just a handful of games remaining in the regular season, Athens was 21-10.

The state playoffs officially began May 28, but the Red Hawks don’t get things going until June 1 at the Troy High Division 1 district.

Pontiac High was scheduled to face Troy High May 29, after press time.

Should Troy win its first-round game, it would meet Athens ­ in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. June 1 ­for the second consecutive season.

Troy coach Tom Calnen wasn’t asked to comment on a second-round game while his opener was still in question, but the Colts’ skipper led his team to a doubleheader sweep of Athens earlier this month.

Troy won a back-and-forth contest 5-4 to begin the afternoon, and then capped things off with a 5-0 victory in the second game.

“If we see Troy, we know they are going to want to avenge that loss,” Marr said. “If we’re going to be successful, we have to be able to control the small ball. They are going to want to bunt and run, and create some problems for us. That’s where we have to be ready. On top of that, we can’t let their better hitters drive runs in. That’s what hurt us in the games earlier this year.”

With junior pitcher Haley Zemmer in the circle, Athens instantly has a chance to beat just about any team in any round.

Marr said the defense will have to be slightly better than it has been to back up its hurler, but the offense has been holding its own all spring.

“We’ve had a great season hitting the ball,” he said. “We have our top four girls hitting the ball all over the place. We’re also getting some contributions from the bottom part of the order, too. So we’re right where we want to be.”

Marr knows that once the semifinals get going, there won’t be an easy game out there.

“Should we see Troy, that is going to be a tough, tough game,” he said. The district final is set for 3 p.m. “Then you look at the other half of the bracket (Auburn Hills Avondale and Rochester Adams), and nothing is going to be easy. Whoever wins this game will be in for another test in the final. But that’s how it should be. We’ll both come into the game feeling like the team to beat.”