East Detroit softball looks to build on last season’s success

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 27, 2017

EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe East Detroit softball team has seen its record improve in each of the last four seasons, and senior shortstop/catcher Mashala Grimes believes the program’s improvement will continue into this year.

The Shamrocks went winless in 2012, won three games in 2013, eight in 2014, 17 in 2015 and went 24-8 last season.

“There’s no reason we can’t get any better,” said Grimes, who is in her fourth year with the team. “We’ve got a lot of the same girls back from last year. We play well together. We’ve been working hard all winter. We should be able to have another good year.”

East Detroit coach Jeff Zschernig — in his fifth year with the team — said he believes the team should be able to at least match last season’s success. He said the team’s hitting and fielding should be strong, while noting the pitching rotation is being worked out with a few players in the mix.

East Detroit senior infielder McKensey Emon agreed with her coach about the team’s lineup. Emon said the team has several solid hitters — most of whom were members of last year’s team that averaged more than 14 runs per game.

“We’ve got a lot of big bats,” she said. “But our defense is good too. We know scoring runs is important, but if we have games where we’re not hitting the ball so well, we know our defense can pick us up.”

Zschernig said the team has had great practices early on.

“They’ve done really well so far,” Zschernig said. “I’m hoping we can get off to a fast start and sustain it over the course of the season.”

Leading the charge will be senior catcher Hannah Whitlow, junior pitcher Alyssa Ledbetter and Grimes — all East Detroit captains. Along with Grimes, Whitlow is a four-year varsity player.

Zschernig hopes that the trio and the supporting cast can lead the Shamrocks to a solid finish in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division. East Detroit finished fifth in the MAC Silver last season with a 9-7 mark. New Haven High went 16-0 to win the division.

The league will be tough, Zschernig said, but balanced. The Shamrocks were 15-1 in non-divisional games last year, which shows the strength of the MAC Silver.

“No team is going to be able to take a night off,” Zschernig said. “It’s going to come down to which team plays the most consistently.”

Consistent is what Ledbetter believes East Detroit will be this spring.

“We’re a close-knit group — almost like a family,” Ledbetter said. “I think that should help us as the season goes along.”

The Shamrocks open the season against Warren Macomb Christian at 4:30 p.m. March 30 at home.