L’Anse Creuse softball coach discusses new season

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 29, 2018

 Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse sophomore Ava Ferrarelli works on bunting during a March 23 practice. The Lancers’ next game is against Macomb L’Anse Creuse North at 4:30 p.m. April 12 at home.

Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse sophomore Ava Ferrarelli works on bunting during a March 23 practice. The Lancers’ next game is against Macomb L’Anse Creuse North at 4:30 p.m. April 12 at home.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse softball team doesn’t begin its season until April 12, and coach Lisa Downey is excited about the new campaign.

“I’m again blessed with some amazing young ladies,” Downey said. “They have excellent attitudes, work well together, work hard in school and on the field, and are great role models in and out of school. I look forward to having a lot of fun working with them every day and am excited to see how they improve throughout the season.”

The Lancers went 24-10 last season and won their second straight Macomb Area Conference Blue Division title. L’Anse Creuse fell short of its goal of a district title, falling to St. Clair Shores Lake Shore in the final.

L’Anse Creuse has surpassed the 20-win mark for six straight seasons. In order to continue that run, Downey said the team’s pitching and defense must be strong, and there has to be timely hitting.

Downey — who also coaches the Lancers girls basketball team — said the team must improve its base running and that there are still some starting positions up for grabs.

But the Lancers know who their ace is in the circle.

“I feel a big strength will be our pitching,” Downey said. “(Senior) Sammi Mills returns for her third season on the mound, and (junior) Brooke Nadolny will also see lots of innings on the mound.”

Mills and Nadolny are also proficient at the plate and expected to do big things with the bat.

In total, the Lancers return six starters, four of whom started as freshmen.

“So even though we are young, we have four kids who now have a year of varsity softball under their belts,” Downey said. “That should help us know more of what to expect and how to prepare for the challenges that we face throughout the season.”

Mills and Nadolny will lead the charge.

Mills, who will play at Central Michigan University, is a four-year varsity player who has started at pitcher and catcher. Last season, she was the MAC Blue MVP, finishing 18-3 in the circle with a 1.85 ERA. At the plate, she hit .545 with seven home runs and 49 RBIs.

Nadolny carved her name into the state record books last season, hitting a record 22 home runs, including three in one game May 10 against Macomb L’Anse Creuse North. The junior shortstop led L’Anse Creuse with a .583 batting average and 57 RBIs. Nadolny also pitched in nine games, going 4-4.

“Sammi and Brooke are amazing talents and are our leaders on and off the field,” Downey said. “They are very competitive and have excellent work ethics. They provide us with the experience we need, as we are a very young team, with eight sophomores and three freshmen on the team.”

That means a number of younger players — including sophomore infielder Cynthia Galvan, sophomore catcher Tessa Scholz, sophomore first baseman Ava Ferrarelli and sophomore infielder Bailey Brichacek — will play big roles in how the Lancers perform this season.

L’Anse Creuse has finished first or second in the MAC Blue in six straight seasons and has won three division titles over that span. Downey said the league — which includes Fraser High, Marine City High, Port Huron Northern, Grosse Pointe North, Grosse Pointe South and L’Anse Creuse — is full of great coaches and will be very competitive.

“(MAC Blue) teams are very well-balanced, and most of the teams return excellent pitchers and many of their players from last season,” Downey said.

Winning another division crown, a district title and achieving All-State academic honors are some of the goals the Lancers have set, but “our main goal is to prepare every day as if we are going to be playing for a championship in the next game,” Downey said.

The Lancers’ next game is against Macomb L’Anse Creuse North at 4:30 p.m. April 12 at home.