MADISON HEIGHTS — It’s a rare occasion that Madison Heights Bishop Foley senior Juliana Aiuto takes part in soft toss during softball practice.
The reason being, the Macomb resident has a habit of sending the ball over the fence and into the waiting cars in the parking lot.
“I like soft toss because it helps against slower pitchers, but sometimes (coach John Ploskonka) doesn’t let me,” Aiuto said with a laugh April 14. “I try not to hit the cars.”
Though only one windshield has felt the wrath of Aiuto’s power in four years, many pitchers have felt the full brunt of it.
Aiuto enters this season with 22 career home runs and again looks to lead the Ventures in hitting, and hopefully, to a division championship.
Last season, Foley finished 2-27 overall with an inexperienced roster. Ploskonka expects that to change this time around with experience under the squad’s belt and also a new setting in the Catholic High School League.
The Ventures have moved from the AA Division — with perennial state powers like Pontiac Notre Dame Prep and Allen Park Cabrini — to the Intersectional Division, with traditional division leaders Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes and Royal Oak Shrine.
Ploskonka said the school sizes in the Intersectional are much more comparable to Foley than those in the AA Division.
“We feel much better. We’ve been fighting to move there for a couple of years,” he said. “I think we’ll do real well this year. I really do.”
At press time, the Ventures were 2-4 overall, with doubleheader defeats to Prep and Cabrini. Foley is 2-0 in the division with a doubleheader sweep of Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood.
Foley is continuing to play many of the teams from its former division, just as nonconference.
“We’re not shying away. We’re still playing everybody,” he said.
Ploskonka added that he’s seen the potential his squad possesses. In its series with Cabrini, Foley lost two close games but left numerous runners stranded.
“We can play with people, it’s just learning how to win and have that winning attitude,” the coach said. “I think we’ll get that attitude back.”
Last season marked the first time Foley failed to win a district title since 2008. Ploskonka believes much of the winning attitude will come from girls on the team who were also members of the basketball team in the winter, including Kristin Doxen.
She was a point guard on the team that won a CHSL title and a district championship.
“After last season, we want it more, and it’s certainly an attainable goal,” she said of winning a league and district title. “We want to come out and prove our potential, and show the talent that we have.”
Catch Ventures against Marine City Cardinal Mooney at 4:30 p.m. May 1 on the road.