Grosse Pointe North’s softball team was crowned district champions June 2, defeating Grosse Pointe South 5-2 in the championship game.
Coach Ron Smith has made no secret of the fact that he believes his team is a postseason contender, and a district title, which was won on South’s home field, is a nice start toward that goal.
“Two down, five to go,” Smith said with a laugh. “It doesn’t get sweeter than that. It was a great game. Our girls executed in both games extremely well. Our hitting showed up like we expected it to do. Key hits, we talked about that all year. We had it today. Plays in the field were fabulous, and my (pitcher) did her job. She shut it down the way she’s supposed to. As a coach, how do you ask for anything better than that.”
Prior to meeting South in the championship game, the Norsemen defeated East Detroit. Senior Amy Zaranek pitched both of North’s district tournament games, and aside from helping her team with her work in the circle, she also hit a home run against East Detroit and South to help do her part offensively.
At a minimum, Zaranek’s final season in a Norsemen uniform will include three wins against crosstown rival South, as well as a district title. But she hopes the best is yet to come.
“We were pumped up coming into it, because all season we’ve been shooting for a state championship,” Zaranek said. “Obviously, you can’t win that if you don’t win districts, so we were really excited. When we all come together, we’re pretty invincible, for the most part.”
For Smith, North’s road to the district championship didn’t go exactly according to plan. The Norsemen finished the regular season with a record of 14-15 overall, 3-9 in the Macomb Area Conference White Division.
Despite not entering the postseason with as many victories as he would have liked, Smith pointed out that North was on the losing end of games that were decided by one or two runs. Given the kind of talent on the Norsemen’s roster, Smith still has high hopes that North could reach its goal.
“The record doesn’t reflect as well as we have done,” he said. “We’re about .500 in the record, but all in all, we just lost a lot of tough games. I think we’re going to be fine. My goal’s still (what) it originally was — we’re shooting for the states.”
As for South, the Blue Devils finished the regular season with a record of 11-15 overall, 7-5 in the MAC Gold. South earned its way into the championship game by defeating Detroit Southeastern in the opening-round contest.
Although South’s season ended sooner than coach Nicole Crane would have preferred, she appreciates what her squad gave her and likes how things are shaping up for the 2012-13 season.
“Very proud of my team,” Crane said. “They did a great job — lot of leadership from Gretchen Shirar and Bella Blondell. We’re losing three kids (Blondell, Katherine Campbell and starting pitcher Bridgid Walkowski). It always hurts to lose them, but we do have some other pitching in the program. We have a lot of experience. I have a really good core that’s going to be seniors. Next year’s a big year. It’s a big year for us. We’re ready to go.”
The Norsemen’s opening-round game of the regional tournament is scheduled for noon June 9 against either Detroit Renaissance or Southfield at North.