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April 10, 2013

Royal Oak Shrine softball returns most of lineup from regional final team

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Royal Oak Shrine softball returns most of lineup from regional final team
Royal Oak Shrine’s Skylar Pontello, left, and Emma Beaudoin get some throws in during a recent practice. The Knights return seven starters from last season’s district championship team.

ROYAL OAK — The expectations surrounding Royal Oak Shrine softball are plenty high.

The Knights return seven starters from their regional final squad last season, including six seniors who are in their fourth year of varsity.

“They all have huge expectations, but it’s just a matter of making sure that their practice intensity matches those expectations. So far, it has,” Shrine coach Rick Steinmetz said. “The kids know what they have to do. They’ve had success before, and they’re all great kids.”

Last season, Shrine finished 17-9 overall and fell to Allen Park Inter-City Baptist in a Division 4 regional final. In the Catholic High School League Intersectional Division, it tied for second place with Marine City Cardinal Mooney. Ann Arbor Gabrielle Richard won the division.

“This is a very good team, but we’re in a very competitive league,” Steinmetz said. “This could be one of the most competitive leagues in all of Division 4 in the state.”

Steinmetz noted that Richard and Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, another yearly contender, return their entire starting lineups.

The Knights are counting on their defense to be the difference.

“We have as good of an infield that I can remember in any of my teams having,” the 20-year veteran coach said.

In the circle, Shrine also returns two pitchers who Steinmetz called both his No. 1s.

Senior Brittany Stewart is the power pitcher and classmate Alexa Cavanaugh is the more of a placement thrower. Both have exceptional control, according to Steinmetz.

The coach feels that the pieces are in place, but how far the Knights go depends on the team’s attentiveness.

“That’s going to be key, if they come focused to play,” Steinmetz said. “I think talent-wise, this team is very good, but if they can keep focused and understand what they’re doing, they’ll go a long ways and win a lot of games.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Christian Davis at cdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1062. Twitter Follow Christian on Twitter.