Softball squads set for spring

Big Reds and Ramblers ready to hit the diamond

By: Thomas Franz | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published March 26, 2014

 Chippewa Valley senior third baseman and shortstop Rene Finn bunts during a practice on March 19.

Chippewa Valley senior third baseman and shortstop Rene Finn bunts during a practice on March 19.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — In her first year as coach at her alma mater, Claire Cannon is back at Chippewa Valley as the varsity softball coach.

Cannon played for Chippewa from 2005-2008, when the Big Reds had multiple 30-win seasons. After playing for Albion College, Cannon is excited for the opportunity to be back as coach of the Big Reds.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to come back, and it just happened that Dave Prestininzi decided to retire so it was perfect timing. It was almost like it was meant to be,” Cannon said. “I’m super excited to be back. I bleed Chippewa Valley, and I’m very passionate about the school and its sports, so I think it’s going to be a very positive experience.”

Having played for Prestininzi and enlisting the help of her father, Bob Cannon, has helped make it a smooth transition for Cannon, so far.

“It was a very easy transition with coach Prestininzi because I played for him. We’re close, so I knew what I was getting into with the talent of the girls. It’s been an easy transition and the girls work super hard, so it’s not like I have to motivate them — because they want to win,” Cannon said.

A group of four seniors will lead the squad. Stephanie Adamczyk will be pitching and playing shortstop; Rene Finn, who will be going to be play at Trine University in Indiana, will starting at third base while also playing some shortstop; Tristan Clark will be alternating duties as a pitcher and first baseman; and Mia Conforto will play first base.

Laura Miller and Taylor Pulford are two other pitchers who Cannon said will form the strength of her team this spring.

“Defensively, we have four pitchers this year, which I think is uncommon to have four solid pitchers who I can pitch at any time. Most of the girls on the team, unless they’re a freshman, have been on the varsity for a while and have been around the program for a while,” Cannon said.

After a 10-20 season in 2013 that included a 4-8 mark in MAC White play, Cannon hopes that her team’s experience and talent level will bring the Big Reds back into contention for a league title.

“With the talent we have and the senior leadership that we have, we should not be placing in the bottom half of the MAC White. I expect to be right up there competing for the MAC White title,” Cannon said.

Chippewa’s first scheduled game is a home date on April 2 against L’Anse Creuse.

Ramblers hoping to rebound

In his ninth year as coach of the Fraser softball team, Matt Fishburn is hoping to see his team rebound from a tough 2013 season.

After winning 20 or more games for four straight seasons, Fraser went 8-18 last year, but Fishburn is expecting that his team will get back to the its winning ways.

“Last year was a little blip in the road, but this year I feel that we’ll get back on track,” Fishburn said. “Last year, we started two freshmen in the infield. We had a couple sophomores, and we were in a lot of games but, unfortunately, we couldn’t get it done. … The goal this year is to get back to what we’ve been in the past. We know we can get there; we just have to get it done between the lines.”

Three seniors will lead the Ramblers this season. Four-year varsity pitcher Faith Genova will be batting third this year; Taylor Hashley, a three-year varsity player, will be playing in the infield and outfield; and Shelby Sage will be behind the plate.

“They’re always around. They’re leaders at practice; they’ve led in the offseason and over the summer. They definitely want to get back and leave their mark on this program as a winning program,” Fishburn said of his senior class.

Sophomores Alexis Belfiori (second base) and Casey Spencer (shortstop) are back as the starting middle infielders.

“Our strength will be our hitting. … I think we can play defense, but look for us to score many runs per game as well as play good defense behind us,” Fishburn said.

To bounce back from last year, Fishburn said that his team has put in a lot of extra work this winter to be ready for the spring. Having great chemistry with one another should also help, Fishburn explained.

“Their work ethic is to be admired. They all worked and put in a lot of time in the offseason in conditioning and lifting to get stronger,” Fishburn said. “Another thing that I like is they all get along. Outside of practice, they’re good friends, and when they get here, you can tell they like to be with each other.”

Fraser had its first scheduled game of the season canceled on March 20 due to field conditions.