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April 2, 2013

Southfield-Lathrup softball welcomes back familiar coach

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Southfield-Lathrup softball welcomes back familiar coach
Southfield-Lathrup coach Bruce Lenington returns to the program after being away from the team last season. Lenington has led the Chargers to four division championships in his seven seasons on the bench.

LATHRUP VILLAGE — Before practice began March 26 in the Southfield-Lathrup gym, softball coach Bruce Lenington gathered his team.

Lenington was the head coach for seven years at Lathrup, before taking last season off.

He pointed to the softball banner with Oakland Activities Association championships and used it as a lesson for his squad.

“They are all up there because of hard work, and they made a commitment,” Lenington said of his four championship teams represented on the banner. “Because of that, no one wanted to play them.”

Lenington inherits a team with five players with varsity experience and four who have never played softball. None on the roster played under Lenington.

“They’re working hard, consistently. They’re flying around, and I love the energy. They’re picking things up really well, and for many of them, it’s an absolute culture shock because what we’re asking them to do isn’t something they they’re used to. But they’re open to it because they want to win and be successful,” he said. “The expectation, the work ethic, what we stress in our program are all things that they’re getting used to, but the kids that are here really want to get better.”

Senior Bianca McNeil is excited about what she’s seen so far.

“He’s doing great, and I’m learning a lot. I can’t wait until the season starts,” she said. “Everyone is contributing and listening. I think we’re going to do good this year.”

Lenington’s recipe for success is dictated on stout defense and aggressive base running.

“That just doesn’t happen. There are fundamentals and mechanics for all of it,” he said. “Anytime we’ve been in a position to win a championship, it’s because our defense leads us. We need to have the ability to stop the big inning for the other team.”

The coach added that he likes his team’s speed, but it needs to catch up offensively.

Last season, the Chargers were 4-6 in the Oakland Activities Association Gold Division. Lenington said he believes that record can be drastically improved, and his squad will compete for a championship.

McNeil remembers the Chargers’ last title, which came in 2011, her sophomore season on JV.

“I have no hesitation in thinking that we’re going to make it (happen),” she said.

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