STERLING HEIGHTS — The Utica Ford II softball team is off to a strong start, and Falcons coach Matt Joseph said last season’s run to the state quarterfinals has helped this year’s team immensely.
Ford II won five playoff games before falling 8-6 to Garden City in the state quarters.
“I think the experience we had last year has made us a much better team,” said Joseph, guiding a team that sat at 8-1, 3-1 Macomb Area Conference Red Division at press time. “I think we believe that we are one of the better teams, and that confidence has gone a long way in our success to start the year. We have had a great start to this season.”
Joseph said his players have worked extremely hard and stayed focused in a time when weather has caused a lot of disruptions and cancellations. He said the team’s pitching has developed into a strength and that the squad has hit the ball well, too.
Joseph called Ford II’s hitting the team’s strong suit, with consistency up and down the lineup, which allows the Falcons to constantly put pressure on the opposition.
Joseph said a number of players have performed well, including junior outfielder/pitcher Alex Sorgi, senior catcher Gabby Schefka (who will play at Western Michigan University), freshman pitcher/infielder Nikki Sorgi, junior outfielder Kayla Boland and junior catcher Leah Oldham.
“But we have to continue to improve in all aspects to compete in (the MAC Red),” Joseph said. “Defense is one area we need to get better at. If you pitch and play defense, you’ll be in every game.”
Being in every game is essential if Ford II wants to win the MAC Red. The league has been decided by two games or fewer in three of the past four seasons. Joseph said the division is extremely tough and called Romeo High the favorite.
The Falcons’ last division title came in 2012 when the team played in the MAC White.
“The balance of the league where everyone can beat anyone will make it an exciting race,” Joseph said.
One of Joseph’s goals is for the team to finish as high as possible in the league. One more win at press time would tie last season’s total in MAC Red play. The Falcons coach also set goals to continue to improve as a team, make a run in the state tournament and continue to have a “team first” mentality.
“The team right now is playing with a lot of confidence, and the players trust each other,” Joseph said. “It’s very gratifying to see everyone pull for each other and have a common goal of achieving success for our team.”
Ford II next hits the diamond for a doubleheader against St. Clair High May 7. Game one is set for 4 p.m. Game two is slated for 5:45 p.m.