The fact that Utica softball coach Deonna Giacona cited winning a Macomb Area Conference White Division title as a goal for her team this season shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody — a lot of coaches would probably say the same.
But in the Chieftains’ case, coming away with a league championship may carry a different kind of significance than it would for other programs.
To the best of Giacona’s knowledge, Utica’s softball program has never won a league title, and if it has, she thinks it was “years and years” ago. The Chieftains have been within striking distance of making program history in each of the last two seasons, finishing in second place in both their 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
At press time, Utica was 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the MAC White.
“It would be amazing,” she said of winning the title. “Not only for Utica softball, but Utica the school. I think that would increase the productivity of our program.”
Going after such a lofty goal can be made easier by having players who don’t take a casual approach, and Giancona said she thinks she has just that with her Chieftains.
While her players do like to have fun, according to Giancona, they also take it seriously enough that the majority of them would like to go on to play at the college level.
In fact, seniors Kayla Kane (University of Detroit Mercy), Brittany Misiak (Macomb Community College) and Jenna Lucente (Jackson Community College) have already committed to college programs. Julia Davis is also a senior and plans to study at the University of Michigan.
“We have four seniors that are kind of leading the pack and showing the freshmen what to expect,” she said. “They show leadership on and off the field. They’re very hard-working. They know what they want. … If they continue to play the way they’ve been playing, and we can keep our heads straight, I think that goal’s (going to) be accomplished.”
While Giacona may miss her seniors, come season’s end, she is pleased with some of the young talent on her roster. Giancona would like to have those players have something to build off of by seeing what a championship team looks like.
Regardless of how this season may play out, Giacona is optimistic that the future has the potential to be successful.
The roster includes two freshmen (Jordan Bianchi and Addison Breeding), two sophomores (Ashley Mauser and Andraya Ackerman) and three juniors (Sarah Mauser, Delaney Maki and Megan Sorensen).
“I have a lot of talent in our main, core spots. We have great JV coaches, and they’re working really hard on trying to build a JV program,” Giacona said. “We have good freshmen coaches, as well, that are trying to set the standard for what to expect once these students move up into the ranks.”
Up next, the Chieftains take on Lake Orion High at 4 p.m. May 6 in a doubleheader at Lake Orion.