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May 8, 2013

Veterans and solid pitching setting up another strong season for Raiders

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Alexa Cherney has been a big reason for the Raiders’ success so far. The freshman pitcher was 5-1 with 45 strikeouts in 36 innings.

Pitching and defense.

They have the keys to success for the North Farmington softball team the past few years.

With Katy Severson dominant in the circle and solid group of seven behind her, the Raiders rolled to 64 combined wins in 2011 and 2012.

But with Severson now lost to graduation, coach Dave Brubaker was asked about the keys to success this season, and his answer was, well, “pitching and defense.”

“That’s how we’re going to do it.”

With a little offense sprinkled in, that’s exactly how North Farmington did it April 29 in a home doubleheader against Beverly Hills Groves.

Freshman pitcher Alexa Cherney was dominant in the first game, holding the Falcons to just three hits while striking out 10 in a 2-0 victory.

A couple hours later, with Cherney striking out nine more, the bats came to life in an 8-4 win.

At press time, the Raiders were 5-1 overall. The lone setback was a loss to Clarkston, in which North Farmington committed six errors.

“We have one loss, and we beat ourselves,” Brubaker said.

He’s not surprised at all by the quick start, though.

While Severson left some big shoes to fill in the circle, Cherney has “stepped right in and done the job,” Brubaker said.

The hard-throwing, right-hander has been dominant.

She’s 5-1, having pitched every inning, and had struck out 45 batters in 36 innings.

“She’s been amazing,” said junior Katie Wald. “We’re very confident in her and what she can do.”

Cherney, who conducts herself as a varsity vet, said she’s welcomed the challenge of anchoring the team and taking over the spot held so firmly for years by her predecessor.

“I’ve got a great team behind me,” she said. “I couldn’t do anything without them.”

The Raiders returned seven starters when 2013 began. And while the weather postponed many games, having that many girls back from a team that went 31-8 a year ago has been a big advantage.

“They came in knowing what to expect,” Brubaker said. “The only thing we’ve been struggling with is keeping everyone healthy. We only have 12 girls on the roster right now, and we’ve played some games with as few as 10.”

But when healthy and firing on all cylinders?

“We have the potential to be great,” he added.

“One game at a time right now,” Wald said. “We feel like we have a good team, one that can win the league. Then we move on and, hopefully, take the district, and then go from there.”

The Raiders were 3-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division and will be in the same district with defending champ Farmington Hills Mercy, Harrison, Farmington and Novi.

“It’s not going to be easy, especially getting past Mercy,” Brubaker said. “But I really like this group. They are focused and committed. It’s a great bunch of girls.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.