Warren Mott head coach Jim Carlisle talks to his team.

Warren Mott head coach Jim Carlisle talks to his team.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Confidence has Marauders softball returning program to its roots

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Warren Weekly | Published May 17, 2024

 Warren Mott freshman Sharon Becroft delivers  a pitch.

Warren Mott freshman Sharon Becroft delivers a pitch.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


WARREN — As Warren Mott softball head coach Jim Carlisle entered his second year in the dugout, he couldn’t help but notice a particular dynamic his 2024 team carried.

Coming off a 4-20 season and placing last in the Macomb Area Conference Gold for the second year in a row, Mott’s roster could use a senior or two to help shape the team and create a leadership presence for younger players to lean on.

Instead, Carlisle was handed his youngest roster ever in his 33 years of coaching, featuring six juniors, six sophomores, and two freshmen — but no seniors.

That meant the juniors had to become leaders and the sophomores had to grow up quickly, and junior shortstop Addison Brown is someone Carlisle is leaning on to be a coach on the field.

“Coach instills confidence in us,” Brown said. “The first two years, we were a young team, so everyone was like, ‘Oh, we’re playing varsity.’” It’s a scary thing to go from eighth grade to being a freshman on varsity. He talks us through things and instills that confidence in us.”

A team captain, Brown has been a consistent contributor for Mott softball. She’s seen the trials and tribulations of a softball program that went 2-26 in 2022 and then endured another underwhelming season.

Brown has been through the motions and understands what varsity softball looks like and what it takes to be a better ballplayer.

With her experience and her talent, Brown at the shortstop position is what brings a sense of comfort to the rest of the team.

“She’s a tremendous presence on the field,” Carlisle said. “She has a calming effect on the kids. When Addy is out there, we’re good.”

Then there are players like freshman Sharon Becroft, the ace of the rotation already in her first year of varsity. Becroft handles the bulk of the innings for the Marauders and has looked nearly untouchable in the circle.

“She’s a freshman that throws like a senior,” Carlisle said. “You can’t rattle her. She can get rocked for eight hits and you would never know. She gave up two home runs against Center Line and then gave up only four hits the rest of the game. She’s just very, very mentally tough.”

Becroft has plenty of help behind her with juniors Allison Phillips (CF) and Payton Ramsey (LF/RF) controlling the outfield with sophomore team captain Kendra Koski playing the hot corner at third base and junior Megan Melnyk behind the plate.

Junior team captain Zainab Sobh, sophomore Aubrie Vojnov, and sophomore Tyla Thomas have also contributed innings on the mound for Mott.

As effective as Mott has been on the field, the red-hot Marauders’ approach at the plate has been the driving force of its success.

It all goes back to the confident mentality of each player, and other teams are seeing it when they have to face Mott’s lineup.

Melnyk has been everything you’d want out of a catcher at the plate, supplying power and driving in runs while sophomore Miley Xiong, Koski, Ramsey, and Becroft also have been consistent contributors.

Just when the opposing teams start to sit on their heels, players like Phillips and Vojnov execute their short game to perfection with well-timed bunts and the ability to swipe bags on the base path.

There’s just a different feeling in the air around Mott softball this year, and the players are feeding off it.

“There’s a new confidence and a new attitude that we know we can do this, and we know we can put up a good fight,” Koski said. “That’s just been a big change.”

Although the Marauders picked up only four wins last season, the record didn’t necessarily reflect what this team was capable of doing.

They were young, and one thing young teams struggle to do is finding ways to win and closing out games when they have the lead.

One-run losses were detrimental to Mott last season, but it also showed vast improvement to a group of girls desperately hoping for some success.

Last season answered their call, and Carlisle said the attitude shifted for his team right after last season concluded.

“The kids could see it,” Carlisle said. “They could see the forest through the trees. They were really optimistic about this year. There was a lot of excitement, and it paid off.”

From beating teams they were getting mercied by in past years to catapulting to second in the league, it’s safe to say Mott is one of the most improved softball programs in Macomb County.

There’s still work to be done, and the team understands that, but they’re closing in on returning the Mott program to what it once was — a consistently successful program.

“This program was something before us, and we’re rebuilding it to what it was before,” Sobh said.

Maybe the young Marauders can even bring home a district championship in the process, which hasn’t been done since 2005.

“These kids weren’t even born,” Carlisle said. “It’s up on the banner and I told the kids, ‘That’s our goal right there.’” We want to win a district this year. I told them it would be a tremendous accomplishment because they weren’t even born.”

With a district containing Oak Park, Detroit Renaissance, and Ferndale, it’s certainly an obtainable goal.

They’re hungry, they’re motivated, and they’re ready to prove what they can do. More importantly, they’re all going to be back next year, so it’s time to start getting used to Mott being a consistent threat in the MAC.

“This year, we’ve all just become so much closer,” Sobh said. “Next year, we know we’re going to have each other. There’s already talk of, ‘Next year, we can do this to get better and work on this in the offseason.’”