Novi junior pitcher Emma Prahin slaps gloves with sophomore catcher Meagan Lowes.

Novi junior pitcher Emma Prahin slaps gloves with sophomore catcher Meagan Lowes.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Novi softball setting a standard behind senior core

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Novi Note | Published May 24, 2023

 Junior Emma Prahin barrels up a pitch during Novi’s game against West Bloomfield on May 15 at Novi High School.

Junior Emma Prahin barrels up a pitch during Novi’s game against West Bloomfield on May 15 at Novi High School.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


NOVI — While having a new coach and a new mindset heading into this season, Novi softball has the same goal as it looks to claim back-to-back district titles.

As senior pitcher Reganne Bennett, a University of South Carolina commit, battled injuries throughout her junior season, Novi never seemed to fully find its footing.

Now back and at full strength, Bennett and Novi (21-9-1) are looking like one of the teams to beat in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state tournament.

“I think last year we weren’t at full strength because Reganne was out for a while, and it affected us going through the season,” said senior infielder Lily Smith, a Ferris State University commit. “We didn’t have as much confidence as when she’s with us, and this year I think we’re back to full strength and we’re just having fun.”

Bennett, a first team all-state selection in 2021 and 2022, is one of three team captains alongside Smith and junior pitcher Emma Prahin, who forms one of the strongest pitching duos in Division 1 with Bennett.

While the team was excited to have its all-stater back on the mound, a promotion within the coaching staff would be the confidence booster the team needed heading into the year.

Catherine Marion, who served as the assistant coach last season under James Carlisle, took over the head coaching position this season, and Prahin said Marion brought a whole new mentality to the team.

“I think this year, too, with coach Cat (Catherine) being our new head coach, it really brought a new team mindset,” Prahin said. “We’ve been working well together compared to last year having some struggles with that. With her being our new head coach, that allowed us to start the season off strong.”

It also helps when you have a senior group as strong as the one Novi possesses with Bennett, Smith, Avery Meister — a Lakeland University commit — and Sarah Cho all serving as exceptional leaders.

Aside from what they do on the field, Novi’s four seniors have led by example in terms of getting those extra reps in during practice, supporting each other on a day-to-day basis, and establishing a family-like culture within the team.

Marion said the seniors’ impact this season will leave a mark on the softball program for years to come.

“The seniors really know what they’re doing,” Marion said. “They really care about the game, and they really care about helping the team become better. It’s not just for them and to help them get better or to help them improve their stats or win the game. It’s really to make the team a more positive atmosphere to be a part of, and it’s really nice to see.”

With that solidified culture, Novi’s young guns are playing for their seniors and juniors, and it’s become a well-oiled machine between veteran leaders and youthful talent on the field.

As Novi’s veteran group of seniors and juniors execute day-in and day-out on both sides of the field, don’t think for a second that the freshmen and sophomore groups aren’t going to make names for themselves as well.

While sophomores Mae Griffore, JoJo Curtiss, Avery Trombley and Meagan Lowes all returned for their second year on varsity, freshmen Izzy Hanna and Katelyn Perrine have flexed their muscles this season as well.

Like all young players, there are growing pains, but Marion said she’s been impressed with what the young core has shown so far.

“They’ve done a really good job,” Marion said. “Obviously, with their inexperience, there’s been a couple more errors or a couple more things we can work on, but they’re freshmen and they’ve done a good job.”

In search of their second straight district title — and what a send-off for the senior class that would be — Novi will open up district play at 10 a.m. June 3 against Walled Lake Western at Novi High School. The winner of Walled Lake Northern versus Walled Lake Central will face the winner of Novi’s matchup at 2 p.m. later that day at Novi High School.

In a one-game elimination, it’s anybody’s game, and Novi knows that after being viewed as the underdogs last season against Canton and Plymouth.

To Novi’s credit, a one-two punch of Bennett and Prahin on the bump can help Novi hang with the best teams at the state tournament.

“I think the confidence that we can do it and that we’ve done it in the past helps us go in confident, but not too overconfident because we’re playing new teams, but I think just the fact that we’ve been able to win two highly competitive games in one day helps us know that we can do it again,” Bennett said.