One Hit Wonders’ Eryn VanderVlucht pitches during a matchup June 11 at Baumgartner Park in Sterling Heights. VanderVlucht played collegiate softball at Albion College.

One Hit Wonders’ Eryn VanderVlucht pitches during a matchup June 11 at Baumgartner Park in Sterling Heights. VanderVlucht played collegiate softball at Albion College.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Sterling Heights 18+ Softball League new home for former high school and college players

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 13, 2024

  A player from The Rusty’s looks to apply the tag on a One Hit Wonders player in a matchup.

A player from The Rusty’s looks to apply the tag on a One Hit Wonders player in a matchup.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


STERLING HEIGHTS — There’s a point in time where every athlete has to come to certain crossroads, but the road doesn’t just close after high school or college.

There’s the decision to be made towards the tail end of high school of whether or not sports is in your future at the college level, and if you’re lucky enough to play at the college level, there’s another choice of calling it quits or pursuing other avenues on a smaller scale than the professional level.

For Lauren Scribner, a 2015 Warren Regina graduate, the crossroads for continuing her softball career came after graduating from Oakland University in 2019 and playing club softball for the school. Scribner was also a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state champion at Regina as the starting third baseman in 2015.

“Once we graduated, there was nothing else out there for fastpitch, because once you’re over 18 you can’t play fastpitch in any leagues,” Scribner said. “We joined slowpitch for a couple years, and it was fun to just be out with our friends and stuff, but it wasn’t really competitive, and the rules were a little different. It was a lot slower paced and stuff.”

When you spend your entire life playing a sport at a competitive level and constantly carrying that spirit and intensity, it’s difficult to keep the competitive fire inside tamed in a game of slowpitch softball.

So instead of pretending to be something they’re not, Scribner, best friend Alissa DiLodovico and a few of her former Oakland club softball teammates, such as Alexandra Jodzis, Brianna Jodzis and Kirstyn Maluchnik, took it upon themselves to create an environment where post-high school softball players could continue their love for fastpitch softball.

“We talked about starting a league, and at first we just talked about it, but then I emailed every city in Macomb and Oakland County, but nobody responded,” Scribner said. “This is 2020, so maybe COVID had something to do with it. The next year, I emailed all the cities again and emailed Sterling Heights a couple of times, and someone named Troy Nowotny got back to me.”

Nowotny, the recreation supervisor for the city of Sterling Heights, gave Scribner and company the task of assembling enough players for four teams.

When Scribner came back with nearly four teams ready to go, Nowotny knew the ladies were serious about the league and began making field reservations and setting up meetings with the founding members of the league to get the ball rolling.

Scribner said there wasn’t anything around to really model their league after or take notes on how to put it together, so everything was from scratch, which made it all the more exciting.

From handling umpires to collecting jerseys, courtesy of GearLine in Fraser, and setting up the league from the ground up, the Sterling Heights Women’s 18+ Fastpitch League, currently in its second season, takes the field at Baumgartner Park in Sterling Heights every Tuesday night from the end of May until the middle of August. The teams play 10 regular season games and a single elimination tournament to crown a championship at the end of the year.

“I can’t give enough credit to these ladies that come together,” Nowotny said. “They really put something together, followed through with it, and had the initiative to keep it going. They’re just very dedicated in what they do and how much effort they put into it.”

The league currently features four teams, with Pitches Be Crazy, One Hit Wonders, Scared Hitless, and the inaugural champions, The Rusty’s.

Gina Stennett, a member of The Rusty’s, played softball collegiately at Central Michigan University after winning a state championship at Regina alongside Scribner. Stennett is a graphic designer by trade, and while playing stellar softball on the field, she also designs the team shirts and championship shirts logos.

Like Scribner, Stennett, 26, gave slowpitch a try before reminding herself that she still had great years of competitive softball left in the tank.

“I think it’s the perfect combination of still playing fastpitch but having fun and being laid back,” Stennett said. “For me at least, slowpitch was too laid back. It was hard when you’ve played and you love it and you’re competitive. It can be hard to go into slowpitch when you’re still fairly young and have a good time. This is such a good situation. We’ve all played at some point, so we all have an understanding, and it’s still fastpitch even if it’s not how it was when we were all fresh. It’s that perfect combination.”

Stennett also gets to share the field again with her college teammate Rachel Vieira, who played high school softball at Clarkston.

It’s hard to have a team named The Rusty’s after winning the league championship last year, but Vieira said it was an adjustment getting back out there again.

“Hitting is still hard,” Vieira said. “There’s definitely some sore muscles that I wasn’t used to using in the first game. I haven’t sprinted in a while.”

One thing the players are used to is their family and friends cheering them on, and they pull quite the crowd each night.

If you closed your eyes and simply listened to the fans and the sound of the game, you would think you’re back at a high school varsity softball or a travel ball game with the amount of cheering from the fans and from teammates in the dugout.

It gives parents another chance of seeing their children continue their passion, and it gives significant others and friends a chance to see a side of someone maybe they’ve never seen.

“Just seeing parents say, ‘It’s so nice to watch my kid play again,’ that’s nice to see,” Brianna Jodzis said. “It’s a really good feeling.”

Jodzis and her twin sister, Alexandra, lost their father to brain cancer in September 2022, and the league named its championship tournament after him, with the James Jodzis Legacy Tournament crowning the league champion for the year. Winners receive championship T-shirts and a gift card.

The league grew in numbers this season with four teams fully solidified, and will only continue to grow as the word gets out.

“It’s something that we look forward to like crazy,” Scribner said. “Just yesterday when we were walking up to the field, there were some girls in the parking lot, and I asked her how she’s been and stuff. She said she could hardly sleep last night because she was so excited. Then I got to the field and was talking to another girl and she was telling me how she was so excited that she couldn’t sleep last night. Everyone is just so excited for it, because it’s something where once you play your last game, whether it be high school or college, you kind of know that was your nail in the coffin and that’s probably going to be your last game ever. This is a unique opportunity for people in the league that thought they’d never have a chance again.”

For more information on the league, email Scribner at