Published April 15, 2016

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Walking past the trophy case inside West Bloomfield High last week, softball coach Brandy Wilson noticed that there weren’t too many shiny memories representing the softball program displayed.

Then again, it’s hard to display something that was never earned.

And while the 2016 season is still in its infancy, Wilson, in just her second year with the team, is using that trophy case as a sort of motivation for her team and its program.

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Published April 15, 2016

ST. CLAIR SHORES — You’d think regular-season success would serve as an indicator of playoff prowess, right?

The St. Clair Shores Lakeview softball team would scoff at that notion.

The Huskies (1-0 at press time) have won four straight Division 1 district championships despite not finishing higher than third in the Macomb Area Conference White Division in any of those years. 

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Published April 12, 2016

With the graduation of the majority of last year’s squad, Madison Heights Lamphere softball coach Don Mullen knows only time will tell what kind of squad 2016 brings.

Mullen noted that a total of 25 girls are in the program between the varsity and JV, one of the smallest groups he’s had with the Rams.

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Published April 6, 2016

With half of the roster consisting of freshmen, Lathrup Village Southfield-Lathrup softball coach Sharnese Marshall knows her team is a work in progress.

“You never know how things look until you’re out on the field, but they’re very teachable and coachable. They’re learning fast, plus we have some good (leaders) in place that are helping,” Marshall said. “They come to practice every day and want to get better.”

A key component is senior captain Lenae Jefferson.

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Published April 5, 2016

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Times have been pretty good for Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s softball team in recent years, as the Knights have advanced at least as far as the state quarterfinals of the postseason tournament in each of the last three seasons.

Although Liggett did graduate some talent from last season’s squad, the program is in a strong position to have another successful run in its 2016 campaign.

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Published April 4, 2016

STERLING HEIGHTS — It’s been a strong five-year stretch for the Utica Ford II softball team.

The Falcons (25-15 overall, 4-6 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division in 2015) have averaged 25 wins per season over that span, including two district and two regional titles, making it all the way to the Division 1 state semifinals in 2014.

Falcons coach Matt Joseph said this year’s team has the pieces to continue that run.

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Published April 4, 2016

Madison Heights Bishop Foley softball coach John Ploskonka admittedly doesn’t pay much attention to wins and losses in the regular season.

The skipper has led the Ventures since 2008 and keeps his focus on peaking for the postseason.

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Published April 4, 2016

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Utica High’s softball program has enjoyed the view at the top of the Macomb Area Conference White Division for the last three years.

After making it to a regional final last spring, Utica is also bringing back a wealth of postseason experience with nine returning players.

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Published April 4, 2016

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Utica Eisenhower softball coach Bob Hall said his team is already on autopilot heading into the 2016 campaign.

With several seniors leading his team this season, Hall has the luxury of his players coaching themselves for stretches of practices.

“We have a well-rounded, automatic team,” Hall said. “We don’t have to do much. They know what they have to do and they know the expectations.”

Hall also said he believes he has his most athletic team in the time he has spent in the Eisenhower program.

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Published April 1, 2016

ST. CLAIR SHORES — St. Clair Shores Lake Shore senior outfielder Natalie VanDerHaegen said the players and coach Will Puvalowski set two clear goals for the softball program coming into the season.

“We want to win our division and we want to win a district title,” said VanDerHaegen, one of three senior leaders on the team, along with pitcher/infielder Anika Champine and catcher Jordan Miller. Each of those three is in her fourth year of varsity softball.

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Published March 30, 2016

WARREN — After a tear last season that saw the Warren Regina softball team win 24 of its last 29 games on the way to a Division 1 state title, Saddlelites coach Diane Laffey said she's ready to get the season going and that she thinks the team can carry the momentum of last season into 2016.

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Published March 30, 2016

Compared to this point last season, Southfield High softball is ahead of schedule.

It’s the second year under coach Tai Sharpley, and though the squad lost nearly a starting lineup worth of talent to graduation, the coach sees the potential in her current crop of Blue Jays.

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Published March 29, 2016

Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest softball coach Jeff Ludwig is optimistic.

Yes, the Crusaders graduated a lot of talent from last season, but Ludwig sees the pieces in place to continue the winning tradition.

“The early signs are good,” he said. “We have some transition time, but there are four solid starters that we can build the team around.”

Part of Ludwig’s confidence comes from the return of catcher Ali Magiera.

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Published March 24, 2016

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — How last season ended is still fresh in the minds of many players on the Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse softball team.

The Lancers’ season ended in a 4-0 loss to eventual Division 1 state champion Warren Regina in a June 6 regional semifinal. The setback ended a season that saw L’Anse Creuse finish 26-11 and win a second district championship in three years.

“If we would have had just a few things go our way, that game is a lot different,” said Lancers senior co-captain and third baseman Rachel Peete.

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Published March 21, 2016

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The last time Clinton Township Chippewa Valley’s softball team won a title, current head coach Claire Cannon was suiting up as a player for the program.

The last division championship came in 2007, when the program won the Macomb Area Conference Red Division  with a 12-0 record, finishing with an overall record of 31-3.

The season prior to that, Chippewa won both division and district championships.

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Published January 28, 2016

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse softball coach Lisa Downey has seen a lot in her 18 years leading the program.

She’s won league and postseason titles. She’s had players sign to play at the NCAA level in Division 2, Division 3 and the NAIA.

Downey, though, never had a player sign to play with a D-1 program right out of high school.

Until now.

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Published January 13, 2016

WARREN — Huddled in the Mayor's Office at Warren City Hall Jan. 13, members of Warren Regina's 2015 state championship-winning softball team were somewhat at a loss for words after Warren Mayor Jim Fouts presented the team with a proclamation honoring the squad for its state title win.

"I just think its an honor," Saddlelites senior outfielder Kristi Carlson said. "We just think about how we came together as a team and it makes all this really special."

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Published September 29, 2015

TROY — It’s a rivalry as good as any, and one enjoyed by students, athletes, fans, families and just about anyone else who associates with Troy High or Troy Athens for any reason.

And then there’s Troy High girls swim coach Paul Ellis — who just so happens to also be Troy Athens teacher Paul Ellis.

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Published September 15, 2015

Former Troy softball player Ashley Messina, who was a four-year starter for the Colts, said she used to talk about taking her game to the collegiate level with her dad.

While she said it was a goal to make it that far, after being transitioned from an infielder to a catcher in high school, she didn’t know if she was going to be “good enough” to get there.

As it turned out, Messina was good enough to fulfill her dream, as she signed on to play with Wayne State University last November.

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Published July 23, 2015

MOUNT PLEASANT — On a picturesque summer day July 22 — with the sun shining, blue skies and light wind — the best softball players in the state all took the field at the same time for the 34th annual Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association All Star Softball Games.

The games, in Division 1-4, took place at Margo Jonker Stadium on the campus of Central Michigan University.

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