Published May 5, 2017

MADISON HEIGHTS — In many ways, this season could already be considered a success for the Madison Heights Madison softball team.

At press time, the Eagles were 2-4 overall and 2-2 in the Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division, putting them just one game back from division leader Warren Fitzgerald.

Madison’s two wins have already matched its win total from last season (2-17 overall).

Coach George Barndollar wants more for his program, including a division championship, which could attract more players to the team in the future.

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Published May 3, 2017

FRASER — Fraser High softball coach Matt Fishburn said it has been too long since the program won a district championship.

Although the Ramblers won a division title as recently as 2012, the program’s last Division 1 district championship came in 2000.

With Fraser hosting a district tournament later this season, Fishburn hopes this is the year the program can break through and win a postseason title.

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Published May 3, 2017

ROYAL OAK — Erica Hayworth inherited a talented group of players when the first-year skipper took over the Royal Oak High softball program.

So, before the first day of practice was ever held, she had a certain expectation for herself and her new team.

So far, the Ravens haven’t disappointed.

“We’ve expected everything that’s happened,” Hayworth said last week. “We’re a young team, but we’re also a very good team.”

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Published May 2, 2017

It was just two seasons ago that Grosse Pointe South’s softball program finished 12-0 in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division and 29-6 overall.

Although there have been some struggles since then — as South finished 2-10 in the MAC Blue last year (15-19 overall), and at press time was 0-3 in division play (5-9 overall) this season — coach Bill Fleming said “we’d like to get our title back this year.”

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Published April 28, 2017

WARREN — Last season, Warren Cousino’s softball program won its first Division 1 district championship since 2007.

Perhaps even more impressive than the feat itself was the team the Patriots beat to earn their district title.

Aside from being the defending state champion, Warren Regina was riding a streak of at least 16 consecutive district titles, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

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Published April 28, 2017

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Sitting in his office following an April 26 loss, Clinton Township Clintondale softball coach Jim Steffler lets out a heavy sigh.

He is not upset by the defeat, which moved his club to 0-3 at press time and 0-2 in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division. Instead, he is dismayed by an injury update.

“I just found out that my best player, our top pitcher, could potentially be out for the season,” Steffler said.

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Published April 26, 2017

Although Liana Easterby is in just her first year as Berkley High’s softball coach, she entered the position with plenty of familiarity with the program.

Easterby was an assistant to Megan Colligan for the past four seasons.

After Colligan left the Berkley School District to pursue an opportunity in the special education field, Easterby was given the opportunity to lead the Bears, with Colligan remaining with the program as an assistant.

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Published April 25, 2017

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s softball program has advanced at least as far as the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs each of the last four years.

The Knights are once again proving themselves to be capable of making a deep playoff run.

At press time, Liggett was the No. 2 ranked team in Division 3 according to the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association, behind only Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.

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Published April 18, 2017

ROCHESTER HILLS — Tom Hayman has a short commute to work.

The second-year coach of the Rochester Hills Stoney Creek softball team, Hayman exits the front door of the home he has owned for a decade and briskly walks for 45 seconds, arriving at the Cougars’ home dugout.

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Published April 18, 2017

SOUTHFIELD — There are young teams, and then there’s what Jamie Glinz is working with.

There are coaches who say they have an abundance of youth, and then there’s the Southfield A&T softball team.

“Eight of our nine starters are freshmen or sophomores,” said Glinz, the Warriors’ coach. “On top of that, we don’t have anyone that’s ever pitched before.”

Glinz paused, not to be dramatic, but just to drive home the point he was trying to emphasize.

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Published April 18, 2017

During his tenure as Madison Heights Lamphere’s softball coach, Don Mullen estimated that the Rams have won five or six district championships.

But despite experiencing some success at the district level, there is a different title he’d also like to bring to the program this season.

The Rams have their eyes set on the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division championship. At press time, they were 1-0 but hadn’t played a game in the division.

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Published April 17, 2017

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Boasting seven returning members, the Utica Eisenhower softball team has high expectations entering the new season.

The Eagles have been perfect out of the gate, earning a 3-0 record at press time.

“It is a good start, showing what we can do in nonconference games,” said coach Bob Hall. “It definitely gives us confidence going forward, especially with some of the pitching and hitting we’ve been getting.”

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Published April 14, 2017

ST. CLAIR SHORES — St. Clair Shores Lake Shore softball coach Will Puvalowski has had a great deal of success in three years at the helm.

He guided the team to a Division 1 district title in 2014 and a Macomb Area Conference White Division crown in 2015. 

Now Puvalowski is charged with helping the team rebound from a 14-17 campaign last season.

The Shorians coach — who enters the season with a 56-41 overall record — believes the team has the personnel to have a strong season.

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Published April 14, 2017

CENTER LINE — Over the last handful of years, the Center Line High softball team is having a run of success that has not been seen before by the program.

And coach Ron Thomas and his players hope the streak continues.

The Panthers, 2-0 at press time, have won Division 2 district championships in four of the last five seasons, with 2014 being the only exception. Center Line — which went 21-9 last season — won the program’s lone regional title in 2015.

So what’s the reason behind the program’s success?

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Published April 3, 2017

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — After finishing in fourth place in the Macomb Area Conference White Division in 2014, and third the last two seasons, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley softball coach Claire Kapral said she is hoping to make a big push this year.

Kapral has some girls who are “ready to go,” and she thinks this season could be a promising one.

This is her fourth season as the team’s coach, and she feels like she can now call the program her own.

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Published March 28, 2017

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Following the best season in program history, Macomb Dakota softball has high hopes for the upcoming season.

The Cougars posted a 38-3 record last year and in the process captured the Macomb Area Conference Red Division title for the second straight year. In the playoffs, the club advanced the furthest it ever had, finishing as the Division 1 runner-up.

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Published March 27, 2017

EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe East Detroit softball team has seen its record improve in each of the last four seasons, and senior shortstop/catcher Mashala Grimes believes the program’s improvement will continue into this year.

The Shamrocks went winless in 2012, won three games in 2013, eight in 2014, 17 in 2015 and went 24-8 last season.

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Published March 23, 2017

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse softball team is in the midst of a run of success that longtime coach Lisa Downey hopes will continue in 2017.

The Lancers start the season against Utica High at 4:30 p.m. March 29 at home.

From there, the team will embark on what it hopes is a sixth straight 20-win season.

Since 2012, L’Anse Creuse has averaged 24.4 wins per season, including last year’s 24-10 mark. The team has finished with a winning record every year since 2008.

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Published March 9, 2017

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse softball and girls basketball coach Lisa Downey loves what she does.

Downey, in her 23rd year as a teacher and softball coach with the Lancers, relishes the opportunities she’s been given so much that she remembers her very first coaching job 35 years ago.

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Published July 18, 2016

MACOMB COUNTY — Softball season concluded for teams from the Macomb Area Conference on the last day of the MHSAA calendar, which included Macomb Dakota competing for a Division 1 state championship.

Eight teams from the conference also claimed district titles this spring.

Shortly after the conclusion of the regular season, coaches from across the conference released their decisions on which athletes earned All-Conference and league Most Valuable Player honors, as well as each division’s Coach of the Year and team Sportsmanship award winner.

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