Eisenhower optimistic heading into spring campaign

Eagles expect to be more athletic in 2016

By: Thomas Franz | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 4, 2016

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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.

To take advantage of that, the Eagles have been placing a greater emphasis on slap hitting to move runners and utilize team speed on the base paths.

“We’re looking to be quicker on the bases and quicker in the field. We don’t have to go for power hitting as much. We can run and make things happen,” Hall said. “We’re looking to generate runs more instead of producing runs by way of big hits. We still have a good mix of girls who can hit like that, but I have a feeling we’re going to generate more runs.”

Eisenhower returns eight players from a team that went 21-15 last year.

Senior Madison TenHopen, fresh off winning a state powerlifting championship, anchors the Eagles at third base and catcher.

Sophia Hall, who will play next year at Macomb Community College, will contribute at second base. Madylen Zweng, who may be Eisenhower’s leadoff hitter, will join Hall in the middle infield at shortstop.

Junior Sarah Wojcik will lead the Eisenhower outfield in center field.

“She’s lightning out there. She can get on anything,” Hall said of Wojcik, who has verbally committed to Hillsdale College.

Outfielder Jenna Rastigue has committed to play at Adrian College, and sophomore Malynn Kosnik will help at catcher. Senior Claire Lovins will play first base, as well as in the outfield.

The Eagles also feature a pair of college-bound pitchers in senior Natalie O’Reilly and sophomore Kiersten Korber. O’Reilly has earned All-County honors the last two years and will play at Cleary University next year. Korber has verbally committed to Oakland University.

“Kiersten is throwing well. She’s young, so obviously she’s gaining experience with every pitch she throws in practice and games. She can throw hard, and she has the stature to be a dominant pitcher,” Hall said.

Altogether, Eisenhower has six seniors, four juniors and four sophomores.

“I’m excited. We’re young. I feel we’re very athletic, probably one of the more athletic teams we’ve had in a while, and we’re hoping to make a mark this year, and I think we can,” Hall said. “We have 14 girls on our roster, and I see all of them playing. Every girl should be in the lineup. If they don’t start one game, they should be in the lineup the next.”

In the MAC Red, Eisenhower will have to contend with Romeo High, Macomb Dakota, St. Clair High, Utica Ford II and Anchor Bay High.

“The MAC Red has been a dominant league in this state since I’ve been a part of this program, and I don’t see it being any different this year knowing all of the talent that’s out there,” Hall said.

Eisenhower opens its season April 11 at Rochester Adams.

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