Ford softball seeking deep postseason run

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published April 4, 2016

 Ford II next takes the field for a matchup with reigning Division 1 state champion Warren Regina at 4 p.m. April 12 at home. Pictured is Falcons junior catcher/infielder Gabby Dobroczynski behind the plate during the win over Fraser.

Ford II next takes the field for a matchup with reigning Division 1 state champion Warren Regina at 4 p.m. April 12 at home. Pictured is Falcons junior catcher/infielder Gabby Dobroczynski behind the plate during the win over Fraser.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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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.

“Confidence is a big part of it. It’s early, but the girls have shown a great deal of confidence,” said Joseph, whose team sat at 1-0 at press time. “We’re a young team, but the players have a lot of varsity experience. Hopefully, they can sustain that level of confidence for a full season.”

It’s early, but Joseph said he likes how his team is swinging the bat. Joseph said defense will be vital to his team’s prospects too.

“You need to play solid defense if you want to win a league title and if you want to have a long stay in the postseason, and we’re trying to accomplish both of those things,” Joseph said. “Not a lot of teams are going to score five or six runs a game, so we need to be able to make clean, routine plays and not give teams extra at-bats.”

The roster features just one senior — first base Lauren McLean. Ford II returns nine players from last year’s team, which fell 2-0 to Utica High in a district final.

The returnees include junior pitchers Nikki Sorgi and Emily Karas, who will be atop the rotation, according to Joseph. Sorgi is a three-year varsity player.

Junior catcher/infielder Gabby Dobroczynski, who is the vocal leader of the squad, will also contribute, according to Joseph, who added that Dobroczynski brings a lot of energy to the team and called that an important value for any squad.

“I don’t really know where it comes from,” Dobroczynski said. “I love playing so much that I get so excited all the time, and I guess that carries over to my teammates. I think this team has a lot of good players who can do some good things. I think we’ll have a pretty good year.”

A good year for Ford II would include a solid finish in the tough MAC Red Division, Joseph said. The Falcons finished fourth in the Red last season, third in 2014 and fourth in 2013. Ford II’s last division title came in 2012, when the team won the MAC White.

Joseph expects the Red to be strong. Defending division champion Macomb Dakota, Joseph said, returns all of its key contributors. Anchor Bay, Romeo High, Utica Eisenhower and St. Clair High  also field solid squads, according to Joseph.

“That’s the great thing about being in the MAC Red — just about every game is going to be a battle,” Joseph said.

Dobroczynski said she thinks camaraderie will aid the team as the season goes along. It’s a young group, but one full of players who have battled together for an extended period of time.

“As long as we play hard together and for each other, we’ll do really well,” Dobroczynski said.

Ford II will play in a Division 1 district with Dakota, Utica, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley and Sterling Heights Stevenson. Stevenson will host the district. The state playoffs begin May 31, and Dobroczynski likes her team’s chances to make a run similar to 2014.

“It won’t be easy, no. But if we just work together, string hits together and play good defense, we can make a run,” Dobroczynski said.
“You never know what can happen when you get to the state tournament,” Joseph said. “We just want to be playing our best come playoff time.”

Ford’s II’s next game is at 4 p.m. April 12 against reigning Division 1 state champ Warren Regina at home.

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