Lake Shore ready for bounce-back year

By: Jason Carmel Davis | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 14, 2017

 Lake Shore outfielder Allysa Agosta works on her swing. The Shorians’ next game is against Sterling Heights Stevenson at 4:30 p.m. April 20 at Kyte Monroe Park.

Lake Shore outfielder Allysa Agosta works on her swing. The Shorians’ next game is against Sterling Heights Stevenson at 4:30 p.m. April 20 at Kyte Monroe Park.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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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.

“I think we’re going to surprise people,” Puvalowski said. “Our batting order one through nine is good; we’re playing good defense. It just comes down to how we put it all together.”

Puvalowski said he sees this year’s group as the deepest he’s had, featuring 13 girls on the roster. Puvalowski said he’s not afraid to rotate players in and out, whereas in the past he would have been leery of doing so.

Senior pitcher Sarah Ratledge, a four-year varsity player who will play at the Indiana Institute of Technology next year, agrees that the team is in a good spot.

“I feel really good about the depth we have this year,” Ratledge said. “We can trust each other to step up and play well.”

Ratledge and senior infielder/outfielder Natalie Stepanenko are big reasons why Puvalowski is so optimistic. Stepanenko — who will play at Hillsdale College next year — is a solid hitter and playmaker in the field, and Ratledge is one of the better pitchers in the county, Puvalowski said.

Stepanenko is in her fourth year on varsity and hopes to end her career the way it started.

“It would be really cool to finish with a district title. It’d mean we finished our careers here strong,” said Stepanenko, as Lake Shore plays in a Division 1 district. “It’d be especially cool to do that for (Puvalowski), because we’re the first seniors he’s seen go all the way through the program. It’d bring things around full circle.”

Puvalowski said he thinks his team can compete for a district title, along with a MAC White crown. 

Utica High has won the last four divisional crowns, and Puvalowski expects the Chieftains and Sterling Heights Stevenson to be contenders this time around as well. 

“I think we’re going to compete. I think we’ll be pretty good,” Puvalowski said. “Our big focus is that we want to get better every day. This group is focused. We’re ready to play some softball, and we’re excited about the season.”

Lake Shore’s next game is against Stevenson at 4:30 p.m. April 20 at home.

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