Lutheran Northwest softball ready to battle

By: Christian Davis | Rochester Post | Published March 29, 2016

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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.

The junior was an All-State selection after hitting .534 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs. Ludwig said the power numbers are all the more impressive considering she hit from the leadoff position.

“It’s just unheard of. In softball, everyone thinks slappers and speed at leadoff, but she put up big power numbers,” he said.  

Magiera catches for sophomore Madison Macy.

The hurler took over the starting job at the beginning of the postseason last year and led the Crusaders all the way to a Division 3 regional final.

“She’s a high-level softball player,” Ludwig said. “She’s very athletic and could easily start at shortstop if she wasn’t our starting pitcher. She has a lot of poise.”

The coach believes Macy gives the Crusaders an advantage in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue Division, where they finished second last season.

“She was kind of hidden last year. This year from the conference standpoint, she’s going to be our No. 1, but no one has had a chance to see her yet,” Ludwig said. 

Last season, Macy was 8-3 with 119 strikeouts in 81 innings of work. At the plate, she hit .430 with two home runs and 23 RBIs. 

Seniors Melanie Zambron (shortstop), Sara Seemann (third base) and Rebecca Johnstone (first base) provide veteran leadership.

With all the pieces in place, Ludwig sees his team finishing near the top of the Blue Division, citing Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett as the favorite.

As far as the postseason, Northwest has won four straight district championships, but has yet to advance past the regional round. Ludwig hopes to see that change.

“From a program standpoint, people know of us, but it wouldn’t hurt to do a little more,” he said. “We’re going to take it one step at a time. Focus on the conference and then let everything fall in line.”

Catch the Crusaders in their division opener, taking on Liggett at 4:30 p.m. April 14 on the road.

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