Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Jordan Smith releases a pitch April 16 in a game against Bloomfield Hills Marian at home.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Jordan Smith releases a pitch April 16 in a game against Bloomfield Hills Marian at home.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Notre Dame Prep softball healthy, winning with versatility

By: Jacob Herbert | Rochester Post | Published April 24, 2019


PONTIAC — Coach Betty Wroubel and the Pontiac Notre Dame Prep softball team are off to a strong start this season. At press time, the Fighting Irish were 10-2 overall.     

Prep won its first seven games of the season while not surrendering a single run. After back-to-back losses to Ortonville-Brandon and Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day, the Irish responded with three straight wins.

Two of the biggest reasons for the early success are Wroubel’s corner infielders: sophomore Elena Schwegman at third base and senior Sydney Newby at first base. Both players missed a large number of games last season due to injury. Having them back in the lineup healthy has been paramount to the team’s success.

Wroubel said Schwegman is an elite softball player who will be playing Division 1 college ball after high school. In a doubleheader against Bloomfield Hills Marian April 16, Schwegman was 4 for 5 with one home run and two RBIs.

As for Newby, who is batting near a .400 average so far this season, the coach said her senior is a steady presence around the team.

“She’s always got a smile on her face, so she takes a little bit of the pressure off,” Wroubel said. “She’s also a good catching first baseman. She can scoop them out of the dirt, that’s for sure.”

Another staple of the team has been pitcher Lauren Koenig. The junior used to catch for the Irish but had to move from behind the plate to in the circle to help bolster the team’s pitching.

She’s also dangerous at the plate. She went 6 for 6 in Prep’s doubleheader sweep of Marian. She had a pair of doubles, recorded seven RBIs and picked up the save in Game 2.

“I really have a nice team,” Wroubel said. “I’m really having fun with this team. They’re a great group of girls. They work hard and they do everything you ask.”

Versatility also has a lot to do with Prep’s hot start. Last year, the Fighting Irish ran into a lot of trouble with injuries and had to move players to positions they were not used to playing.

The losses of Schwegman and Newby troubled the team the most.

“When we had to put other people there, they did a good job, but then it weakened us the outfield; it weakened us at shortstop,” Wroubel said. “It was a bit challenging filling the two holes, but we’re tickled pink that we have a pretty solid team.”

Freshman Jordan Smith is already helping from inside the circle. In the first win over Marian, Smith, along with sophomore Meaghan Orloski, surrendered just two runs on five hits while striking out three.

While Smith helps as a pitcher, she also can play third and catch. Orloski can pitch, play shortstop and roam the outfield. With the exception of three players on the Prep roster, everyone can play multiple positions.

That’s something the Fighting Irish did not have last year, but it’s something that is helping them win this year.

“I think having versatility gives us depth,” assistant coach Molly (Coldren) Campbell said. “The girls just support each other. We can put them anywhere, and they either think it’s funny or they gather around and pick each other up. They all are really close, and I think that helps with how they perform on and off the field.”

As for season-long goals, Prep wants to win a district, something that has not been accomplished since 2016. This year, the Fighting Irish will host a Division 2 district with Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, Marian and Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day all attending.

They won’t meet until the regional final should they both make it, but another goal Campbell laid out is beating Richmond High. The Blue Devils have knocked the Irish out of the postseason the last three years and went on to compete in the state final in 2016 and 2017.

“This is a year where it feels like everything is coming together nicely, and I think we have a really good shot to give (Richmond) a good game and potentially take them out,” Campbell said.