South Lake coach looking for balance

By: Jason Carmel Davis | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 22, 2019

 St. Clair Shores South Lake freshman pitcher Brooklyn Giroux winds up during an April 17 win over Madison Heights Madison. The Cavaliers’ next game is against Eastpointe High at 4:30 p.m. April 24 on the road.

St. Clair Shores South Lake freshman pitcher Brooklyn Giroux winds up during an April 17 win over Madison Heights Madison. The Cavaliers’ next game is against Eastpointe High at 4:30 p.m. April 24 on the road.

Photo by Sean Work

 St. Clair Shores South Lake senior Avery Salvia takes a cut during an April 17 win over Madison Heights Madison. The Cavaliers are out for their first Macomb Area Conference Silver Division title since 2014.

St. Clair Shores South Lake senior Avery Salvia takes a cut during an April 17 win over Madison Heights Madison. The Cavaliers are out for their first Macomb Area Conference Silver Division title since 2014.

Photo by Sean Work

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Scoring runs is obviously important, but that’s not what comes to mind when St. Clair Shores South Lake softball coach Dave Ahearn discusses what’s needed for his team to compete this season.

Ahearn, who led the Cavaliers to four straight Division 2 district titles from 2014 to 2017, believes strong play in the circle and the field are vital for the team’s prospects this spring. The coach has set a goal of competing for a Macomb Area Conference Silver Division title. The Cavs last won the MAC Silver in 2013 and 2014.

South Lake played two non-divisional games before the start of MAC Silver play, and Ahearn said he and his staff used the contests as a tune-up and a way to get younger players as much experience as possible. It also helped to get freshman pitcher Brooklyn Giroux some in-game reps. Ahearn believes Giroux will develop into a strong performer.

With no JV program, the Cavaliers have 18 players on this year’s roster.

“Any coach will tell you that pitching and defense are what wins ballgames,” said Ahearn, who is looking to improve on last season’s 6-12 finish. “Our pitching and defense have to improve if we’re going to compete with the teams in our division.

“Along with (Giroux), we have new players getting serious time at second and third base, and in the outfield. Nothing replaces experience, so those players will need to learn on the job and become more comfortable at their positions as the season moves along.”

Ahearn, who is in his 25th year with the program, said he’s pleased with how the team has come out of the gate this season.

South Lake — 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the MAC Silver at press time — has performed better at the plate than last season. The team plated 13 runs in a season-opening win over Hazel Park High and added another nine in a loss at New Haven High.

“We had some trouble scoring runs last year, so we made it a focus of our winter workouts,” Ahearn said. “While it was snowing outside, we were in the gym logging some serious cage time. It’s too early to tell if that work will pay off all season, but the first couple games have been encouraging.”

Also encouraging for the team’s prospects is the return of All-MAC catcher, senior Avery Salvia. Senior outfielder Olivia Beyer, junior infielder Mya Perron, along with seniors Briajah Tucker and Jenna Hall, and junior Juliyana Torres, are expected to contribute as well.

Ahearn believes Clinton Township Clintondale is the team to beat in the MAC Silver. Clintondale last won the league in 2014. New Haven has won the last three MAC Silver titles. Clawson High and Warren Fitzgerald could be factors as well, Ahearn said.

“Basically, you’d better show up ready for a battle every night in this division,” Ahearn said. “Our ultimate goal this year is to improve with every game and to enjoy every moment that we get to play this terrific sport.

“Hopefully that means that, as the end of May rolls around, we are in the hunt for a MAC Silver title and that we are really hitting our stride as we enter the state playoffs.”

South Lake’s next game is against Eastpointe High at 4:30 p.m. April 24 on the road.

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