Utica softball eyeing fourth consecutive division title

By: Thomas Franz | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 4, 2016

 Utica High senior Jordan Bianchi throws during a practice drill March 30.

Utica High senior Jordan Bianchi throws during a practice drill March 30.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Utica High’s softball program has enjoyed the view at the top of the Macomb Area Conference White Division for the last three years.

After making it to a regional final last spring, Utica is also bringing back a wealth of postseason experience with nine returning players.

“It was a great experience, and the returning girls want it again,” Utica coach Deonna Giacona said of the team’s postseason success. “They’re hungry for it, and they know what it takes to get there. They know it’s not going to be an easy battle.”

Senior pitcher Sami Torongeau, who started at first base last year, will be one of Utica’s key contributors.

“Sami has taken the change just fine. She’s an amazing team player. Over the summer we communicated through offseason stuff, and she told me she’d do whatever I needed her to do,” Giacona said. “She’s all about the team and continuing our winning streak.”

Torongeau will continue her softball career at the University of Michigan-Dearborn next year.

Senior Jordan Bianchi, who has committed to Siena Heights University, will be moving from shortstop to center field.

“She’s excited to be back in the outfield this year and taking charge of everything that happens in the grass,” Giacona said.

Addison Breeding will start at second base after playing in the outfield a year ago. Natalie Happel, a senior transfer, will play shortstop and pitch.

“She’s going to bring a lot to us offensively and defensively when we need her to step in and take over for Sami (Torongeau),” Giacona said.

Senior Ashley Michol is in her second year on the varsity team at Utica despite battling multiple sclerosis.

“If we can keep her symptoms in check and she’s ready to go, I completely trust her. When it’s her time to go, she knows when her number is called and she’s going in,” Giacona said of Michol. “She knows what she has to do, and she’s going to step up for us this year.”

Giacona said she likes her team’s balance in terms of experience with five starting seniors. One of the newcomers who Giacona expects to contribute is freshman Caitlyn Mauser, who plays in the outfield and at second base.

To claim a fourth division title in a row, Utica will again have to get past Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, Sterling Heights Stevenson, St. Clair Shores Lakeview, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North and St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.

“I think it will be pretty even across the board. It has been for the last two years. It’s going to be a fight. We have a lot of good teams in the White; we’re not too far behind the Red. I know a lot of the White teams play a lot of the Red teams to get our girls a look at what’s above us,” Giacona said. “It’s going to be another fun and interesting season.”

Utica’s first divisional game is April 21 against Lake Shore at home.

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