WB softball team takes aim at first OAA crown in a long time

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published April 15, 2016

 West Bloomfield High’s Jenna Rogind fields a grounder during last week’s practice. The Lakers are about to launch into OAA White play.

West Bloomfield High’s Jenna Rogind fields a grounder during last week’s practice. The Lakers are about to launch into OAA White play.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Walking past the trophy case inside West Bloomfield High last week, softball coach Brandy Wilson noticed that there weren’t too many shiny memories representing the softball program displayed.

Then again, it’s hard to display something that was never earned.

And while the 2016 season is still in its infancy, Wilson, in just her second year with the team, is using that trophy case as a sort of motivation for her team and its program.

“We’re ready to change all that,” Wilson said of the lack of hardware. 

And the first, and main, objective for this year’s group is an Oakland Activities Association White Division title.

“I can’t even tell you how long it’s been since we won one,” Wilson said. “It’s been too long, I know that.”

The Lakers finished 11-5 in the White last year, good for third place. 

That was a huge step forward after going 5-5 in 2014 and 0-10 in 2013.

“To win the division, the girls have to believe in themselves,” Wilson said. “The girls have to be ready to play every game, because they are perfectly capable of being successful as a team. For us, it’s about getting every girl playing at their best.”

With very limited work outdoors in the early portions of the season, the Lakers were 0-3 at press time.

“In two of the three losses, we had one bad inning that really cost us,” Wilson said. “But we’re still figuring things out with this group. We haven’t been outside enough to get a solid feel for who’s going to go where or how the season is going to go.”

“With the players we have this year, and replacing some key girls (from) last year, it comes down to communication, trust and relying on one another,” senior third baseman Avra DeYoung said. “We have to get away from individuals trying to do too much by themselves.”

The Lakers brought back just four varsity veterans from last year’s squad, which is why Wilson knows she’ll need some early season patience.

It’s also why she scheduled some tougher teams at the front end, like Novi High, South Lyon High and Clarkston High, for example. 

“The first few games, these aren’t heartbreakers or disappointments,” Wilson said. “You play higher-level teams early on so we can see how to contend. We’re going to play teams like Clarkston this year to get a feel of what it’s like. I want these girls to see how I believe they can play against teams like that.”

West Bloomfield started OAA White play April 19, after press time. 

The Lakers are back in action April 21 against Auburn Hills Avondale.

“The big goal is the division title,” DeYoung said. “A lot of people are looking past us, which we enjoy. We’re going to be the underdog, and we’re going to have to prove to people how good we think we are. We’re confident we can.”

Asked where that confidence comes from, DeYoung said it is a matter of cohesiveness.

“We’ve got a group that’s been playing together for three or four years now,” she said. “We’re kind of all in that similar age range. The fact we’ve been playing together and know one another can go a long way.”

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