Young Lake Shore softball squad battles growing pains

By: Sue Teggart | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 25, 2011

 St. Clair Shores Lake Shore freshman Jordyn Dunlap prepares to throw in a ball during a May 16 game against league and MAC White rival Lakeview. The Shorians lost 6-5 to the Huskies.

St. Clair Shores Lake Shore freshman Jordyn Dunlap prepares to throw in a ball during a May 16 game against league and MAC White rival Lakeview. The Shorians lost 6-5 to the Huskies.

Photo by Deb Jacques


ST. CLAIR SHORES — The St. Clair Shores Lake Shore softball team is facing a tough challenge in the Macomb Area Conference White Division.

Just three seniors rejoined the Shorians from last season, outfielder Sara Coppola, shortstop Hannah Rockensuess and catcher Hanna Anderson.

While Lake Shore has solid leadership from its seniors, the squad is young and inexperienced with four freshmen joining the starting lineup.

“We do have a young team,” coach Cris Belanger said. “They’re learning still to play together. If they weren’t good enough, they wouldn’t be up here, and all four of them are good enough. They just need to go out and play relaxed, and like they know how to play.”

Lake Shore, which was 3-7 in the MAC White at press time and 6-10 overall, is still trying to build toward its best ball.

“We make a lot of mental mistakes,” Belanger said. “They’re going out there every day playing hard. There are a lot of mental errors we’re making that we shouldn’t be.”

“If they play more relaxed, they can be really good,” said Coppola, a captain, about the young players. “If they’re more confident in themselves on the field, it gives us a better energy and makes us a better team. There are so many of them, and they’re a big part of the team.”

Belanger said cleaning up those mistakes would come with experience.

“I think the more games they play together the more they will understand each other’s tendencies,” she said. “They’ll know each other’s moves and how to help each other on the field, and their play will get better on the field. This team is solid, we just need to go out and not make those mental mistakes, play together and hit the ball.”

Belanger said the squad must also strive for consistency.

“We’ve played games where we’ve beat Eisenhower 11-0 then we’ll get beat 8-0 because we’ll make those errors we didn’t make against Eisenhower,” Belanger said. “Some days we’ll do well hitting, and the next day we can’t hit, but our fielding is great. We need to be more consistent. We need to make sure that we’re playing both games each inning, each out, and play that straight through with every single game.”

Despite some first-year varsity nerves to work out, the Shorians’ freshmen are making an immediate impact at the plate.

“We’re hitting the ball really solid,” Belanger said. “(The freshmen) are making a definite impact. They’re hitting is very strong. They’ve all played some type of travel ball, and they’re hitting has been a big contribution.”

“A lot of these freshmen are a big reason as to why are bats are going right now,” Coppola added. “They may be a little nervous in the field, but when they go up to bat, they really have stepped up this year.”

As the regular season winds down, the Shorians turn their focus to the state tournament. Last year, Lake Shore won a district title in Division 2. This season, the squad moves into D-1. The Huskies are hosting a district that includes Lake Shore, Roseville High, Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South. District play runs from May 31 to June 4.

“I always tell the girls to play as hard as they can and do the best job they can do,” Belanger said. “I don’t expect to walk in there and stomp all over anybody. We played Lakeview twice, and they’re in the MAC White, so this will be our third time seeing them if we play them. Grosse Pointe North, Lakeview and us are all in the White together, and we’re all going into the district together. Any team can be beaten on any given day, but when you play a team three times, it’s a lot different.”