From left, Troy High seniors Saeha Lederle, Lily Aldinger and Mackenzie Bachert pose together after a March 25 practice. The three are the only seniors on this year’s Colts team.

From left, Troy High seniors Saeha Lederle, Lily Aldinger and Mackenzie Bachert pose together after a March 25 practice. The three are the only seniors on this year’s Colts team.

Photo by Timothy Pontzer

Young Troy High softball team eyes start of season

By: Timothy Pontzer | Troy Times | Published March 27, 2018

TROY — With the arrival of spring, many view the season as a fresh start.

For local prep teams, that is quite literal as campaigns begin anew. Tom Calnen is preaching that mindset to his young roster and is looking to get back to the basics.

At the helm of the Troy High softball program since 1996, Calnen admitted that last year was tough. The Colts went 6-19 overall and saw another 13 games taken off the schedule due to bad weather. 

Armed with only five returning players and three seniors, the longtime coach said that this season is all about perspective.

“When you go through a year like last year that you didn’t want to go through, you certainly question why you’re doing this,” Calnen said after a March 25 practice. “If you’re not doing it for the kids and to help teach them, then why show up? For me, it’s nice because we’re back to coaching every pitch and helping these kids get better. Maybe when you have success for a while, you don’t pay attention to those little things like you did because it happened for so long. Now we’re back to trying to make that happen.”

Calnen said the youth and inexperience of his group excited him, allowing for opportunities to mold talent and build for the future. Calnen explained how his roster is eager to learn and find success.

“We decided that this would be a total blank slate. We want to write the book as we go, and as long as each chapter is better than the one before it, we’ve had a good season,” Calnen explained. “The beautiful thing about softball is you can get hot for about two and a half weeks at the end and everybody is happy. We hope to be putting it together there at the end of May. With hard work, we can be peaking at the right time.”

Calnen said he will lean on his three seniors to help guide the team: outfielder/catcher Mackenzie Bachert, outfielder Lily Aldinger and infielder Saeha Lederle. Each of the upperclassmen is entering her third year on varsity.

“I couldn’t have asked for better kids to show the younger players what it’s all about. They know how to work hard and get good grades,” Calnen said. “Saeha is fantastic; she hits the ball really hard and has great hands in the infield. Lily is a prototypical outfielder; she’s long and fast. Mackenzie is the Brandon Inge or Andrew Romine for us. She can play all the spots and is a great chemistry kid.”

Bachert echoed her coach’s mindset, saying the Colts are taking it one day at a time.

“We’ve set no expectations for ourselves,” Bachert said. “We lost some seniors and some other players, so we just want to start new and see what we can do. We just want to keep growing as a team and improving. I think our biggest strength is that we’re really encouraging of each other and are super positive.”

Aldinger agreed.

“Being able to work together is the key for us. We’re really close,” Aldinger said. “As the season goes on, I think we can get even closer and that can help a lot. We don’t have any expectations, but we just want to make sure we’re getting better each game and, that’s all that matters.”

Lederle believes the togetherness of Troy to be its top trait.

“We have great chemistry on this team,” Lederle said. “It’s a lot better than last year. We’re all friends even though there’s a lot of different grade levels here. We’re not separating into cliques. I want us to be really close and not exclude anyone. If we do that, we can win.”

On the mound, Calnen said, he will go with a pair of juniors in Abby Short and Sara Lewandowski. A transfer from Clawson High, sophomore Allie Clapp is recovering from an injury and will be available to throw toward the end of April.

“I’ve got two pitchers that are working really, really hard,” Calnen said. “They’re not necessarily going to throw it by people, but they can spin it really good and the ball is moving. I’m really happy with their work ethic.”

Despite the lack of expectations, Calnen said he does expect to do one thing this year.

“I just want to make sure these girls are having fun. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about,” Calnen said. “That’s my main job. I think we’ll hit the ball really well, and we have the ability to pick it up and field it. Sure, we’re really young, but I’m really excited to see what we can do.”