St. Al softball bounces back in summer practice, scrimmages

Published 10:00 am Friday, July 8, 2016

A year ago the St. Aloysius softball team was dealt a gut-wrenching blow.

The Flashes just wrapped up their spring season in the MHSAA before the school abruptly joined the MAIS, thrusting them into a new season at the beginning of August. This left the Flashes with virtually no offseason and resulted in an abysmal performance despite the effort given.

Now St. Al has had time to prepare for their season opener in August by overstocking its summer schedule with scrimmages against surrounding conference schools, including a hometown friendly with Porters Chapel Academy at Bazinsky Park Thursday.

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“I’m looking forward to the season,” Reeder said. “It’s a lot hotter than what we’ve been used to playing in but at least we have the summer to work on that and a little more time to prepare.”

The friendly scrimmage – put on by friends and coaches Candace Reeder and Amanda Yocum of St. Al and PCA respectively – is to help the new players get acclimated to the team one last time before August.

“I appreciate her for taking the initiative and setting that up for us,” Reeder said. “It’s just a scrimmage. We’re old friends and we just want to help the girls get better.”

Reeder is also taking advantage of the seemingly open practice periods of the MAIS, whereas the MHSAA mandates athletic activities must cease.

“With MHSAA we had a certain time period before we start the season and can’t start practice until the beginning of February. With MAIS we can really just practice when we need to and when we want to,” Reeder said. “It’s been nice to be able to have that sort of freedom to do what thought we needed to do and continue to work.”

Building up a pitcher is where the Flashes seem to struggle the most, but they have fine-tuned their hitting through batting drills. Hitting has been a reliable source of success for St. Al for the past few seasons.

With the loss of five players, the focus has been on tinkering with the defense and placing players in correct positions on the field.

Michelle Howington has made her return to the field after tearing the capsule in her kneecap in the first game last season.

“I was pitching and I was going to do a run down and I went to throw it and I buckled my knee,” Howington said. “I thought I tore my ACL but thankfully I didn’t.”

After Howington underwent physical therapy to rehab her knee, getting back into the motion of pitching was a smooth transition. She said she believes it’s the same if not better than before her injury. As a senior, Howington said her focus has been on helping her team to eradicate last season’s struggles and play to its fullest potential. The ultimate goal for her team is to make a deep run in the MAIS playoffs.

The struggles of last season are behind the team.

Their attitude is powerful with strong confidence in being able to win more games.

“Last season was really tough on them I thought that they showed their character,” Reeder said. “I think that’s what they have going for them more than anything is that. They never give up and they really can’t stand to lose.”