Great expectations

First year softball program aims to make impact in MCCAA

By James Paxson, Sports Editor

Caitlin Fitzpatrick

Catcher Caitlin Fitzpatrick, #8, focuses on the ball during practice.

First year Women’s Softball Head Coach Rey Linares has his work cut out for him putting together the first ever women’s softball program at Schoolcraft. However, Linares is no stranger when it comes to building a winning team.

For the last seven years, Linares has been the softball coach of Melvindale High School in the downriver community. Melvindale was historically one of the worst softball programs in the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) before coach Linares hiring. Melvindale never had a record above .500 and within the last seven years Coach Linares made history. He successfully turned the underachieving program around and he and his team went on to the district championship in their first season under his helm. From that point on, Linares teams made appearances in districts every single year under his direction and appeared in the Regional Championship three times.

Linares has also coached for the class A fast pitch travel softball team for the last 15 years. He has been around the softball community for the last 20 years developing great relationships with players and coaches. His service within the softball community has helped players become successful on and off the diamond. It is through this expertise and reputation that will aid Linares as he builds his first year program.

Building the team
During Schoolcraft’s inaugural softball season, the team will need help from some of their most valuable incoming players. The sophomore duo of Elaine Gerou and Katlyn Mclntosh will be key assets to the team. Both have strong leadership abilities and will be standout players on the diamond this spring. The tandem will be servicing as co-captains to the 2016 squad.

“Elaine is a great pitcher who will help us out a ton in the long run and Kaitlyn is one of the best infielders I have seen,” said Coach Linares.

Infielders on the team include Kelsie Powell, Mariah Coleman, Rosie Gavin, Kerry Prowse, Kaitlyn McIntosh and Kassidy Lipinski. Outfielders include Alaina DeFrain, Molly Markiewicz, and Elaine Gerou. Coach Linares has stressed that the main goal for this season besides winning games is improvement. Having the team improve over the course of the season will be vital to the success of the program. There are plenty of goals for this upcoming season and each captain has expressed what they want from this season.

“We are looking to beat every team we play this season. The goal is to go out and play each game with the same intensity and hopefully win,” said McIntosh.

shelby-shelton

Utility player Shelby Shelton, #1, hits a softball off the tee at practice.

Tight competition
Competition will be tight for the Ocelots as they will face divisional opponents Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair County, Mott, Delta, Alpena and Henry Ford in the Eastern Conference of the Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA). Macomb was the MCCAA Eastern Conference champions in 2015 with a record of 19-1, 39-10 overall. Winning the division will an uphill battle for the young ocelots, but the team is up for the challenge.

The 2016 season kicks off on Feb. 28 at 12 p.m. at the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida against Jackson. The team will spend a week facing non divisional opponents before returning to Michigan to open their season at Jackson on March 19.The Ocelots will make their home debut on March 26 when they face Macomb for a double header starting at 1 p.m. at Ford Field in Livonia.

For more information in rosters, schedules and stats go to MCCAA.org.

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