STANTON — Two years ago, the Central Montcalm softball team won a district title. Last year, the Hornets struggled to just 12 wins.
The difference between the two years was experience. With eight returning players, new coach Bruce Nicholson is hoping to see a season more like two years ago.
“We have a lot of returning players, even though we are still young,” Nicholson said. “We would like to be over .500 and be in the top three of the league. We would like to reach the district final game and compete for that title.”
Returning players include Michaela Crooks (Sr.), Mikayla Studley (So.), Maddy Christensen (So.), Skylar Blaisdell (So.), Hanna Christensen (Jr.), Saydee Rowland (Jr.), Brook Hollenbeck (Sr.) and Paige Switzer (Sr.).
“We have good versatility. We have a lot of athletes that can play numerous places and are interchangeable in the batting order,” Nicholson said. “Our hustle and enthusiasm have been very good. Our girls appear hungry to improve from last year and get back to competing at the top of the league.”
Blaisdell, Rowland and Switzer all have experience on the mound.
“We feel we are going to pitch well and be strong up the middle defensively,” Nicholson said.
While Nicholson feels the defense will be strong up the middle he is looking for more consistency.
“We want to continue to improve our team defense,” he said. “We want to become consistent with the routine and not give away outs.”
Being his in his first season as coach, Nicholson is still learning his CSAA competition. He is expecting good teams from Lakeview, Reed City and Morley Stanwood.
“I have been advised that Lakeview should be very strong with a lot of returning players,” he said. “Reed City make a nice run in the state tourney last year and Morley Stanwood is always consistent and produces very competitive softball teams. We expect both to be good this year too.”
Overall, Nicholson likes the nucleus of his team.
“Our team is solid one to 11,” he said. “We feel that every game, every player can lead us and be the player that makes the contribution that leads our team to success.”
The Hornets will begin the season Monday April 8 at home against Saranac.