Players look to gel into new line-up after softball squad loses eight seniors to graduation
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The 2017 varsity girls softball squad from Grayling High School will look a lot different than the 2016 version.
“We lost eight girls to graduation from last year, so there’s going to be a lot of position jumping,” said Mark Golnick, who’s in his third season as coach of the program.
The Vikings will go from being a senior-heavy team last year to a junior-heavy squad this year. The varsity softball team has 15 players this year: five seniors, nine juniors, and one sophomore.
The softball squad started its official practice sessions for the 2017 season on Monday, March 13, and the weather limited the Vikings to indoor work for the two weeks of practice prior to spring break.
“We’re looking forward to getting outside,” Coach Golnick said. “Only so much you can do inside the gym.”
Despite having to practice inside, Coach Golnick said he was “real happy” with the early preseason sessions.
“It went real well,” Coach Golnick said. “The kids are showing a lot of enthusiasm. They’re already blending well together. I think it helps it’s my third year with varsity; I think the kids are buying into what we want to accomplish.”
Offseason work helped the squad get ready for the recent practices and upcoming season.
“Last year we ran a summer program, played Harrison and St. Mary’s in July, had a lot of the younger kids there. We had open gyms after the first of the year,” Coach Golnick said. “We had probably the best turnout since I’ve been there.”
Coach Golnick said assistant coach John Junttila also worked with pitchers “once or twice a week” during part of the offseason.
With so much turnover from last year to this season, one of the team’s concerns this year is its defense. The squad has “a lot of competition” right now for positions.
“In order for us to win games, we gotta play good defense, play a lot of small ball, put pressure on the defense,” Coach Golnick said. “If we can do those things, we’ll win games.”
Coach Golnick said strengths of the squad include returning pitchers and catchers, and more team speed.
“Overall, this is a faster group,” Coach Golnick said.
Goals for the program?
“We want to finish in the top three in the conference and win a district,” Coach Golnick said.
The varsity softball team’s season opener was slated for March 23 at Harrison, but weather conditions forced that doubleheader to be cancelled.
The squad’s opening day is now slated for Thursday, April 6, at 4:30 p.m. vs. Kingsley. The doubleheader will be held at Grayling High School (weather and field conditions permitting).