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April 2, 2013

After struggle in 2012, Volpe says her Farmington squad is set to rebound

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Farmington’s Trycia Piontek is pictured during a March 28 practice at the school. The Falcons struggled last year with a young team but brought back just about everyone for 2013.

Stephanie Volpe is all about setting realistic goals — ones her team has a legitimate shot at seizing.

She’s also a firm believer her Farmington High softball team will surprise some people in 2013.

“We’re coming in as the underdog again, and we know that,” Volpe said last week. “But I think this team can make some things happen. I think we’ll sneak up on some people.”

The Falcons enter the spring attempting to rebound from what turned out to be a rather disappointing 2012 season.

The girls finished 14-24 overall and were fifth in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division with a 3-7 mark.

But, as Volpe pointed out, that team was relatively young, with just two senior starters.

Seven starters are back in the fold this spring, with pitcher Kristin Lock the main departure.

But Katie Stimetz, who Volpe said pitched “roughly a third of our games” last season, is set to take over in the circle on a full-time basis.

The only other starting position that needs filling is in center field.

“The experience we have is pretty important, and it gives us a lot of confidence,” junior infielder Rachel Walsh said during a March 28 practice. “When you have this much talent back, you bring back a lot of confidence.”

“The cohesiveness is already here,” junior outfielder Courtney Cole said. “You could see it right away. We all came in kind of knowing what to do and what to expect.”

That returning talent is what has Volpe cautiously optimistic.

“We’re very experienced, in the sense that we have so many people back,” Volpe said. “But we’re inexperienced, in the sense that we didn’t accomplish very much last year. Had we done well in the league and then the districts, we’d have some success to fall back on. But this is a team that has to figure out winning.”

Volpe said Stimetz will be key, stepping in to shoulder the pitching duties.

“And she’ll be fine,” Volpe said. “She knows what she’s doing out there, and she’ll have a very solid defense backing her up. I have no concerns with that at all.”

As for concerns about a veteran team figuring out how to win, Cole shrugged it off.

“I think part of winning is learning how to take some tough times and make the most of it,” she said. “We all learned a lot last year, and it’s only going to help this season.”

Going from the bottom of the Red to the top would be a chore for any team. Volpe said the main focus isn’t necessarily winning what is sure to be a very strong division, but instead to find a way to compete every day.

“We’re aiming at splitting every league doubleheader,” she explained. The Falcons open the season with an April 10 doubleheader against West Bloomfield High. “If we can sneak out some sweeps, then we’ll be a team that overachieves. … With this team, and with these girls, the outlook is pretty good. It’s a great group that listens and is very coachable. We’ve got a ways to go, but we’re moving in the right direction.”