New East Detroit softball coach looking to change culture of program
April 2, 2013
EASTPOINTE — Rookie East Detroit High softball coach Jeff Zschernig, an alumnus of the school, said he remembers a time when the Shamrocks’ softball program was a force to be reckoned with.
“When I was here 30 or so years ago, the softball team was winning — competing for regional titles and everything else,” Zschernig said. The Shamrocks advanced to the Michigan High School Athletic Association Class A state finals in 1978, 1980 and 1987.
But the program has struggled in the past three seasons. Aside from winning a district title in 2011 — the program’s first in 15 years — wins have been hard to come by, and the first-year East Detroit softball coach is looking to spark a return to former glory.
The first step to bringing a program back, in Zschernig’s opinion, is changing the attitude. He said it’s important for the girls to play with some confidence each time they hit the diamond.
“And you have to be on the same page when you’re out there in the field,” Zschernig said. “You’ve got to be in tune with your teammates, if you want to win.”
Zschernig, who has also coached in different capacities at Grosse Pointe South, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Anchor Bay, said he’s looking at a group of three seniors to lead the team vocally and on the field.
That core includes Aluri Hill (shortstop, second base, pitcher and catcher), captain Nicole Sneath (second base, catcher), and Sarah Corbin (pitcher, third base). Sophomore Charlotte Hubbard, who plays first base and pitcher, is also expected to be a solid contributor, according to Zschernig.
“We want to win, for sure,” Zschernig said, “but I also want to tap into the history of the program so the girls know they can have success with this team.”
Defense will be key if the Shamrocks hope to have success right off the bat. Zschernig said he believes defense is more vital to a team’s fortunes than strong hitting.
“If you can hit but you can’t get off the field, you won’t get a chance to get those at-bats,” Zschernig said. “You’ve got to be able to get off the field.”
Zschernig said his team’s success lies in its own hands. He admitted to not knowing much about the teams in the Silver (Warren Fitzgerald won the league last year), but he added that he expects to face some stiff competition.
“It doesn’t really matter what the other team does, when you get down to it,” Zschernig said. “But we’re not going to really judge this season on wins and losses. We’re looking to grow as a team and get better every day.”
East Detroit’s next game is a matchup with New Haven, set for 4:30 p.m. April 3 at East Detroit.