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Sterling Heights

May 1, 2013

Parkway Christian softball working to find footing

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

Weather played a role in the Sterling Heights Parkway Christian softball team’s slow start out of the gate, according to coach Joy Sprang.

“We played our first game (on the road) before we were even able to step on our own field for a practice,” said Sprang, in her fourth year as coach. “We were able to get some things done in our gym, but there’s something said about fielding a ball off of the dirt versus fielding one off the gym floor.”

At press time, Parkway Christian was 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Blue Division. Sprang said the slow start has not taken away from the enthusiasm of the team.

Sprang said strong leadership plays a role in the team’s morale. The coach said senior catcher Kara LaGorio is a true leader who leads vocally and by example.

“She’s always helping everybody out and trying to keep them going in the right direction,” Sprang said. She added that having a leader of that caliber is vital, since Parkway Christian has six freshmen on a roster of 14.

Sprang said freshman shortstop Jade Difatta may be young, but she has a wealth of softball experience from playing on travel teams. Difatta has already shown she’s team-oriented, Sprang said, making the switch to shortstop from catcher.

“That’s a really tough switch, but she’s got that catcher’s arm that helps her rocket balls to first base for outs,” Sprang said.

The coach added that senior center fielder Taylor Swarts leads the team at the plate. Swarts, who earned honorable mention All-State honors last season, is the table-setter for the Eagles, hitting leadoff.

It’s vital that Swarts and others get on base, according to Sprang, who said speed is the Eagles’ strength. She said just about every player on the roster is fast around the basepaths.

“We’re a smallball team. We really only have one girl (LaGorio) who hits for power, so we’re all about getting girls on base and batting them around,” Sprang said. “We try to move them around by bunting, stealing — any way we can.”

Scoring runs will be paramount for a team working in four pitchers who never threw at the varsity level, according to Sprang. The Parkway Christian coach said she’s working with those first-year varsity hurlers to get them acclimated to the game and build their confidence.

“We’ve got to get them going so the defense can do its job,” Sprang said.

Sprang knows she’s working with several young players, but she said there’s no question about their mental toughness.

“This is a team full of fighters,” she said. “These girls work their tails off every day trying to get better. There’s no quit in this bunch, and we’re thinking we can do some good things.”

Up next, the Eagles play Southfield Christian at 4:30 p.m. May 2 at home.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.