03-30-2017 Tri-City Area Sports

Watervliet softball seeking golden season

 The Watervliet varsity softball team is ready to hit the ground running this season and there is a lot to be excited about.

Watervliet head coach Tom Golden shared that the team has set “high goals for the season: play better as a team, win our conference, win districts, and be the first Panther softball team to win a regional game.”

The team graduated four seniors from last year’s squad, and with only two seniors on this year’s team you might wonder just how good the Panthers could be. Wonder no more. The team is chock full of experience, hitting power, and athleticism. Golden has a bench deep with hitting talent, an infield full of aggressive players who will knock down the ball, and a three-woman pitching crew rife with experience, composure, and speed. The team boasts 11 players on the varsity roll with eight returning letter winners.

According to Golden, “The team will be led by two seniors Logan Mizwicki and Mercede Daugherty. Logan is the leader out on the field, and Daugherty is the top hitter.”

Mizwicki will cover shortstop duties, while Daugherty will play the hot corner at third base.

Junior Kara Liles will take the mound for the Lady Panthers, marking her third year as a starting pitcher. She will be joined in the rotation by junior Ariana Rowe; this will mark Rowe’s second year as a starter on the pitching squad. Newcomer sophomore Celina Klimkiewicz will round out the rotation.

Golden will also rely on the strength of his junior class. The juniors returning to the team include: Liles, Rowe, Zoe Smith, and Taylor Shafer.

Shafer will play second base, while Smith will be in the outfield.

Also returning to the squad is sophomore Mikayla Clay. Clay is one of three sophomores on the team and will serve as a catcher.

Newcomers to the Panther varsity team are juniors Madalyn Hutchins and Jaelyn Pitre, sophomores Celina Klimkiewicz and Sabrina Klimkiewicz, and Alex Worley, the lone freshman on the team.

Sabrina Klimkiewicz will cover the outfield as sister Celina is third in the pitching rotation. Pitre has been tabbed for the outfield, and both Hutchins and Worley will spend time behind home plate as catcher.

While Golden is relying on “the experience of our returning eight letter winners,” the team will work to improve their “base running and playing more as a team,” he said. “We have improved our non-conference schedule to help us prepare for our conference and district play.”

Golden will be assisted by Mandi Johns, Bill Forrester, and Shannon McLaughlin.

Mark your calendars now! Softball districts will be hosted by Watervliet beginning May 30. The district includes the home team and Bangor, Coloma, Hartford, and Lawton. Depending on how the pairings shake out, you can bet there will be some great district games on tap!

TYLER BRANT RECEIVES SCHOLAR-ATHLETE AWARD… Tyler Brant (center) of Watervliet High School was honored as a recipient of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Scholar-Athlete Award at the 2017 MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing on March 25. Shown with Brant are: John E. “Jack” Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA; and Vic Verchereau, vice president of marketing for Farm Bureau Insurance. Brant will receive a $1,000 scholarship from Farm Bureau Insurance to be used at the institution of higher learning he attends this fall. Farm Bureau Insurance awarded 32 scholarships, pro-portionately by school classifi-cation, to students with a 3.50 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average who have pre-viously lettered in at least one sport in which postseason com-petition is sponsored by the MHSAA. The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of volun-tary membership by more than 1,400 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which ex-ists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and com-petition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.