The St. Clair 10-and-under girls softball team doesn’t know much of anything about its opponents at the state tournament.
But the players on the team know how well they’re playing, and that’s all that matters at this point.
“I think we feel confident going into states from the past games that we won in districts,” St. Clair pitcher and first baseman Lainey Pavlov said. “I think we feel confident about our fielding, pitching and hitting because of the practices we’ve been having.
“I think we’ll do well, and hopefully we’ll go far.”
The tournament begins Friday with a skills competition, and pool play starts Saturday in Essexville. St. Clair, however, won’t play until 2 p.m. Sunday against Sanford because it’s in a three-team pool. The other three pools feature four teams, and the top two teams in each pool will advance to the quarterfinals at on Tuesday. The championship game will be played at noon on Aug. 6.
“This is a very good team,” St. Clair coach Ron Cook said. “I feel very confident for what we’ve got. I’ve got nine girls on this team that can pitch if I need them. I’ve got four that I will definitely use at any point in time. They love to work, they love to practice and they’ve been doing a great job with it.
“The cool part is with the parents. I try to get as many parents involved as I can. I’ve got great parents, and that makes a great team. I only see the kids for a few minutes, the parents have them the rest of the time. If you have good kids and you have good parents, that makes it easy to do my job.”
There is no pitch count in softball, but having a long list of pitchers to turn to is still important in a youth tournament.
“If you ever get worn out in a game,” Pavlov said, “you know you have other pitchers that will be back you up and help you.”
There are also no days of rest in the tournament. St. Clair plays its second game at 10 a.m. Monday against Penokee Range. The quarterfinals, semifinals and final would run the next three days.
St. Clair doesn’t only have a good and deep pitching staff, it also has a lineup that features plenty of power. Cook said several girls on the team can clear the outfield fence.
“We’ve been hitting a lot better than we were at the beginning,” St. Clair catcher Skye Gottler said.
Joining Pavlov and Gottler on the team are Claire Borg, Ashlyn Zimmer, Megan Postma, Claire Campbell, Hadley Schwarz, Skye Gottler, Madi Chamberlin, Anna Gapshes, Avery Paul, Samantha Furlin and Payton Malcolm. Joining Cook on the coaching staff are Erin Gottler and Dan Gapshes.
“The way I look at it, the girls we’re going to play against are 9- and 10-year olds like these girls are,” Cook said. “If we’ve prepared and they play the best they can play, I’m a happy man. I don’t expect them to go in there and blow everybody away, and I don’t expect to go in there and get blown away. I just expect to go in there and take it one game at a time and play the best we can when we get there.”
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.
10-and-under State Softball
WHEN: Saturday through Thursday
ST. CLAIR SCHEDULE: Vs. Sanford, 2 p.m. Sunday; Vs. Penokee Range, 10 a.m. Monday