Heading into the postseason

Area softball teams prepared to begin district play

REMUS — With the regular season in the rear view, area softball teams are gearing up for district action this weekend.

SAFE: Chippewa Hills’ Hali Earl (left) slides into home safely to score a run during a game earlier this season. The Warriors will host Division 2 district action Saturday. (Pioneer file photo)

On Saturday, Chippewa Hills will host the Division 2 district tournament, with the Warriors playing Tri-County in their district opener.

For a Warriors team that cruised to a CSAA title this season, it might seem like they don’t have much of a chip on their shoulder heading into districts, but they still remember being defeated by Cedar Springs in the first round of district play last season.

“The girls have been fired up for more than a week now,” Chippewa Hills coach R.D. Denslow said. “I think they’re ready to put last year’s performance at districts behind them.”

Despite not knowing much about their opening opponent, Denslow said the Warriors will continue to do what they’ve done all year and try to beat whoever is in front of them.

“It’s just a matter of doing what we do,” he said. “One of our main focuses all season is that we don’t worry about who we play. We just go out there and focus on who’s in front of us at the time.”

With a balanced combination of offense, defense and pitching, Denslow said he believes everything starts with the defense and the pitchers for Chippewa Hills.

“I think we feed off the pitchers and the defense,” he said. “I think that motivates us at the plate when we’re performing well on the mound and in the field.”

Big Rapids will also be at Chippewa Hills Saturday, as they face Grant in their district opener.

After some up-and-down moments throughout the season, Big Rapids coach Darcy Balahoski said she believes the Cardinals are starting to come together just at the right time.

“I definitely think we’re coming together as a team,” she said. “If our hitting comes around at the plate and we can keep the ball in front of us on defense behind our pitchers, I think we’ll be ready.”

Balahoski said the Cardinals have worked on all aspects of the game during the past week, but she was specifically encouraged by the work the Cardinal pitchers put in during practice.

“They’ve been working all week to get ready,” she said. “They’ve looked good all week, so we feel pretty confident with whoever we put on the mound.”

In Division 3 district action at Lakeview Saturday, Morley Stanwood will try to retain their district crown from last season when the Mohawks face off against Evart in their opener.

“We know if we take care of business, we’ll have a good chance at a district title,” Morley Stanwood coach Andrea Raven said.

In practice this past week, Raven said the Mohawks have focused on their approach at the plate to prepare for the weekend.

“We’ve worked on hitting a lot this week,” she said. “When we put it all together at the plate, we can put some pressure on teams.”

While hitting has been the focus of practice, Raven said the Mohawks pitchers have gotten plenty of work in as well.

“We’ve worked with our pitchers on hitting their spots and just having better control,” she said.

As defending district champions, Raven said the Mohawks have had their sights set on winning another title all season.

“We have goals at the beginning of the season and they don’t always come about,” she said. “But this is a goal we have a chance to achieve, so we’re ready for the opportunity.”

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