By Greg Gielczyk
GRAYLING — Expectations are running high for the Grayling High School girls softball team this spring, and with good reason as the Lady Vikings return eight seniors and two juniors that played last year on a team that finished 13-20.
Overall numbers are encouraging as well, with between 33 and 34 kids in the system right now. There’s a good chance that head Coach Mark Golnick will keep a pitcher from among two sophomores and a freshman that are showing great strides in practice, or alternate between varsity and junior varsity.
Seniors include Chrissy Bonamie, Ashley Branch, Jackie Bulmer, Maryn Burrall, Savannah Klapec, Shaelin Kraycs, Sally Metiva and Brittany Nelson.
Nelson is starting her third year on the varsity and will play middle infield, but has played third and the outfield before. Burrall helped the Lady Vikings out at first base last year and will also see time in the outfield.
Kraycs caught and played some second base last year, but could add third base to her list of positions. Metiva pitched and saw some time at second base last season. Bonamie played right field a year ago, but will probably move to center.
Branch played third and should remain there this season. Bulmer is expected to continue as the starter at first. Klapec played some outfield last year, and will stay in the outfield this year.
Sophomores who were on varsity last year are twin sisters Emma and Erin Prosser. A catcher, Emma begins her third year on the varsity and also plays some middle infield as well as pitch. Juniors who did not play varsity last year are Hailey Pratt and Baylee Baker. The one freshman on the squad is Sabrina Junttila.
“I’m going to keep three pitchers on varsity, I’m just not sure if I’m going to rotate them so we can get them innings pitched on the JV level, too,” Golick said. “Metiva and Erin Prosser will share the load.
“Sally keeps the ball in the (strike) zone. She walks very few people. She doesn’t strike a lot of kids out. Erin’s probably a little bit faster, but she has a tendency to have some control issues but she was a sophomore last year.”
Emma Prosser missed three quarters of last season because of a basketball injury and is raring to get back at it.
Having her behind the plate will be a strength.
“She is the first line of communication,” Golnick said. “Everything goes through her, and she’s got a good arm. She’s really picking up on the strategies of the game and what we’re trying to do. Whether we’re trying to go home, or third on a base hit to the outfield. Or who’s going to field a bunt. She’s really come on strong with that.
“Our philosophy defensively is to get that outs that they give us. It’s a pretty athletic group. We ran quite a bit last year. We play a lot of small ball. We try to put pressure on the defense when we’re up offensively. We try to get the kids to buy into putting the ball into play when they have two strikes.
“Defensively we don’t want to give them stuff, and when mistakes happen we have to have a short time memory. In softball if you start throwing the ball around it’s contagious. Our goal is to finish in the top three in the (Lake Michigan) Conference.”
The Lady Vikings are scheduled to play a non-conference doubleheader against Pewamo-Westphalia at Central Michigan University’s softball diamond on Saturday, May 14 and the radio station plans to do a live broadcast of the first game according to Golnick.