Baldwin softball girls anxious to get going

BALDWIN — Junior Ashley Roy is expected to be among the top players for a young Baldwin softball team that starts its season later this month.

Roy plays shortstop for the Panthers. She’s a three-year varsity player and performed for a talented Baldwin squad last season that graduated several seniors.

One major highlight for Roy was a 1-0 victory over Manistee Catholic Central.

“That was exciting, that was fun,” she said. “We lost all of our seniors last year. We had some extremely good players. We’re starting off fresh this year. It looks extremely good. I think we’re going to have a good year. Three of our players are back, myself, Gracie (Lemieux) and Courtney (Richards).”

Roy batted around .400 last season and wants to hit even better this year. It will simply take mope practice on everyone’s part, she said.

“We’re actually pretty young,” said veteran Baldwin coach Bob Hilts. “Kyrie (Norman) is a new addition to us this year. She’s probably our brightest newcomer. She swings the bat very well. He’s pretty sound in her defense. She’s already mechanically sound. She’s also a junior so we’ll have her next year. She swings the bat really fast. Her concentration is good at the plate. She hits everything that’s in the zone.”

Norman is a junior transfer from Brethren. She’s usually a third baseman.

“I like throwing hard,” she said.

“She’s so mechanically sound to be on the field anywhere we want her to be,” Hilts said. “There’s no reason why she couldn’t hit .500. She’s that good of an at bat. Her bat is nice and fast.”

Baldwin had three weeks of practice prior to last week’s spring break.

Lemieux plays first base for Baldwin and is a junior. She played outfield a year ago. But at first base, “there’s way more action,” she said. “I’m getting better, I need to practice more and improve my stretching abilities and my footwork.”

Last season, Lemieux batted under .300.

“You have to remember last year she didn’t get a whole lot of time at bat,” Hilts said. “Towards the end she did. At the beginning of the season, she was behind one of our seniors. She’s in the starting lineup this year.”

“I’ve improved a lot since last year,” said Lemieux, who said Custer-Mason County Eastern will be among the toughest teams Baldwin will face in the West Michigan D League. “I might play second base and some outfield.”

Poor weather conditions have deeply limited the Panthers from going outside for practice.

“We’ve been anxious since the first day,” Lemieux said. “I believe we can be pretty strong if we apply ourselves to our greatest ability.”

Nakeila Flowers is a sophomore who transferred from Muskegon Heights. But she has not played softball in the past.

“She’ll be just about anywhere I need her to play,” Hilts said. “She’s never tried catching or pitching. But in warmups, when we do windmills, she does OK.”

“I’m just now starting to hit it,” Flowers said. “I’m hitting well now.”

The season will start April 20 at Walkerville. If Pentwater winds up having a team, Baldwin will be home on April 18.

Hilts has 11 players on his roster currently but is hoping for a few more.

“My hope is we hit pretty good,” he said. “Defense, we’re getting better. If we can throw strikes and get some people out, I’m sure we can get some runs to win some games this year. Next year, once the girls get the feel of it, I think we’ll be a lot better, plus I have a good freshman group coming up next year who are eighth graders now.

“I have three girls returning and only one was a starter.”