Bucks' veterans sparking team

LEROY — Pine River is off to a good start in the softball ranks and the talented arm of junior Jamie Justin is playing a major role in that success.

Justin started off last week with a four-hitter in a 4-0 shutout against Morley Stanwood.

“I did all right,” Justin said, referring to the 2011 season when she normally pitched the second game behind No. 1 pitcher Miranda Nelson who graduated. Now Justin is No. 1 and said she’s ready to go.

“I worked on my pitching during the offseason,” said Justin, who also played volleyball and basketball. “My control is pretty good.”

Justin hopes to be a strong hitter for the Bucks this season after hitting around .400 in 2012. Being relaxed at the plate will be critical.

“I think we’ll be pretty good,” Justin said of the team, adding that defensively with the infield, “we’re going to be pretty good.”

Justin indicated her arm is strong enough for her to throw a doubleheader, if necessary. She’s hoping the Bucks can be a regional title contender again this season.

Also off to a strong start is Brooke Sebastiano, Pine River’s senior center fielder. It’s her second season on the varsity.

She was happy with her junior season when the Bucks went to the regional finals.

“It went good,” she said. “My hitting has gotten a lot better since then. I should hit much better this year.”

Sebastiano expects to see another strong season from the Bucks.

“We have people in different spots that are stepping up and taking charge,” she said. “I worked all winter to improve my swing and hit better. Hopefully, it will get there.”

Her glove is the strength of Sebastiano’s defense.

“We have to work as a team and keep coming at people,” she said, adding that in order to compete in the Highland Conference, “Beal City, we definitely have to beat them and we have to come at Manton.”