Pine River seniors set for big softball season

GATT
GATT

LEROY — Pine River’s girls softball team has several reasons to be optimistic with a squad that includes seven seniors.

Two of the seniors include Cayman Gatt and Jamie Justin.

Like other softball teams, the Bucks have been struggling to get outdoors for practices and getting into games that are on the schedule. They’re scheduled to play Reed City at home this Thursday. Next Tuesday, they’ll be at home against McBain Northern Michigan Christian.

Gatt, a senior, is in her fourth varsity season.

“We did very well in the conference so that was nice,” she said.

She’s hoping this will be their best season. But Gatt admits the poor spring weather has put her team back somewhat.

“We were supposed to have our first scrimmage (In late March) and that didn’t happen,” she said. “You can’t do what you need to get  done (being indoors).”

The Bucks only graduated two seniors from last season.

“We have a lot of returners so that’s always good,” Justin said.

Justin, a pitcher, is in her fourth season. A three-sport athlete, she’s played softball since the tee-ball days. She started pitching as soon as she hit the allowable age.

This is Justin’s third varsity season. She played during the summer.

“We had a great season (last year) but we came just short. We lost in predistricts and we were expected to do a lot better,” Justin said, admitting that this year’s Pine River team is determined to go far into the post season. “I need to work a lot on my pitching, different kinds of pitches.”

Justin was 23-7 last season for a Bucks team that was 12-0 in the Highland Conferences. She had a 3.23 ERA and batted .427 with 33 RBIs.

Justin’s fastball remains her strength, she indicated. Justin hopes to be a smarter pitcher.

When she’s not pitching, “I used to play first base but I think this year I’ll play shortstop,” Justin said.

She hopes to hit at least .400.

The Bucks hope to have the talent to make a strong run at the league crown.

“I think we’ll be very strong defensively and offensively,” Justin said.

“I think we’ll be strong in all areas,” Gatt said. “Usually Beal City is pretty good. We’re playing some new non-conference teams and there’s different tournaments we haven’t been to.”

Most of the girls have played two or three sports together. Gatt and Justin both also played volleyball and basketball.

“It helps a lot, having that chemistry,” Gatt said. “When you play with people for so long, you know they’ll be there or where they’ll be or what they’re thinking.”