Reed City softball team builds for the future

Rylie Schafer was among the key players for Reed City's softball team this season. (Herald Review file photo)

Rylie Schafer was among the key players for Reed City's softball team this season. (Herald Review file photo)

REED CITY — The 2021 softball season was one of change, rebuilding and learning curves for the Reed City squad.

Coached by Roger Steig, now with 15 seasons at the position under his belt, the Coyotes won three games all season, none of them coming in league play.

Steig said he felt his players met expectations on an individual basis but, as a team, the relative lack of experience up-and-down the roster caused growing pains from time-to-time.

“With only two ladies in our starting lineup with any varsity experience, we knew there was a lot of work to be done,” Steig said.

Before building up the team, Steig said it was important this season to increase the skill threshold of players on a one-by-one basis and proceed accordingly from there.

“Our goal from the start was to focus on individuals (and) get our skill level where we needed to be before we focused on the team concept,” Steig said.

The Coyotes began the year on an 0-25 skid, but Steig said that did little, if anything at all, to shatter the pride and confidence of his young team.

As the season progressed, wins weren’t as difficult to come by for Reed City as they were earlier in the spring.

“For me, these ladies are living proof that the strongest athletes are not the athletes who win, but the athletes that don’t give up when they lose,” Steig said. “They were able to stay focused. (At) the end of the year, we began to gel; the look on their faces after a come-from-behind victory to get that first win was priceless.”

Reed City went 3-5 in its final eight games of the season.

Even though the season was full of challenging moments for his team, Steig said there was never a moment of disappointment, and expressed his readiness for the ‘22 campaign.

“I am so ready for next season to get started,” Steig said. “It can’t get here soon enough; this team will be ready.”

Coyote cleanup hitter Rylie Shafer earned All-Conference honors, batting .329 with 11 RBI and one home run.

Senior Lily Andres was an All-Conference Honorable Mention, batting .255 with nine RBI out of the number-two spot in the lineup. She will be RC’s lone departure this offseason.

Shafer, along with Izabell Guy, Kenzie Shoemaker, Kaylin Goodman, Hannah Stellni, Desaray Conklin, Hannah Kaverman, Gabbie Adrianse, Kailie Myers and Kylee Hatfield will all be back for next softball season.

“I am blessed with some really great athletes, and we have a solid freshman class coming in next year,” Steig said.