Inland Lakes Ready to Shine Again in 2018
INDIAN RIVER – After a historic 2017 campaign, the Inland Lakes softball program is anxiously awaiting warm weather and the chance to defend its state championship.
With an 8-0 win over Ottawa Lake Whiteford in the Division 4 title game last June, the Bulldogs became just the second program in school history to capture a state title, joining the 1979 girls track and field team that won the Class D championship.
Sitting atop the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association Division 4 preseason poll, Inland Lakes replaces four seniors from last year’s championship-winning squad, including ace and current Central Michigan Chippewa Cloe Mallory.
“We’re working extra hard,” senior Madison Milner said. “Knowing that we already won the state championship, it’s kind of tough on us knowing that everyone else knows we’re out there, so they’re kind of like coming after us, but we’re working hard.”
With three newcomers and eight returners, including four seniors, Inland Lakes, which also finished runner-up in Division 4 in 2016, will put a seasoned product on the diamond this spring.
It’s really nice that we have such seasoned players to bring in,” senior Sydney DePauw said. “The ones that we did bring up, they’re going to fit in really well. They’ve been around our program a lot, so everybody knows how we work, how we operate, and we have one goal this year and that’s to get back to states.”
As the winter weather is sticking around longer than usual, the Bulldogs have yet to step foot on the field.
“I’m looking forward to the weather being nicer definitely, and getting on the dirt and the grass,” senior Makayla Henckel said. “It’s going to feel a lot better than being in the gym, being stuck here with nothing to really judge the ball from.”
If the weather cooperates, Inland Lakes is scheduled to open its season at Ski Valley Conference foe Gaylord St. Mary on Monday.