The sun is barely peeking out from behind menacing, dark, fluffy clouds. Snow squalls followed by intense beams of sun fill the afternoon. It is cold. It is spring. And that means Oxford Softball is hard at work. Expectations are high. This is not new. Last year the program climbed to the highest state ranking in program history at #3 in Division 1, but ultimately fell to the number 1 ranked team in the state playoffs 2-1.
The 2019 team returns 8 starters from that #3 ranked squad. Senior captains McKenzie Miller and Chloe Allen along with Juniors Gabby Dinges and Sarah Tyrrell lead this squad. Observing their outdoor practice in brutal conditions gave me a glimpse of what this program has become up here in Northern Oakland County. The high expectations are definitely not lost on this group. They show up and practice with an intensity that made this reporter want to grab his glove and join in. The comradery and work ethic is infectious. The will to prepare to win appears to be higher and more important to this team than anything. Each rep, each drill- done to max effort and intensity. The communication and encouragement was a sight to behold. The legacy of winning and hard work left behind by the seniors of the past has life in this team.
"This program has really grown into something special these last 5 years. The work these girls have done and continue to do with their craft has been neat to see. Everything they have accomplished has come with a dedication and a work ethic that has impressed me to no end." head coach Kenny Allen said.
Oxford begins the season with a double header at Romeo on April 9th.
"This is a really good opener for us. Romeo is a very solid program and will be ready for us."
Oxford has 14 girls on the varsity roster. "This is may be the most athletic group of girls I have had in my career. We have a lot of varsity experience returning which is exciting. The pieces are there for this team to achieve at a very high level. My job will be put this puzzle together to maximize our talent and athleticism."
New comers Olivia Makarewicz, Alexis Stoll, Kara Lange, Maddy Lovins, Makenzie Brown, and Caitlyn Dahlerup bring some extra depth and skills to a loaded returning group. Sophomores, Emma Morris, Meghan Lupu, Alexis Cardona, and Caroline Marsh look to build on stellar freshman campaigns from last year.
"I am excited to see the contributions from the new girls as well as the growth and maturity in the returning sophomores. They all compete everyday so hard… and they have to because our junior and seniors lead the way. I always talk about competing relentlessly every day and every pitch, on the field and off the field. These girls understand and thus far have shown it. I am proud of every single one of them and look forward to our 2019 season. You want to know what makes me even more proud? These girls are all high quality young ladies on and off the field. These girls serve their community. They are also all so smart. Our team GPA is 3.8! The sky is the limit for them and I hope they will go out and attack every day in life, school, and softball."
As the sun sets on practice in late March, with windchills approaching 20 degrees, these girls wrap up practice with the same intensity and focus as they started the day with. Their schedule is posted online oxfordathletics.org. Come check them out.