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Girls Junior Varsity Softball, Girls Varsity Softball · Young Softball Squad’s Rise No. 2 Sports Story of 2016-17

Olivetathletics.com is counting down the Top 10 Olivet High School sports stories for 2016-17. Here is No. 2…

It was evident during the spring of 2015 that the Olivet High School varsity softball team, which started four freshmen that season, was going to enjoy some success for a handful of years.

The Eagles’ potential came to fruition this spring as they achieved their two main goals — placing first in the Greater Lansing Activities Conference and winning an MHSAA Division 2 title — with a starting lineup that included no seniors.

Olivet actually shared the GLAC championship with Lakewood, which was labeled the pre-season favorite by most people in the know. The two teams recorded identical 11-1 league records after splitting a doubleheader on April 25.

The Eagles’ district crown was their first since winning a Division 3 state title in 2010. What made it even sweeter is that they defeated nemesis Coldwater, 5-3, in an epic semifinal game on the Cardinals’ field on June 3.

Olivet coach Jeff Taylor, whose squad finished the season 28-13 following a first-round regional loss to Edwardsburg June 10, was pleased with his players’ progress this season.

“We made a conscious effort to continue to upgrade our non-conference schedule to help provide us with the competitive challenges the post-season would confront us with,” he explained. “Although the challenges didn’t always produce the end results we wanted, they did offer us opportunity to grow as a team.

“Although our season ended with a loss, as it does for all but four softball teams in the state, we can take away a huge sense of accomplishment for what we were able to do this year,” Taylor added.
While all of the Olivet players contributed this spring, no one was more valuable than junior pitcher Jaclyn Groves. The Saginaw Valley State University commit was a workhorse inside the circle and from her clean-up spot in the batting order.
Offensively, the Eagles relied heavily on lead-off hitter Trinity Weeks, catcher/outfielder Adianna Rangel, center fielder Brenna Madry and catcher Alison Ellsworth. All of these starters will return in 2018, along with first baseman Piper Ousley, second baseman Jenna Penny, third baseman Emma Moore, shortstop Alyssa Fuentes and outfielder Ryleigh Speer.
“For me personally, I could not have asked for a better group of young people to be around,” Taylor said. “From the beginning, they proved to be a talented, committed and competitive squad that relished its opportunities.”