SOFTBALL: Lutheran Northwest eying another postseason run | North Oakland Sports

SOFTBALL: Lutheran Northwest eying another postseason run

| May 31, 2014 | Comments (0)

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ROCHESTER HILLS — Jeff Ludwig fully understands that making a long postseason run in softball, or in any sport for that matter, takes a lot of ingredients.

Skill, luck, breaks and the right draw are all major factors.

In his 11th season at Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest, his Crusaders have posted 10 winning seasons. They generally finish in the top half of the MIAC Blue Division or prior to that, the Metro Conference. Northwest has only won districts in 2007, 2012 and 2013 during his tenure and hope to win another this Saturday at home.

Is it a reachable goal? Yes. A probability? Northwest hosts a tough district where three schools have a legitimate shot.

“We have as good of a shot as anybody,” said Ludwig, taking a realistic look at the schools in the Northwest district. Macomb Lutheran North and Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes also bring quality ballclubs to the tournament, and Madison Heights Bishop Foley Catholic is traditionally not a pushover.

“This is a tough district. Can we win it? If we can play good defense behind our pitcher and get some timely hits, then we’ll have a chance,” admitted Ludwig.

Northwest won a pair of close games last season to win the district. In 2012, the Crusaders had a losing record but gelled at the right time and advanced to the regionals.

“It’s funny. Our best team was probably 2006 and we didn’t win the district that year,” said Ludwig. “That’s high school sports.”

This season with Waterford Our Lady bumping up to Division 3 from Division 4, this makes this district more competitive.

Northwest brings back junior hurler Paytin Riethmeier, who has kept the Crusaders in most games for three seasons. Sophomore outfielder Emily Kimmel, junior first baseman Ashley Gryzwac and senior outfielder Emily Griffith are all solid contributors for a team that finished the regular season 14-11 and in third in the MIAC-Blue at 7-5.

What has made the Crusaders more competitive are freshman catcher Ali Magiera and junior twins Kelly Dyer and Lisa Dyer, who transferred over from Lake Orion. All have made an impact on the roster.

“Ali is batting around .480 and she’s been a big help,” praised Ludwig. “The Dyers have helped. They came over from Lake Orion and Lake Orion is loaded. They had a chance to play here and have fit in nicely. They have helped us out. Kelly is hitting over .400 and is solid at third base. Lisa is hitting around .320 and has given us another solid glove in the infield.”

Last season, Northwest advanced to the regional finals last season before falling to powerhouse Allen Park Cabrini, 4-1. In that game, the Crusaders only trailed by a run entering the sixth inning.

“We proved that we can play with some very good teams,” said Ludwig. “Will we be able to match that his season? Well, whoever wins our district should play Cabrini in the regional semifinal. They changed it up a bit this year. But who knows? That’s why we play the games.”

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