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Softball has been a part of Greenhills’ athletic program since the 70s and has celebrated some major achievements. Then, in 2019, the school entered a cooperative with neighboring Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard to bolster its lineup and remain competitive with larger schools. The teams competed together until 2022, with the goal of each team eventually resuming its independence, and after a one-year hiatus in 2023, Greenhills had the field, coaching staff, and the players to realize that goal.

As with most developing programs, there’s a tight roster—just nine players on the 2024 team—and that means there’s no margin for error. Each player has to give it their all in every practice and every game, and the nine Gryphons who stepped up to the plate did so with relentless determination.

“​​What I appreciate about all of our players is, when Assistant Coach Ed Arbour and I give them feedback, they soak it in,” said head coach Caitlyn O’Neal. “They genuinely want to get better.”

The team’s first game on April 22 against Detroit Cristo Rey was exciting yet nerve-wracking. Despite losing to the Wolves, the Gryphons demonstrated tremendous progress. According to O’Neal, it was “a fire starter” for the team and was instrumental in reinforcing the young team’s understanding of softball.

“Something clicked,” said O’Neal. “As if everything we’ve been trying to teach them in practice made sense and came together.”

Coach O’Neal remained hopeful that in-game experience would continue strengthening the program; however, inclement weather canceled two of the team’s four scheduled games. With limited gameplay opportunities, the team leaned heavily on practices to develop players’ skills. Practices also provided opportunities to build team culture and nurture a supportive community—a top priority for O’Neal.

“We want to make sure they feel like it’s a safe space to make mistakes because everyone will—that’s the game of softball,” said O’Neal.

To further foster connection, the Gryphons kicked off each practice with a group cheer, focused on communication through partner warm-ups, and acknowledged stand-out teammates with a player-to-player award.

“You practice how you play, so we take things seriously,” said captain Skyla Shea ’25, “but it can be intimidating to be on a team of a sport you’ve never played, so we try to make sure everyone is having fun as well.”

The team’s dedication is paying off. O’Neal is incredibly proud of the transformation she witnessed this season and is optimistic about the future of Greenhills softball.

“My mission was to make sure that these girls understood the rules of softball and came out better at the end,” said O’Neal. “Now, we have girls hitting into the outfield. Their accuracy with throwing and catching has improved. They’re communicating well. Watching them grow and getting their buy-in has been so rewarding, and it’s just the beginning.”

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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