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Lady Bulldogs Bring New Attitude

Practice makes Perfect.

That’s the message that Kenmore East Softball head coach Mike Kluge has been trying to get across to his team.

Message received.

Kluge noticed almost immediately that the Lady Bulldogs were taking practice more seriously this year.

“They’re trying to be perfect in practice this year,” Kluge said. “I see it in their energy level and commitment this year. They’re focused on being a winning team.”

Last year when Kluge took over as head coach of the team, he didn’t implement too many changes. He wanted to see where the team before making his mark on the program.

The Lady Bulldogs had an overall record of 3-15 and went 1-13 in league play in 2016.

Now, after assessing the where the program is, Kluge is working to change the culture and attitude of the team.

“This is year one for me in a lot of ways,” Kluge said. “We’re implementing more of my own stuff and making changes wherever it is needed.”

Freshman Gabrielle Vasi has seen big changes already.

“Kluge has made practice more serious,” Vasi said. “He sees potential in us.”

Kluge coming back is bringing stability to a program that went through a new coach every year, in the past four years.

“He wants to win, he doesn’t like being on a team that loses”, junior Lexi Lagattuta said. “He comes here to win just like the rest of us.”

On a team with no seniors, Lagattuta is the leader of the team. The junior, in her fifth year on the varsity, has stepped right into the role.

“She knows her position. She makes sure everyone is motivated and stays focus,” Kluge said. “Not only does she do it with her physical abilities, but she is now taking her leadership position more seriously.”

Lagattuta already feels that her teammates trust her as a leader.

“Whoever it is I want to help them out,” Lagattuta said. “If someone needs help with batting, they know they come to me and ask what they are doing wrong.”

Lagattuta will start at short stop, but also be available to catch.

Junior Sarah Burhans will be the ace for the Bulldogs. Burhans is in her third year on the varsity. Kluge is looking for Burhans to have a breakout year.

“Sarah’s that quiet leader that does everything right,” Kluge said. “She does every single thing you need her to do. She has put in a lot of work in over the off-season.”

Also on the mound for the Lady Bulldogs is Gabrielle Vasi.

Kluge is expecting her to not only be a strong pitcher this year but also become the future of the program.

“She’s a difference maker,” Kluge said. “She’s a very strong, dedicated young pitcher. She could become one of the best pitchers in the area.”

The Lady Bulldogs will also be looking for big contributions from sophomores Sam Kelly and Jaclyn MacVittie. Both are versatile players with big bats.

Kelly will start at second base. MacVittie will be in the outfield.

Ken-East is counting on sophomore Jordan Taylor to be strong at catcher this year.

Serena Sordetto is back on the diamond after not playing last year. Sordetto will be at third base for the Lady Bulldogs.

The Lady Bulldogs have athletes. The Girls Basketball team went undefeated in league play, and the girls hockey team went to the sectional finals for the sixth straight year. According to Sordetto, who was on the basketball team, the key to carrying over the success to softball will be team unity.

“Everyone needs to be able to bond and be together,” Sordetto said. “It will lift our spirts and help us play better.”

Megan Smith, Jordan McKenna, Cayla Bone, Bethany Coates, Emily Caruana, Brooke O’Connor, Emily DellaPenta and Meghan McMahon round out the opening day roster.

The Niagara Frontier League always has strong teams. But Kluge believes his team can be competitive in 2017.

“I’m hoping that .500 is something we can attain. If we hovering around there,” Kluge said. “It puts us in good shape for the future.”

The Lady Bulldogs open up their season at home against NFL newcomer CSAT on Tuesday. First pitch 4:45 p.m.

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