Novatin, Bruno helped Rebels turn it around

Howell puts together strong spring after slow start

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Howell High School’s softball team may have come up one game short of the state playoffs, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

If there was one thing that characterized the Rebels, it was their game is never over approach.

“They don’t give up until there are 21 outs,” said coach Laura Savage.

Howell recovered from an 0-3 start to go 7-7 over its next 16 games, but were 9-10 at last week’s cutoff date to be .500 or better to make the state playoffs.

Still, there was a lot for the Rebels to build on this year, most notably, how they handled adversity. Everything was looking good through preseason scrimmages for the Rebels, and then, after the first game of the season, they lost catcher Amanda Smith to an illness for 21 days.

“That hurt our morale,” said Savage. “A piece of the puzzle was missing. Her defense and the way she calls games was missed.”

Senior Christie Novatin, who has played the infield and the outfield for the Rebels during her four years, added catching to her rsum until Smith could return.

“She [Novatin] did fine job and helped lead the resurgence,” noted Savage.

Always a dangerous hitter throughout her career, Novatin remained an offensive force despite the defensive switch. She is tied for fourth in the Shore in home runs with four, but Savage said the round-trippers have been the product of her approach at the plate.

“She’s not shooting for home runs,” she said. “She’s going with the pitch, getting hits to right field.”

Kat Bruno, the team’s senior co-captain with Novatin, has been a very efficient with the bat, hitting around .360 with a team high 20 hits.

Savage praised the leadership of her co-captains for helping the Rebels, who are overall a sophomore and junior-dominated team, bounce back from their poor start.

“It’s their attitude and the way they interact with the kids,” said Savage.

Christine Confessore emerged as the No. 1 pitcher and has pitched to a 2.78 earned run average. She has done her job of keeping the Rebels in ballgames by throwing strikes and avoiding those fatal free passes.

Novatin, Smith, Bruno and Confessore are among the four seniors who have been setting the example for the underclassmen, whose team it will be in 2007.

Brianna Warchal, a junior third baseman/outfielder, is one of the players the Rebels will be building around next year. She has shown power this year with three home runs and is among the leads in the Shore in RBIs with 15.

This year’s close call will no doubt be the fuel for next year’s squad, which has proved the second half of the season that it can be competitive in its division.