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UM softball commit Ella Stephenson flirting with .700 batting average for Algonac


Algonac — Ella Stephenson has made the most of her high school softball career after getting her freshman season wiped out due to COVID.

Stephenson hit .575 with 19 home runs last year as a sophomore to help Algonac to a 29-11 record.

Stephenson has shown why she is a Michigan commit this season, trying to become one of just nine players in state history to hit .700 in a season, while continuing to hit with power from the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

Stephenson, who plays center field, opened the season with a home run and double in a 6-5 win over Division 1 power Warren Regina. She has continued her strong hitting the rest of the month, hitting .675 with eight home runs, 28 RBI and 27 runs scored.

Stephenson then opened the month of May with a 5-for-7 effort in a doubleheader split — winning Game 1, 8-7, and losing the nightcap, 4-2 — with Almont Tuesday afternoon to help put Algonac at 14-2, while inching closer to that .700 mark.

In an 8-4 win over St. Clair Shores Lakeview Saturday, Stephenson went the opposite way for a triple off the right-field fence in the opening inning, then lined an RBI double to left in the third before being walked the final two at-bats, including intentionally in her final plate appearance to load the bases — showing the respect opponents have for her.

“Ella does so many things well,” Algonac coach Len Perkins said of the 5-foot-9 Stephenson, who has 12 stolen bases. “She hits well and hits with power. She can also cover a lot of ground in the outfield for us as well, throws well too.”

Legendary Warren Regina coach Diane Laffey recalls Stephenson’s speed.

“She’s very good, chases down everything,” Laffey said. “She’s an outstanding outfielder.”

Stephenson has enjoyed success in her junior season.

“We have a very talented group this year and I’m having a lot of fun with my teammates, super excited to see where it’s going to go,” Stephenson said.

No doubt, Stephenson has talented teammates, including sophomore pitcher Kenna Bommarito and freshman third baseman Jaycee Reams (hitting .375), along with Sierra Vosler (.388) and Bre Thomason (.350).

Bommarito is hitting .450 with four home runs, including a 6-for-7 performance (three singles, two doubles and a home run) in the doubleheader against Almont. She hit 10 home runs her freshman year.

Algonac’s lineup is loaded with power, backed by its 10 home runs in a doubleheader sweep of Croswell-Lexington.

So, what are Stephenson’s strengths?

“Center field is my normal position,” Stephenson said. “I feel I get a good jump on the ball. I can read it well. I’m a power hitter, so I just like to hit the ball hard and hit it far, hopefully. I love the game, think it’s a lot of fun.”

Stephenson talked about her game against Lakeview and her approach at the plate.

“Outside, you’re trying to take it back to the right side and inside you’re trying to pull it left, and I’ve been getting better at taking the ball where the pitch is at,” Stephenson said. “My double was more middle of the plate and I got my barrel to it and when I get my barrel to it, it’s usually good things. The walks? I wanted to hit, but it is what it is.”

Stephenson has played travel ball for several years to help her reach her current level of play, competing with Turnin2Maloney and travel-team coach Shawn Maloney.

“I play for Turnin2Maloney; he’s been my coach since I’ve played 11-U, started out with him with BatBusters and then we switched to Turnin2 a couple of years ago,” Stephenson said of Maloney, who has been her travel coach for six years. “He’s been outstanding for me, taught me everything he knows about the game and I love him.”

Maloney is the younger brother of former Michigan head baseball coach Rich Maloney, who recently won his 900th game as a college coach last month for Ball State.

Stephenson said that she chose Michigan because it would allow her to remain close to home, and because it would give her the opportunity to play for another great coach.

“I committed this past November,” said Stephenson, who has a 4.1 grade-point average, of giving the nod to Michigan. “I had a pretty good fall and loved the coaching staff. I loved the atmosphere. I just thought it would be a great place to stay in Michigan, stay near my home. They have great success there and I’m thrilled to go and play for Coach Hutch (Carol Hutchins).”

Stephenson plans to follow her older brothers’ footsteps by playing college ball. Grant Stephenson is a sophomore infielder at Xavier, hitting .317 while junior catcher/outfielder Luke Stephenson has nine home runs and 25 RBI for Elon University.

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david.goricki@detroitnews.com