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Dakota’s Dunford is off to a fast start, Cougars geared to make another long tournament run

By: Tom Markowski, May 2, 2017, 10:32 am

Macomb – Kendahl Dunford of Macomb Dakota has big plans. The most immediate is to lead her team to what would be the school’s first state title.

Dunford, 17, is a four-year starter and one of the top pitchers in the state. She’s one of 10 players listed on State Champs’ Player of the Year contest and many consider her one of the favorites.

This season Dunford is 12-1 with a 0.69 ERA. In 61 innings she has 90 strikeouts and nine walks. At the plate she’s batting .359 and she belted her third home run last week.

Dakota (12-1) is considered one of the top contenders for the Division 1 title a season after the Cougars lost to Farmington Hills Mercy in the state final.

“I’m very happy with our play so far,” Dunford said. “Just getting the new players going has been big.

“We had a good defense last year and our defense has made some big plays behind me this year.”

Coach Rick Fontaine has shuffled his defensive alignment since the start of the season.

Arieanna Grammatico was expected to be the full-time catcher but Juliann Hammer, a sophomore, has secured that position. Grammatico has maintained a strong presence in the lineup and the junior has seen time at catcher and third base.

“Juliann, at first, wasn’t starting at catcher,” Dunford said. “At first it was scary for her, playing all the time. But she’s a lot better now and I’m more comfortable with her, too.”

Dunford signed with Florida International, located in Miami and a member of Conference USA. She also considered Iowa, Michigan State and Northern Illinois. She said the warm Florida weather was a big factor in her choosing FIU.

Dunford has a 3.56 grade-point average and plans on majoring in sports broadcasting.