Morenci baseball 4.9

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci’s first-year baseball coach Roger Pontious is taking a realistic approach to the season.

He’s not going to optimistically tell you the Bulldogs are going to go out and whip everybody in the league. No question about it—that will be his goal when TCC play gets going April 16 against Sand Creek, but it’s not likely to happen.

“We’re young and we’re going to stumble,” Pontious said. “Game experience is lacking and you can only get that by playing games.”

Only three players are back with extensive experience. All the gaps will be filled by three sophomores who put in a little time last year as freshmen and others who are new to the team.

“We had lots of talent last year so there wasn’t much opportunity for the younger players,” Pontious said. “We’ll be playing to win this year, but it’s going to be tough.”

He noted that several league teams have junior varsity squads and Whiteford is even starting a junior high team. Morenci hasn’t had the numbers for a JV team in several years, but increasing participation leading to a JV squad is one of Pontious’s goals.

Among the five seniors on the squad, only three were on the team last season. Anthony Barron returns to the mound—the only returning pitcher—and to play shortstop. Barron was named offensive player of the year last season.

Steven Pontious, last season’s defensive player of the year, is back at second base and he’ll put in some time on the mound. Devin Martinez is back for a final season, but he’s leaving first base to play behind the plate.

Kyle McClain took a break from baseball last season, but he’s back for his senior year. He’ll play in the outfield with newcomer Tim Apger.

Seven sophomores bolster the Bulldogs’ numbers, including three returners—shortstop and pitcher Jarrett Keller, center fielder Issac Jeffers and third baseman Cody Long.

Newcomers are outfielders Mike Snyder, Josh Moses and Ed Cousino, along with catcher/infielder Loren DelMonico.

Freshman Nick Wilson has earned a starting role at first base. Kenny Maxfield will try for an outfield spot and Brett Bovee will work at the shortstop position.

Dustin McCullough is serving as a pitching coach and Mark Lamley will also serve as an assistant.

Coach Pontious said his team has been hitting well in the batting cage, but he knows it’s an entirely different situation when an opponent’s pitcher is on the mound. He also sees good base-running speed with several players.

He expects good performances from his two returning pitchers, but there will be lot of growing with the others.

“We’re going to expect the younger kids to come through,” Pontious said. “If everybody plays together and believes in each other, they’re going to grow.”

• The Bulldogs are scheduled to open the season Thursday at Erie-Mason, followed by a double-header Monday at Addison. The league season opens at home April 16 against last year’s co-champions from Sand Creek.

  • Homecoming Court
    HOMECOMING—One senior candidate will be chosen Morenci’s fall homecoming queen during half-time ceremonies Friday at the football field. In the back row are seniors Mikayla Price, who will be escorted by Mason Vaughn; Madison Bachman, escorted by Kiegan Merillat, and Mikayla Reinke, escorted by Griffin Grieder. Senior Ariana Roseman is absent from the photo. Her escort is Garrett Smith. In the front is sophomore Abbie White, who will be escorted by Ryder Price; junior Madysen Schmitz, escorted by Harley McCaskey and freshman Madison Keller, escorted by Jarett Cook.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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