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.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of 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.

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