Spring sports previews 2012.03.38

Written by David Green.

FAYETTE BASEBALL: The BBC baseball lineup should be more balanced this season, says co-coach Ryan Colegrove. He and coach Bruce Miller hope to see the Eagles in the chase for a strong league finish.

“The league should have more balance this year,” Colegrove said. “Edon had a great season last year, but lost a lot to graduation which should bring them back to the pack.”

He likes Fayette’s mix of younger players along with some older students joining the team for the first time.

“We have some upperclassmen joining that are good athletes and should help us,” he said, “as well as some solid freshmen that will contribute right away.”

Senior Trevor Cox is playing for the first time, but his athleticism should make him valuable. He’ll play in the infield and may do some pitching. Travis Pennington is another first-year senior who may put in some time on the mound.

Senior Tim Stoltzfus is also a first-timer who will see time as an outfielder. Senior Dalton Goeltzenleuchter returns as an infielder and pitcher.

Returning juniors are Cole Burkholder, a solid hitter and third baseman; Kruce Miller, described as a solid all-around player and pitcher; Daniel McNamara, another good all-around player who will pitch and play infield; Matt Storrs who will return to the outfield; Ruben Rodriguez who is back in the outfield; speedy Zayne Colegrove who will take centerfield; returning outfielder Patrick Mellott; and returning catcher and outfielder Joel Storrs.

One sophomore is returning, outfielder Thomas Ehman, along with two first-year tenth graders, outfielder Collin McCabe and infielder Ben Grieser. Grieser is showing some good pre-season hitting skills.

Freshmen players are Justin White, Wade Burkholder, Koby Biddix and Jared Wagner. 

Colegrove expects Wagner and Biddix to contribute to the team right away.

“Overall we should be much more competitive this year,” Coach Colegrove said. “We have more kids working on pitching to give us more arms for throwing. We should be solid defensively, and we hope to continue to progress offensively with better hitting and maybe more bunting as well.”

• The Eagles start the season Saturday with a double-header at Montpelier. The league season opens Monday at Stryker.

FAYETTE SOFTBALL: Fayette’s softball squad is young, but the girls have considerable experience playing together in summer ball. Coaches Kelsey Spangler and Jenny Bates hope that experience and camaraderie will carry the team to success in the 2012 season.

The Eagles kicked off the season Tuesday and jump into league play Thursday at Stryker. Fayette travels Saturday to Fairview.

“Most of these girls have played together since they were 8, 9, 10 years old during the summer softball program,” Coach Bates said.

There’s only one senior on the squad— second baseman Janaye Smith—but she’s joined by eight other returning letter-winners.

Junior Tiffany Bates is back on the mound after backing up Rachel Seiler last season. Carli Sly returns to the outfield and Jessica White is back in the infield.

Sophomore returners are outfielder/catcher Brittany Croskey, outfielder Megan Garza, pitcher/first baseman Taylor Hartman, catcher Jena Myers and infielder/pitcher Mikayla Smith.

The other returner is junior Sydney Brown who may see some time on the mound and in the outfield.

 Sophomore Madelyn Maginn joins the team for the first time along with freshmen Ceairia Keller, Paige Lantz and Rachel Smith.

“We have a few girls nursing some injuries, but they seem to be hanging tough,” Bates said. “If we can keep the girls healthy, we have high expectations for our team.”

She sees Edon and Pettisville as the top teams in the league, and Hilltop, North Central and Stryker seem to be fairly evenly matched.

“We’re looking to surprise some teams and take some games from all of them,” she said. “Our girls have positive attitudes and are working very hard.”

MORENCI BASEBALL: Plenty of new players, along with a new coach, mark the beginning of Morenci’s 2012 baseball season.

Adrian College student Jaren Stutzman took over as head coach for the Bulldogs and he’ll be assisted by another former Adrian College player, Joey Dubina.

Stutzman has nine freshmen on his team of 16 players and he’s still working on a starting line-up for the April 12 opener against Lenawee Christian School.

There are four seniors on the roster, although only two are returners from the 2011 season—Daniel Stutzman and Riley Burk. Simon Jeffers didn’t play baseball last season and Robert Mandelc, a French exchange student, is just learning the game.

Junior Desmond Alcock brings some experience and leadership to the squad, but he’s going to miss at least three weeks of the season due to an injury.

Sophomore Eli Decker will return to his position behind the plate and he’ll be joined by returning sophomore Rayce Price.

Freshmen are Bobby Black, Hunter Borton, Shawn Feltz, Michael Heinze, Chris Hinkley, Torin Merillat, Jacob Morin, Austin Sandusky and Tucker Stover.

Daniel Stutzman will put in time on the mound again this season and Coach Stutzman is also working with Sandusky and Borton on pitching duties.

“There are a lot of hard-working guys,” Stutzman said, “and they’ve put in the time and effort to be successful.”

He’s seeing a lot of desire to learn the game, and with so much inexperience among the Bulldogs, hard work should lead to playing time, Stutzman said.

After the opener against LCS, the Bulldogs dive into league action against Madison. Non-league action includes a visit from Reading and a trip to Addison for a tournament.

Morenci is the site of this year’s Class D district tournament.

MORENCI GOLF: Morenci golf coach Joe Wohlgamuth is looking for a few more students to join the team for the spring season. With competition set to begin April 9, only two people are on the high school team.

 Practices are underway at De-Mor Hills Golf Course and the sport is open to any student in grades nine through 12.

Wohlgamuth currently has returning junior Kendrick Taylor, who was a regional finalist last season, and returning sophomore Colin Richardson. 

Wohlgamuth will be assisted by Mike Taylor.

Anyone interested in joining the team should visit the school office or call 458-7502.

MORENCI SOFTBALL: Need a definition of a rebuilding year? Take a look at Morenci’s softball squad.

Coach Kay Johnson has eight girls back from last season, but the returning starters are far outweighed by what she lost.

‘We’re trying to rework all the positions except Matea Garcia at shortstop,” Johnson said, and it might be a while before she has a solid handle on who will be playing where.

Garcia, a senior, brings the most experience back to the squad, but classmates Shaden Olmstead and Amanda Osborne also have some experience. Osborne put in some time in the outfield, and although Olmstead played more, she wasn’t often used as a batter.

“I hope to take advantage of their quickness,” Johnson said.

Hannah Jeffers returns with the most experience among the juniors. She’ll serve as catcher this season after playing backup in that position last year.

Taylor Schisler will spend some time on the mound when she’s not at first base. She’s joined by infielders Taylor Bryant, Jessica Storrs and Ashley VanBrandt.

Sophomores Julie Terry and Chloe Molitierno have limited experience from last season. They’re working at second base along with an outfield spot.

Freshman McKenzie Hilton is working on pitching, along with Emily Schmidt. Cheyenne Sands is the third freshman. As a left-hander, Johnson hopes Schmidt might be able to keep the ball away from some batters.

“We’ll look at a lot of people in different positions,” Coach Johnson said. “It could take half the season to connect all the dots, and we’ll struggle through our early games.”

Johnson expects Clinton and Summerfield to fight for the league crown, but Whiteford, Madison and Britton-Deerfield all have some good athletes.

The Bulldogs have two new opponents on this year’s schedule: Reading and Vandercook Lake. 

The Bulldogs open the season today at Hudson, then take a break until April 12.

MORENCI TRACK: If Morenci’s track teams can pick on someone their own size, they might pick up a victory this season. Otherwise, look only for individual honors with two small squads.

This year’s boys team has only a dozen athletes participating while the girls have 11.

“We have some good talent, but no depth,” coach Brad Brown said. “We could do well against teams with similar numbers.”

The boys may field only a single relay team and will also give up points without a hurdler and a pole vaulter.

The girls don’t have enough for relays, either, although freshman Madi Gleckler aims to give pole vaulting a try—Morenci’s first in several years.

The boys have three seniors, sprinter and long jumper Monte Gibson, thrower and 400-meter runner Logan Drummond and sprinter and high jumper Simon Jeffers.

Juniors include distance runners Luke and Jake Spaulding, long jumper and long sprinter Billy White and middle distance runner Mitch Gallup.

Sophomore Reagan Stowell will run distance events and classmate Travis Zuvers is a thrower.

The freshmen are sprinter Austin Sandusky, distance runner Tyler Sterling and thrower Logan Vaughn.

Long sprint runner Kourtney Cousino is the only senior on the girls team. Throwers Katie Cox, Kira Beroske and Taylor Baugh are returning juniors, along with hurdler and sprinter Brooke Bovee.

The sophomore class has two more throwers—Makiha Lockwood and Ali Piercy—and distance ace Tatyana Pless.

In addition to Glecker, freshmen include thrower Becca Heinze and and distance runner Sammy Mikulski. Glecker will also run distances.

The Bulldogs entertain Pittsford and Addison April 10.

  • 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.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • 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.

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