2018-04-05 / Sports

So much for opening day...

Baseball coaches don’t mind extra prep time

SPRING SPORTS in Leelanau County were scheduled to begin Wednesday with baseball and softball games at Suttons Bay. For obvious reasons, that didn’t happen. SPRING SPORTS in Leelanau County were scheduled to begin Wednesday with baseball and softball games at Suttons Bay. For obvious reasons, that didn’t happen. Lakers look to secure seventh straight district championship

Kris Herman has mixed emotions.

On one hand, the Glen Lake skipper is eager for the proverbial peanuts and crackerjacks, base knocks and smell of fresh-cut grass. On the other, a hefty helping of snow buys time.

Herman’s Lakers have been a bit preoccupied lately, be it a long run to the Class C basketball championship or a senior trip to Washington D.C. Pitcher and third baseman Cade Peterson, both a senior and a basketball standout, is still recovering from an ankle sprain suffered in the state title game.

As of Wednesday, the baseball team had just five practices under its belt — and opening day is slated at Lansing Christian against Manton Saturday.

For better or worse, that probably isn’t going to happen.

“We haven’t had much preparation, and our time together as a full team will be limited,” Herman said, “but, at this point, it’s worthless to worry about who you’re not. We are who we are: a talented, hard-working group willing to take instruction from a great coaching staff. I’ll take that six days a week and twice on Sunday.”

The team’s talent showed in 2017 as the Lakers posted their fourth straight 30-win season (32-8) and won a sixth straight district title. Two of four all-county honorees are back from that team, Peterson and outfielder Robbie Dezelski. Other returning starters back for their senior seasons are Nick Apsey, Brandon Tremble, Cameron Drzewiecki and Josh Bancroft.

For what it’s worth, Glen Lake checked in at No. 15 in the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Division 4 preseason rankings — well behind reigning Northwest Conference champion and top-ranked Frankfort.

“We have to establish team chemistry and timing for our hitters efficiently and quickly,” Herman said. “Once we do, we’ll be in good shape. Jerry Angers and Rich Ruelas have led these kids through some outstanding experiences. They definitely know how to compete, and we’re going to have to lean on that early on.”

The Lakers are slated to host the Panthers on Tuesday, weather pending.

Suttons Bay, meanwhile, has until May 15 to prepare for the Panthers.

“Frankfort was loaded last year and they get everybody back, but we’ve seen what that can do to people with a target on their backs,” said Suttons Bay coach Doug Periard, who led the Norsemen to a 10-20 2017 campaign.

Periard said he has 14 boys on this year’s team, which is led by fourth-year starter Kaleb Grant, a shortstop. The Norsemen will also lean on thirdyear starter Alec Rice, a third baseman, as well as first baseman Seth Megill and utility man Nick DeYoung, who are juniors. Six sophomores and four freshmen round on the roster.

Another new name on the Suttons Bay roster is assistant Steve Loucks, who coached the JV team years ago.

The roster at Lake Leelanau St. Mary, meanwhile, is home to 12 players after a 5-10 campaign last season.

The Eagles are slated to open at Gaylord St. Mary on Saturday, although that appears unlikely at this point.

“We’re going stir crazy inside, but we’ve still got a lot to learn with lots of young guys,” St. Mary coach Dewey Painter said on Wednesday.

As a result of his team’s youth, Painter said the Eagles will likely play a good number of JV teams this season.

His team currently features two seniors, including standout pitcher Harrison Schaub, in addition to two juniors, three sophomores, two freshmen and three eighth graders.

“This is just getting the young players a chance to be successful before we go to a full varsity schedule next year,” Painter said.

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