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Clawson chomping at the bit to defend its MAC Silver title

David Harlukowicz will be among the leaders of the Clawson High baseball team this season. Coach Ralph Haney's squad won the MAC Silver Division championship last year. (For the Daily Tribune/JIM EVANS)

It seems that Old Man Winter has become a baseball fan of sorts. But his presence is keeping local high school teams inside practicing in gyms and reconstructing their schedules with a pencil and big eraser in hand.

Clawson head baseball coach Ralph Haney and assistant Scott Weaver can’t wait to get the team on the diamond to defend its 22-8 record and MAC Silver Division title from last season. With a roster of 12 on varsity and 14 on his JV squad, the Trojans have experience but a young team.

“Actually we’re pretty young. I’ve got four seniors and the rest are sophomores and juniors,” Haney said.

The three captains and senior players – David Harlukowicz, Matt Pike, and Cam Campana – will be relied upon heavily.

“Harlukowicz will be our number one pitcher and our number four hitter. Pike is a four-year starting infielder for me and he’ll hit in the number three spot. And my number two pitcher and first baseman is Campana.” Haney said. “Those are the three guys I’m going to be counting on to make a lot of big plays for us.”

Even though the harsh winter weather and multiple inches of snow has kept the team indoors most of the time, they’ve been working non-stop with the team captains to get in shape.

“This is the best in Clawson history of guys getting together to work out,” he said. “A lot of indoor practice at training centers. A lot of catching drills, hitting drills and pitching drills. We try to have some open gyms on Saturdays for any kids from little league on up just to play catch and anything. The captains run that. I think we’ve turned the corner and we are looking good.”

The winter weather has already delayed the season one week but opening day is set for Tuesday when Clawson welcomes Hamtramck at 4:45 p.m. Haney knows the schedule is filled with tough opponents but the team is ready for the challenge.

“We won the MAC Silver Division and our district last year and our team goal is to win the MAC Silver and then go play somebody good in the districts,” he said.

The Trojans will come to play according to Haney.

“We don’t have a lot of big power hitters but we have a lot of guys who find a way to get on base,” he said. “And they are all fundamentally sound on offense and defense.”

Pitching wise, Haney is just looking to find the plate and let his players make plays.

“Our number one rule with our pitchers is to throw strikes and let our defense get a chance to play,” he said. “No walks. If a guy gets on base hold the runner and give our guys a chance to make a play.”

Haney knows his division will be competitive throughout.

“I don’t know much about Sterling Heights but Center Line is always competitive. Roseville is always going to be the biggest school in the MAC Silver and he’s got a lot of players over there with a good chance to win the league title. East Detroit holds its own. Fitzgerald is always competitive and everybody gets their turn at some up and down years.”

The team is still raising funds to continue the upgrade of Clawson City Field. Haney is constructing a press box and will replace the two stolen flags from last season with money donated by The Knights of Columbus. He’s also looking to upgrade the outfield fencing at some point.

“The Clawson Lions Club is helping me construct a press box on top of the third base dugout,” Haney said. “The weather hasn’t been cooperating but we hope to have it up early in the season. And we have a new scoreboard thanks to the Clawson Boosters. We’ve got a new PA system as well.”

Haney will continue to fundraise for improvements.

“No one knows the last time the fences were fixed so it’s my mission this spring to get a fencing company in there to help with that,” he said. “We’re also putting up a flag pole and we’ll have a Veterans Night where they post the colors.”

Now Old Man Winter needs to get off the field to get the season started.

Last Updated: 3/31/2014 11:55:52 PM EST

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