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2014 Huron League baseball preview PHOTOS

  • --Riverview sophomore Tyler Chase will return as the squad's catcher this spring. (News-Herald File Photo)
  • --Dan Kalbfleisch, Huron's football coach, will also head up the baseball team in 2014. (News-Herald File Photo)
Despite losing former Coach AJ Richardson to retirement after Huron lost to Milan in districts, the Chiefs have a bright future under new Coach Dan Kalbfleisch. It’s an easy transition for Kalbfleisch and the team, as he is the current football coach as well as a teacher in the school and he runs the weight room.

“Most of the players know me. I have a little advantage over a lot of first year coaches, because I know the kids,” said Kalbfleisch.

This season, Huron will look to be one of the most competitive teams in the Huron League.

Returning for the Chiefs are star senior shortstop Eli Scott and juniors Miles Molnar (third base), and first baseman and pitcher Mark Cash.

“Mark’s our ace, they’re juniors, but we expect them to play like seniors, because they’ve been on varsity so darn long,” said Kalbfleisch.

Both Molnar and Cash have been on the team since they were freshmen, and Scott was Huron’s only all-region player on the team last year.

Along with the three key returners, the Chiefs are also bringing on two new players, seniors in fact.

“The two new seniors this year that didn’t play last year, Jesse McGowan and Tyler Keller, they should contribute as well. We’re going to ask a lot of our first year varsity guys to contribute but I think we’re able to compete for the league title and the district title,” said Kalbfleisch.

Despite the change for the team in the head coaching position, Kalbfleisch knows his team will compete.

“Milan’s pretty good, they got a lot back. I know Monroe St. Mary’s has a lot coming back too. Those two teams are definitely going to be tough, and of course Airport and Jefferson are always tough. There’s no doubt about it that our league is tough and our district is tough. We don’t expect anything to be any walk in the park,” said Kalbfleisch.

Although no one is really sure when the season will begin, the Chiefs are ready, and being one of the more veteran groups to come back in the Huron League, Kalbfleisch is ready for his team to compete for a district championship and more.

“We’ve been focusing on championship baseball, and just playing as best we can. That’s basically as well can do right now, is become the best team we can every day and hopefully that’ll take us where we want it to.”



Grosse Ile

The cold and long winter has put a damper on the upcoming spring sports season, but the delay hasn’t put down the spirits of the Grosse Ile Red Devils baseball team. Last year, the Red Devils lost to the Riverview Pirates in the district final by a couple of runs.

The Red Devils are bringing back one big player that Coach Cliff Whitehouse knows will be key to the 2014 season.

Senior Tommy Daly is back for his fourth year on varsity and is a team leader, according to Whitehouse. He was all-district the past two years, and he also lettered as a freshman.

“To have a four-year letter winner back, if there’s a key piece in a baseball puzzle, he’s it,” said Whitehouse.

“He does pitch, (but) the best part of his game is hitting and fielding. He’s going to have as much of an impact leadership ways. He’s not the most vocal guy but the way he goes about his business, it’s second to none. It’s always yes coach, no coach since I’ve met him as a freshman.”

Two other returning starters are seniors Thomas Lawler and Eric Smorch and the Red Devils are also bringing up two underclassmen, including Eric’s little brother Neil Smorch.

Another big addition for the Red Devils, is junior Steve Plyler. Both Neil Smorch and Plyler had the top two batting averages on the JV team and were brought up for the playoffs last year.

Grosse Ile graduated a large class of seniors last year, so Daly and Co. will have big shoes to fill.

“We graduated a pretty deep class last year, a lot of guys, baseball was their favorite sport. They worked hard at it, I think they were pretty good ballplayers. There’s other guys that have to step up, and I think there are guys that can. We lost our No. 1, 3, 4 and 5 pitchers,” said Whitehouse.

The Red Devils are schedule to open up the Huron League season with their first game at Flat Rock on Monday at 4:30 p.m.



Riverview

Canceled games have already happened for the Riverview Pirates, but Coach Chris Haut isn’t panicking. He’s taking the extra time to put his team together, and make sure that this team is ready to go in 2014. Haut gets excited about every spring season, and who wouldn’t, considering the winter that southeast Michigan has seen thus far.

“Spring is exciting, it’s always refreshing,” said Haut. Spring hasn’t hit yet, as the snow continues to melt, and the ground begins to thaw, Haut knows that the Huron League will be tough, but his Pirates squad is going to be competitive.

“I like our makeup, we’ve been working hard. It looks like we’re going to be pretty competitive and you just never know, with the spring, how it’s going to turn out.”

Haut already has a lot of his team already picked out. Returning at shortstop is senior Beau Yaremko, and at second base, junior Ben Menna. Senior David Archer will become the number one or number two pitcher, along with playing third base and first base.

One big hole that Haut is looking to fill includes three outfield spots. Austin Graham, Mike Allsbrooks, and Steve Pinkava will all look to fill those spots. Sophomore Tyler Chase returns at catcher.

“We’ve been pretty successful in the past. I expect us to be successful this year. We’ve got a nice nucleus back. We’ve got some nice newcomers that are going to help us out. I’m pretty positive about the upcoming season,” said Haut.

The Pirates were scheduled to open the Huron League season with a game at Milan on April 7.



Flat Rock

For the past three years, the Flat Rock Rams have lost in the district final. Coach Chris Elliott and his Rams are looking to make this losing streak stop and extend their season further into the summer.

In his 16th year, Elliott believes this could be his toughest, with some strong teams contending in the Huron League this year.

“Everybody has a legitimate No 1. There is some that have legitimate No. 2s as well, and you don’t see that very often. It’s going to be a battle every game,” said Elliott.

Although the winter has destroyed the first couple of weeks of the season, the Rams have been inside taking batting practice, and working on some fundamentals. No fielding though, as not the best ground balls come off of a hard basketball court.

“We’ve got our swings in, we’re putting our work in conditioning wise, we’re probably the most conditioned we’ve ever been, which hopefully this hard work’s going to pay off at the end,” said Elliott.

Last year, the Rams finished with around seven wins, and only with one mercy. In districts they lost to Milan, despite a 4-hit outing from pitcher Cam Hurst, who is back this year for his third season with Flat Rock.

Along with Hurst, the Rams will have a lot of senior leadership.

“The seniors have been leading by example with their work ethic and their kind of taking care of all the things that you expect,” said Elliott.

Elliott also expects his pitching to be the best in the Huron League this year. “Pitching wise, arm wise, we’re ahead of where we’ve been because all the kids that are going to be on the bump have been throwing all year, so that’s one thing that I would like to think we’re as far ahead as anyone else because the kids have really put the time in this winter.”

The Rams are expected to open up the season at Monroe Jefferson on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., as long as the snow melts, the ground thaws and the sun comes out regularly.

Last Updated: 3/27/2014 8:17:58 PM EST

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