03-30-2017 Tri-City Area Sports

Watervliet softball seeking golden season

 The Watervliet varsity softball team is ready to hit the ground running this season and there is a lot to be excited about.

Watervliet head coach Tom Golden shared that the team has set “high goals for the season: play better as a team, win our conference, win districts, and be the first Panther softball team to win a regional game.”

The team graduated four seniors from last year’s squad, and with only two seniors on this year’s team you might wonder just how good the Panthers could be. Wonder no more. The team is chock full of experience, hitting power, and athleticism. Golden has a bench deep with hitting talent, an infield full of aggressive players who will knock down the ball, and a three-woman pitching crew rife with experience, composure, and speed. The team boasts 11 players on the varsity roll with eight returning letter winners.

According to Golden, “The team will be led by two seniors Logan Mizwicki and Mercede Daugherty. Logan is the leader out on the field, and Daugherty is the top hitter.”

Mizwicki will cover shortstop duties, while Daugherty will play the hot corner at third base.

Junior Kara Liles will take the mound for the Lady Panthers, marking her third year as a starting pitcher. She will be joined in the rotation by junior Ariana Rowe; this will mark Rowe’s second year as a starter on the pitching squad. Newcomer sophomore Celina Klimkiewicz will round out the rotation.

Golden will also rely on the strength of his junior class. The juniors returning to the team include: Liles, Rowe, Zoe Smith, and Taylor Shafer.

Shafer will play second base, while Smith will be in the outfield.

Also returning to the squad is sophomore Mikayla Clay. Clay is one of three sophomores on the team and will serve as a catcher.

Newcomers to the Panther varsity team are juniors Madalyn Hutchins and Jaelyn Pitre, sophomores Celina Klimkiewicz and Sabrina Klimkiewicz, and Alex Worley, the lone freshman on the team.

Sabrina Klimkiewicz will cover the outfield as sister Celina is third in the pitching rotation. Pitre has been tabbed for the outfield, and both Hutchins and Worley will spend time behind home plate as catcher.

While Golden is relying on “the experience of our returning eight letter winners,” the team will work to improve their “base running and playing more as a team,” he said. “We have improved our non-conference schedule to help us prepare for our conference and district play.”

Golden will be assisted by Mandi Johns, Bill Forrester, and Shannon McLaughlin.

Mark your calendars now! Softball districts will be hosted by Watervliet beginning May 30. The district includes the home team and Bangor, Coloma, Hartford, and Lawton. Depending on how the pairings shake out, you can bet there will be some great district games on tap!

TYLER BRANT RECEIVES SCHOLAR-ATHLETE AWARD… Tyler Brant (center) of Watervliet High School was honored as a recipient of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Scholar-Athlete Award at the 2017 MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing on March 25. Shown with Brant are: John E. “Jack” Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA; and Vic Verchereau, vice president of marketing for Farm Bureau Insurance. Brant will receive a $1,000 scholarship from Farm Bureau Insurance to be used at the institution of higher learning he attends this fall. Farm Bureau Insurance awarded 32 scholarships, pro-portionately by school classifi-cation, to students with a 3.50 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) grade point average who have pre-viously lettered in at least one sport in which postseason com-petition is sponsored by the MHSAA. The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of volun-tary membership by more than 1,400 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which ex-ists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and com-petition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.

Hartford Indians open baseball season with two losses

 The Hartford Indians varsity baseball team suffered two losses this week to open their season.

The team traveled to South Haven on Thursday, March 23 for their season opener. The Indians lost 4-1 to the Rams. Hartford’s lone run came in the fourth inning.

South Haven scored two runs in the second inning and posted one run in both the third and fourth innings for the win.

Hartford’s Luke Manning, Jared Henslee, and Garrod Johnson shared pitching duties in the loss.

TEAMWORK… Hartford’s Jessica Cortes and Olivia Kling ran drills during practice last Thursday. Hartford girls’ varsity soccer team is now under the direction of Abel Robles. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

On Friday, March 24, the squad traveled to take on Three Oaks River Valley. The Indians improved their offense Friday and scored five runs. However, a strong Three Oaks team notched the 10-5 win.

Hartford broke out for two runs in the first inning but still trailed Three Oaks 9-2 after one. Three Oaks added another run in the second inning and did not score during the balance of the contest.

The score remained 10-2 after two innings until Hartford scored one run in the fifth inning and two more in the seventh.

Henslee led Hartford with two hits and two RBIs. Johnson, according to head coach Dan Brininstool, “pitched well in relief as he threw five and one-third innings, only giving up one run and keeping Hartford in the game as he slowed down River Valley’s offensive attack.”

Watervliet duffers ready to hit the course

The Watervliet varsity golf team may be small on numbers, but it is large on talent.

The team is comprised of three seniors, two juniors, one sophomore and one freshman.

Seniors hitting the course this year include Matt Lambrecht, Trevor Townsend, and Rakmanjot Singh.  The trio will be joined by juniors Jordan Leoni and Isaac Workman. Payton Priebe is the squad’s lone sophomore, and Isaac Wilmoth is the sole freshman.

Lambrecht, Townsend, and Workman are returning from last year’s squad. Watervliet varsity head coach Ken Dietz is depending on their leadership to aid this year’s team and new crop of golfers.

“I look for each of the three (returning golfers) to earn some type of all-league honors. Each golfer is capable of this goal,” Dietz commented.

Dietz is also ready to get the season underway. He commented he’s “excited to see how these three progresses. They have improved over the past two seasons and this should be the season their hard work pays off.”

The team’s home match will be held Friday, April 21 at Paw Paw Lake Golf Club in Watervliet. The team then travels to Lake Michigan Hills on Monday, April 24.

The squad will also play nearby Beeches Golf Club in South Haven on Friday, May 5; Lake Cora Hills Golf Course in Paw Paw on Monday, May 8; and Pipestone Creek Golf Course on Friday, May 12.

Panther baseball key is versatility

SIGN OF SPRING… It’s a sure sign of spring when you see baseball players hitting the field for practice. Here, members of Watervliet’s varsity squad warmed up last week on Wednesday. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

The key to this year’s Watervliet varsity baseball team is versatility, according to head coach Josh Tremblay.

Last year’s team went 19-19 overall and was 6-6 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference – Lakeshore Division.

This year, Tremblay sees his squad being capable of many things. “We have a lot of arms returning this year. We have a very versatile team as far as players and the multiple positions they can play,” he commented.

Also working to the team’s advantage is the new edict from the Michigan High School Athletic Association that limits the amount of pitches thrown by a pitcher to 105. The pitch count rule was adopted by MHSAA on December 2, 2016 and requires a pitcher tossing 26-50 pitches to have one day of rest. Pitchers throwing 51-75 pitches get two days of rest, and if a pitcher tosses 76-105 pitches on a single calendar day, they are required to receive a three-day rest. “This should work to our advantage,” Tremblay stated.

Tremblay will be relying on two seniors to provide the team with leadership. “Cameron Rendo and Tyler Brant have both been three-year varsity players. We will look to their leadership with our relatively young team.”

Rendo, an All-Conference Honorable Mention last year, will cover the infield and some pitching duties.

Brant, a First Team All-Conference selection last year, is the squad’s catcher.

Ryan Lefor is a senior infielder on this year’s squad.

“We also return juniors Zack Pickens and Bryant Kieft, both were every-inning players for us last season,” Tremblay explained.

Pickens was selected to First Team All-District and All-Conference Honorable Mention rolls last year. He is an infielder and pitcher.

Kieft is an All-Conference Honorable Mention infielder and pitcher.

Tate Halamka, Ben Myas, and Ryan Chisek round out the junior class team members. Halamka and Chisek are outfielders who can also pitch; Myas is an outfielder.