Mt. Pleasant Brimming With Talent in 2016
MT. PLEASANT – After making consecutive appearances in the MHSAA Division 2 state finals in 2014 and 2015, the Mt. Pleasant baseball program solidified its place among the state’s best.
Under the guidance of coach Luke Epple, the Oilers have captured a trio of state championships (1996, 2007, 2014) and two runner-up finishes (2008, 2015) while failing to reach the state quarterfinals only once (2012).
In the last nine years alone, Mt. Pleasant has made three appearances in the state semifinals and four in the finals.
With its entire infield returning, including brothers Hunter and Logan Buczkowski on the mound, this spring promises to be no different for Mt. Pleasant.
"This year, our potential is quite high, because we have the pitching, we now have healthy catching and we have an infield that’s seasoned and ready to go,” said Epple, who marks his 23rd year with Oilers in 2016.
The 2015 Division 2 state runner-up, Mt. Pleasant makes the jump to Division 1 this season.
"Our goal is to win the conference and work our way to the state championship,” senior Zach Heeke said. “But we’ve got to focus on game one then game two, and then work our way to there.
"We did good in Division 2, but we want to play the best teams… If we’re going to go to a state championship, we’ve got to beat the best teams."
The Oilers find themselves in arguably the strongest district in Division 1, paired with the likes of perennial Division 1 power Bay City Western as well as Bay City Central, Midland Dow and host Midland.
Despite the postseason change, the Oilers like their chances of making a run, as the entire district is comprised of fellow Saginaw Valley League members.
"Our league’s pretty much all Division 1, so I think we’re ready to go,” senior Max Trucks said. “We always want to play the toughest competition, because we know that’s what we’re going to see in the tournament towards the end of the year."
In order to prep for a lengthy postseason run, the Oilers have once again loaded their schedule with some of the state’s best programs.
The Oilers kick off their season at the Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett Invitational on Saturday and will participate in the Jimmy Gerken Invitational at East Grand Rapids over Memorial Day weekend.
Mt. Pleasant opens its home season on April 12, welcoming in league foe Midland Dow.