Gielczyk: Glen Lake Preps for 2018

After going 32-8, finishing second in the Northwest Conference to undefeated league champion Frankfort with a 13-1 record and winning the MHSAA Division 4 district title last year, it would be fair to ask what the Glen Lake baseball team is going to do for an encore this spring.

It was the fourth straight 30-win season for the Lakers, and their sixth straight district championship.

That’s a difficult act to follow. But, it’s been done. Time and time again.

Glen Lake reached the state quarterfinals in 2015, losing to Rudyard, 2-1 after taking a 1-0 lead. The Lakers went 34-6 overall, and won the Northwest title with a 12-0 mark.

“The recent years have been pretty good to us,” noted Glen Lake baseball coach Kris Herman.

Although the loss of Jared Jackson, who was their No. 1 pitcher and starting shortstop, and was a First Team All-State selection and Second Team All-State catcher, Jacob Penny, who is playing at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, leaves Herman with a couple holes to fill, there is a solid core of incoming seniors returning with big game experience.

Herman says that junior Joey Fosmore is likely to replace Penny behind the plate this spring.

“Joey is an athletic player to begin with, and he has a very strong arm behind the plate,” Herman said. “He showed us last year when Jacob went down with an injury late in the season that he can handle the position in terms of receiving and throwing, and all the fundamentals.”

The Lakers are still trying to figure out the shortstop situation, and with everyone following the girls and boys basketball teams through their tournament runs, Herman has allowed the players time for travel.

“We’ve been pretty limited on preparations so far, and we’re going to be making those decisions on the fly,” said Herman. “It’s a double edged sword, in a good way.

“These kids have been through some really good experiences already with Gerry Angers and Rich Ruelas in the football and basketball seasons, so they definitely know how to compete. We’re going to have to lean on that early on.”

Wednesday’s sudden, and unwelcome snow storm that dumped several inches of snow — and with more on the way — the start of the season may be indefinitely delayed.

Glen Lake was scheduled to start the season without its seniors, who were supposed to leave for Washington in the midst of the blizzard. They would have missed the first couple of doubleheaders.

Key returners for the Lakers include seniors Nick Apsey, who is projected to be the team’s new No. 1 pitcher; Cade Peterson, team offensive Most Valuable Player last year; Brandon Tremble, Robbie Dezelski, Cameron Drzewiecki and Josh Bancroft.

All of them are returning starters from last year. Incoming juniors include Christian Barber, Wyatt Daniels, Ethan Kinnee and Dylan Wood.

“It takes awhile to put a baseball team together, primarily because you’re trying to build team chemistry,” said Herman. “Probably the most important thing is that hitters have to establish rhythm and timing against live pitching.

“We’re going to have to do that as efficiently and quickly as we can. Once we do that, I think we’re going to be in pretty good shape. It’s just a question of how long it’s going to take us to get to that point.”

Peterson was the Lakers leading hitter last season with a .416 average. He also had 10 doubles and 50 runs batted in. Apsey finished with a .404 average, and Dezelski batted .400, so the Lakers are in good shape there.

It gives the Lakers a solid middle of the order, and Herman likes some of the talent coming up as well. They don’t have any varsity numbers yet, but the potential exists for them to be productive contributors.

Frankfort also returns a ton of experience, while Benzie Central and Kingsley are expected to be good. Onekama can’t be overlooked, either, and Mesick is up and coming.

“The Northwest Conference is a very difficult baseball conference, and very difficult to win,” Herman said. “Any missed steps along the way can lead to disaster if you’re not careful. Fundamentals are very important.

“Particularly in the last 10 years, the conference has enjoyed a lot of postseason success. We’re very proud of that.”

Glen Lake has an especially tough non-conference schedule lined up this season and includes Traverse City Central, Traverse City St. Francis, Clare, Gaylord St. Mary, Grand Rapids West Catholic and Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker.

All of them are traditional state powers, and playing them should help get the Lakers ready for the state tournament.

Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at ggielczyk@jackpine.net for story ideas. 

Categories: Baseball