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Baseball, softball, soccer teams are slated to visit our area fields


Tri-City Area teams hopeful season starts this week


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Dryden’s Sarah DeCeuninck (left) and April Warner (right) battle Jessica Lavalla (center) for a fly ball during a practice outside this past week. photo by Kevin Kissane.

March 26, 2008
TRI-CITY AREA — The snow has finally started to melt, now if only the temperatures would follow suit.

That can mean only one thing. You guessed it, the start of another spring sports season is just around the corner.

This week our area baseball, softball and girls' soccer teams are scheduled to see action for the first time.

So look over the schedule closely, put on an extra layer or two of clothing and head on out to watch your favorite team compete.

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Here is a look at who those squads lost to graduation, who returns and their outlooks for the upcoming season:

BASEBALL...

Imlay City Spartans

Coach and Assistants: Imlay City is coached by Mark Owen. He is assisted by John Forti.

Top losses: Eric Vasquez (pitcher), Neal Thompson (shortstop), Jim Hensley (first base), Andrew Rodak (designated hitter) and Garrett Medaugh (outfield) are the top Imlay City losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Mark Owen Jr. (pitcher), are Imlay City's top returnees.

League record: Imlay City fashioned an 8-6 mark versus BWAC rivals, good enough for third place.

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Chris Creger, of Almont, gets ready to throw out a baserunner during a practice inside last week. photo by Kevin Kissane.
Overall mark: The Spartans managed a 16-15 overall mark.

Postseason results: Imlay City bowed out of postseason play with an 11-4 loss to host Marysville in a Division 3 district championship encounter.

League favorites: Owen lists Richmond and Armada as the probable BWAC frontrunners.

Season outlook: "We have the makings of a good team this season," Coach Owen said. "If we can cover all the facets of the game I believe we could challenge for the league title," he noted.

"The kids have all worked hard during the offseason. Hopefully, that was time well spent."

Almont Raiders

Coach and Assistants: Almont is coached by Leigh Stroh.

Top losses: Andrew Malburg (pitcher, shortstop), Brad Johnson (pitcher), Ron Heikkila (pitcher/third base), Adam Hoffa (catcher/third base) and Chad Salswedel (first base) are Almont's top losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Zack Lowell (pitcher/catcher/outfield), Brian Thomas (first base/third base), Chris Creger (outfield), Steve Mack (outfield) and Pat Russell (pitcher/infield) are Almont's top returnees.

League record: Almont went 5-9 versus BWAC adversaries.

Overall mark: The Raiders also posted a 12-11 overall mark.

Postseason results: Almont edged Brown City, 4-2, in a Division 3 district championship game at Sandusky High School.

The following week Almont exited postseason action with a 6-1 loss to fifth-rated Mayville in a Division 3 regional semifinal confrontation at Bad Axe High School.

League favorites: Stroh pegs Richmond and Cros-Lex, the defending BWAC co-champions, as the favorites to claim league honors at season's end.

Season outlook: We are really young this season," Coach Stroh said. "How well those players develop will go a long ways toward telling where we wind up," he emphasized.

Capac Chiefs

Coach and Assistants: Capac is coached by Zeke Ramirez, who takes over the coaching assignment from Bob Abraham.

Top losses: John Koter-manski (pitcher), Steve Gilbert (pitcher/first base), Brian Pietrzak (catcher), Chris Mousseau (third base) and Frank Williamson (centerfield) are the top Capac losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Jon Botwin (pitcher/shortstop), Joe Frazier (pitcher/first base), Travis York (pitcher/infield), Tom Brys (pitcher/catcher/first base) and Cameron Lauwers (second base/shortstop) are Capac's top returnees.

League record: Capac wound up with a 4-10 mark versus BWAC rivals, good enough for seventh place.

Overall mark: The Chiefs finished with a 9-13 overall mark.

Postseason results: Capac bowed out of postseason play with a 6-2 Division 3 pre-district setback to visiting Almont.

League favorites: Ramirez lists Richmond as the team to beat as far as the BWAC race is concerned.

Season outlook: "From what I have seen so far the potential is here for success," Coach Ramirez said. ""It will be a learning process as they get used to a new coaching staff," he noted.

"We hope to make some noise in the league. Our team is looking forward to getting outside and starting the season."

Dryden Cardinals

Coach and Assistants: Dryden is coached by Allan Ferrett. He is assisted by Jim Crean.

Top losses: Trevor Crean (pitcher/catcher), Jake Clark (third base), Derek Dunlop (shortstop), Steve DeCeuninck (second base), Rob Ladner (first base), Justin Klein (centerfield), Jeff Fournier (outfield) are Dryden's top losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Tom Ferrett (pitcher), Jeff Chisholm (catcher/third base) and Josh Pridemore (pitcher/second base) are Dryden's top returnees.

League record: Dryden went 15-3 versus NCTL adversaries, good enough for a share of first place with Memphis.

Overall mark: The Cardinals also posted a 22-13 overall mark.

Postseason results: Dryden turned back host Genesee, 7-4, in a Division 4 district championship confrontation.

It marked the first district title for Dryden since the 1997 campaign.

The following weekend Dryden bowed out with a 12-4 regional semifinal loss to Royal Oak Shrine at Sterling Heights Parkway Christian High School.

League favorites: Ferrett lists Memphis, North Huron and Carsonville-Port Sanilac as the teams his squad will have to get past to defend their NCTL co-championship this spring.

Season outlook:

"We lost a lot of talent to graduation," Coach Ferrett said. "That may be true but we have some players coming back," he noted.

"This is also the third straight year we have fielded a junior varsity team. We should benefit from the addition of some of those players who have two years of experience under their belts."

SOFTBALL...

Imlay City Spartans

Coach and Assistants: Imlay City is coached by Jean Bannister.

Top losses: Katelyn Preisel (first base), Brittany Super (second base), Morgan Iloncaie (third base) and Marcia Van Dyk (outfield) are the top Imlay City losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Mikayla Pardon (pitcher), Alyssa Snyder (pitcher), Miranda Steffler (catcher), Ashley Timmer (shortstop) and Leigha Rankin (outfield) are Imlay City's top returnees.

League record: Imlay City went 10-4 pitted against BWAC rivals, good enough for third place.

Overall mark: The Spartans forged a 19-16 overall mark.

Postseason results: Imlay City bowed out with a 6-1 setback to St. Clair in a Division 2 district semifinal meeting at Marysville High School.

League favorites: Bannister lists Richmond as the probable BWAC champion.

After that, Bannister said the rest of the league race is to close to call.

Season outlook: "We lost several key players to graduation, Coach Bannister said. "How we do finding replacements for them will determine what type of season we have," she added.

"Practices are going well. The girls have been positive and willing to learn what it takes to succeed."

Capac Chiefs

Coach and Assistants: Capac is coached by Jessica Bennett. She is assisted by Bill Schultz.

Top losses: Jessica Blackstock (outfield), Kristie Wheeler (pitcher), Amanda Gonzalez (catcher), Ashley Scott (shortstop) and Jessica Gundlach (first base) were Capac's top losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Ashley Mousseau (pitcher/infield), Katelyn Kain (third base), Courtney Rawlins (first base), Alex Miller (outfield) and Anna Cyrus (outfield) are Capac's top returnees.

League record: Capac fashioned a 5-9 BWAC mark, paving the way to a tie for fourth place with Algonac.

Overall mark: The Chiefs managed a 13-17 overall mark.

Postseason results: Capac bowed out with a 2-1 setback to Almont in a Division 3 pre-district battle it hosted.

League favorites: Bennett lists Richmond as the BWAC title favorite. She also expects Imlay City, Algonac and Armada to have a say as to who the eventual league champion will be.

Season outlook: We have a young squad this season," Coach Bennett said. "Our team will be looking to gain experience as the season goes along," she noted.

"It is to early to tell how many wins we might get. Our goal is to improve with each game."

Almont Raiders

Coach and Assistants: Almont is coached by Dennis Garner.

Top losses: Andrea Walker (shortstop) and Brittany Maguire (pitcher/second base) and Janet Gebauer (first base) are the top Almont losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Kayla Hagle (pitcher) and Lyndsay Klebba (catcher) are Almont's top returnees.

League record: Almont went 2-12 pitted against BWAC rivals, good enough for eighth place.

Overall mark: The Raiders forged a 9-15 overall mark.

Postseason results: Almont opened postseason action with a 2-1 pre-district win against host Capac in Division 3 action.

They then continued their postseason run with a 17-7 district semifinal victory over Memphis, before falling to Brown City by a 4-2 count in the championship confrontation at Sandusky High School.

League favorites: Garner lists Richmond as the team with the best shot of bringing home BWAC honors at season's end. He also believes Algonac, Armada and Imlay City could be factors.

Season outlook: "We have a good-sized turnout this spring," said Coach Garner. "Our team does not have a lot of experience but we have an enthusiastic group of underclassmen," he noted.

"We hope to build from that."

Dryden Cardinals

Coach and Assistants: Dryden is coached by Gary Maynard.

Top losses: Liz Cummings (catcher) and Mallory Furgerson (third base and first base) were Dryden's top losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Sarah DeCeuninck (shortstop), April Warner (first base), Jessica Lavalla (catcher) Natalie Maynard (pitcher), Sarah Slack (pitcher), Lauren Sohn (second base), Cortney Lowney (third base), Alyssa Allen (leftfield), Alyssa Moyer (centerfield), Mandi Jones (second base), Sam LaRue (second base) and Allison Sandula (outfield) are Dryden's top returnees.

League record: Dryden went 7-11 versus North Central Thumb League rivals.

Overall mark: The Cardinals managed a 10-16 overall mark.

Postseason results: Dryden bowed out with a 12-1 loss to New Lothrop in a Division 4 district semifinal clash at Genesee High School.

League favorites: Maynard sees Kingston and Memphis as two teams that should be in the running for the North Central Thumb League South Division title. He also believes his team could push those ballclubs for that distinction.

Season outlook: "We have a lot of players back from last season," Coach Maynard said. "That should help us move up in the league title race," he noted.

"We also have good numbers (30 tried out for the team, prompting a junior varsity squad to be added). I am looking forward to the season."



SOCCER...

Imlay City Spartans

Coach and Assistants: Imlay City is coached by Rick Lee. He is assisted by Jamie Kitts.

Top losses: Caitlyn Schaller (forward) and Kaelynne Hoffner (defense) are the top Imlay City losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Beth Caldwell (forward), Taylor Lee (midfield) and Erin Booth (defense) are Imlay City's top returnees.

League record: Imlay Cith put together a 4-8 BWAC showing, good enough for fifth place.

Overall mark: The Spartans wound up with a 5-10-2 overall mark.

Postseason results: Imlay City exited postseason play with a 7-0 road setback to Frankenmuth in a Division 3 district soccer opening road matchup.

League favorites: Lee pegs Armada and Richmond as the favorites to win the BWAC title. He expects Imlay City to be in the mix with them.

Season outlook: "I like the attitude and work ethic that the girls have given me," Coach Lee said. "I feel that the hustle that we display this year will offset the lack of experience," he noted.

Almont Raiders

Coach and Assistants: Kurt Hennig is Almont's coach. He is assisted by Shannon Jacksy.

Top losses: Breeana Streber (forward), Audey Keisic (forward), Cara Mazur (midfield), Katie Marcath (defense), Amber Fiore (defense) and Holly Hoover (defense) are the top Almont losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Heather Curtis (forward), Ashley Fiore (forward), Chelsea Dudek (midfielder/forward), Lisa Marcath (defense/midfield), Hannah Robeson (defense), Taylor Fiebelkorn (defense) and Melissa Anderson (goalie) are the top Almont returnees.

League record: Almont fashioned a 5-5-2 BWAC showing en route to a fourth-place finish.

Overall mark: The Raiders fashioned an 8-8-2 overall mark.

Postseason results: Almont bowed out with a 1-0 road setback to Algonac in a Division 3 district opening round matchup.

League favorites: Hennig lists Armada, Richmond and Algonac as the teams with the best chances of claiming BWAC honors this spring.

Season outlook: "We are a very young team but we have high hopes going in to the upcoming season," Coach Hennig commented. "I look for us to get better as the season goes along," he noted.

Capac Chiefs

Coach and Assistants: Capac is coached by Todd Stank. He is assisted by Erin Kephart.

Top losses: Therese O'Brien (defense) is Capac's top loss due to graduation.

Top returnees: Sara Tomeo (midfielder), Sabrina Connell (midfielder), Taylor Sinda (forward), Samantha Batchelder (all-around) and Emily Koning (goalie) are Capac's top returnees.

League record: Capac put together a 0-12 BWAC showing, good enough for seventh place.

Overall mark: The Chiefs wound up with a 1-17 overall mark.

Postseason results: Capac exited postseason play with an 8-0 road setback to Richmond in a Division 3 district opening round encounter.

League favorites: Stank pegs Armada, Algonac and Richmond as the probable BWAC title contenders.

Season outlook: "Our numbers are not high," Coach Stank said. "However, the girls have been working hard in practice which is encouraging," he noted.

"This will be a building year for us. Our goal is to show improvement with each game."

Dryden Cardinals

Coach and Assistants: Jeff Sturza is Dryden's coach.

Top losses: Jessie Stewart, Shae Bores, Amanda Henzel and Falicia Krol are the top Dryden losses due to graduation.

Top returnees: Abby Warnars (goalie), Brittany Lewis (midfielder), Liz Sturza (forward), Brooke Burgess (defense), Shelby Couch (defense) and Kelly Jackman (defense) are Dryden's top returnees.

Overall mark: The Cardinals managed a 1-14-2 overall mark.

Postseason results: Dryden bowed out with a 6-0 setback to host Memphis in a Division 4 district semifinal matchup.

Season outlook: "I am planning on a successful and exciting soccer season," Coach Sturza said. "Last spring we were inhibited by several injuries that left us playing with just enough players." he noted.

"This season we have a roster of 15 players and 13 are seasoned soccer players. Our successes will be based on the cohesiveness of the players. The players have a tight bond that allows them to pre-determine field positions and passing skills."

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