When coaches in the CMAC filled out their preview forms at the beginning of the high school baseball season, one school kept appearing towards the top – even with three-time league champion Bath and perennial league power Pewamo-Westphalia in the mix.
The league coaches all were in agreement. Potterville would have a big season.
The Vikings are living up to that billing, already having swept Bath and P-W on their way to first place.
After serving as an assistant for three seasons, Lance Beasley is in his first year as coach and inherited a baseball program with no junior varsity team and only 15 kids who came out for tryouts – a number that was “disappointing” and surprisingly low given the direction of the program, according to Beasley.
But there are four-year varsity seniors like Logan Pitcher and Andrew Wonch and juniors Sam Traver and Kolin Groom who are among mid-Michigan’s leaders statistically in terms of pitching.
Traver (4-0) has racked up 55 strikeouts in 28 innings while posting an earned run average of 0.50. Groom is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.00 in 21 innings and has 31 strikeouts.
“We grew up together. We grew up playing baseball together,” Traver said. “We kind of already know each other, and I kind of feel like it’s a stronger bond than a bigger school would have. We know each other personally. We don’t just see each other once a day. We work together all the time.”
In a pivotal doubleheader against Bath on April 17, the Vikings worked together to beat one of the area’s best pitchers and secure a huge conference sweep.
Bath senior pitcher Ryan Orr was one strike away from a perfect game and had a lead in the final inning, but Traver got a base hit to right field to break the string of outs.
Groom then followed with a 13-pitch at-bat and drove a pitch into the outfield gap to tie the game. Potterville would end up going ahead to win the first game 2-1 and also won the second game.
Bath coach Rob Orr coached both Traver, who pitched against Orr in the first game, and Groom on a summer team, which also featured his son.
“They’re both friends actually,” Beasley said of Traver and Orr. “I knew they were both looking forward to the matchup more than anyone. They both knew it was going to be a duel, and they knew it was going to come down to whoever could put one or two runs on the board in order to come away with a win in that one.”
Potterville’s sweep of P-W Monday moved them to 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the league.
“We as a team, we just wanted to become more like a family,” Traver said. “We wanted to work as a team instead of individuals, and we kind of wanted to put Potterville back on the map, win more games, work harder in practice and kind of put some pride into what we do.”