One of these days, it will feel like it’s actually baseball season.
When those days do come, Port Huron and Port Huron Northern will each be ready to roll this spring.
However, the two rivals will be entering the season differently. On the south end, Port Huron will be looking to replace six seniors. A little further north, the Huskies are heading into the season with 10 players returning from last year’s team.
Both teams do share preseason confidence, but that’s not a rarity in the competitive Macomb Area Conference Blue division. With these two teams poised for big seasons, this baseball slate will be another fun one in the area.
Big Reds look to keep striving
One of the best ways to grow as a team is to pair yourself against the top dogs, and that’s exactly what the Big Reds are doing.
Outside of MAC Blue play, Port Huron’s schedule is grueling. The Big Reds will be heading down to Cincinnati for a tournament in April, and they’ll also face Warren Cousino, Romeo, Chippewa Valley and Eisenhower.
“We are trying to show guys what good programs are like,” head coach Kyle Sheppard said. “This is what they do, this is how they warm up, what the atmosphere is like. We are trying to get our eyes open and playing tougher competition.”
This season will also be Sheppard’s second with the program, going 16-16 and finishing second in the MAC Blue last spring.
“This year flows more,” senior Dallas Mitchell said. “Last year he was kind of thrown in, but this year he has returning seniors … and we all practice as one team. A lot of the seniors help the freshmen.”
Northern returns plenty of talent
When you head to the ballpark, plenty of Huskies will look familiar.
Brett Manis, Nick Trimble and Isaac Raab are just three of the 10 returning varsity players from last year’s squad that went 13-18 overall, but they’ll all have big impacts.
“Returning 10 guys is a huge advantage, and a handful of guys not being senors, experience will be a big advantage,” Northern head coach Bob Kearns said. “And everybody is just working hard … I think we will have a strong team with all the tools we have.”
While the Huskies return plenty of talent, they will have to replace corner infielder Dallas Chicone and catcher Zach Koehn.
With the strong pitching the Huskies will have – led by Manis and Raab – Northern could give themselves a shot at their first conference title since winning the MAC Red in 2001.
“(The MAC Blue) is always a competitive league,” Kearns said. “Really it’s anyone’s game who shows the consistency and doesn’t give up outs. That’s what (reigning champion) Utica did well … but everybody is competitive across the board.”