Blue Water Area 2023 baseball season preview
While a few area baseball teams have already sprung into action, the rest will be joining in this week.
Last year was a historic season for Algonac as it won the program's first regional title to lead the area, and Richmond remained the top team in the BWAC with another league title. The Blue Devils and Croswell-Lexington Pioneers each won a district title, and Marine City was the area's other title-winning team in the MAC-Gold.
Let's see who's returning to this year's rosters and what the area coaches have to say:
2022 season: 29-12, 9-5 BWAC (T-2nd), District and Regional champions.
Coach: Scott Thaler, entering his seventh season.
Key returners: Josh Kasner, Matt Meldrum, Tyler Schultz and Evan Saddler; New additions: Brandon Williams and Caleb Thomas.
Losses to graduation: We lost eight seniors, three of which – Jack Cote, Jacob Kasner, and Seth Lonergan – had college offers. We will miss those guys on the field and the leadership of the others.
Coach's Comment: Excited to see the team compete on the field and how they handle the high expectations.
First game: March 22 at Marine City (4-0W)
2022 season: 4-17, 3-11 BWAC (7th)
Coach: Shane Campbell, entering his sixth season.
Key returners: Tyler Filinger, Matt Redmond, Kody Koval, and Trenton Kruse.
Losses to graduation: Brandon Hunsaker.
Coach's Comment: After a challenging season in 2022, we are senior heavy this year and I'm optimistic about the season.
First game: April 4 at Everest Collegiate
2022 season: 12-12, 8-6 BWAC (5th)
Coach: Dave Checkley, entering his first season.
Key returners: We have a very talented group of seniors that I'm excited to see lead this team.
Losses to graduation: Wyatt Waskin
Coach's Comment: The Armada players have worked hard in the offseason. The BWAC is a competitive conference with some very good teams and players. This season is going to be fun for sure.
First game: April 7 at Lamphere
2022 season: 16-10, 6-8 BWAC (6th), District champions.
Coach: Bryce Davis, entering his third season.
Key returners: Belly Groppi, Benito Mendoza, Braylon Collins, James Gumtow, Drew Hosterman, Nick Monzo, Nolan Moore, Connor Partlo, and Jett Weeder.
Losses to graduation: Adam Barbarich, Tony Groppi, Ian Katulski, and Jake Townsend.
First game: April 3 at Caro
2022 season: 1-21, 0-14 BWAC (8th)
Coach: Chaz Hill, entering his sixth season.
Key returners: Beau Hund, Hunter Hill, Brendan Monville, Tyler Pries, and Dylan Trout.
Losses to graduation: Kevin Alvarado, Tyler Delong, Aaron Evely, Scott McAvoy, Benjamin Muehleisen, and Xander Nolin.
First game: April 7 v. Goodrich
2022 season: 16-11, 8-2 MAC-Gold (1st).
Coach: Daryn Letson, entering his 20th season.
Key returners: Zach Tetler, Cooper Letson, Parker Atkinson, Jeff Heaslip, and Josh VandeVyver; New additions: Paul Muscat, Danny VandeVyver, and Kyle Rickert.
Losses to graduation: Wyatt Walker and Nolan Distelrath.
Coach's Comment: We should be competitive in our conference and we will just see how ready we can be come end of May, beginning of June.
First game: March 22 v. Algonac (4-0L)
2022 season: 5-22, 2-11 MAC-Blue (6th)
Coach: Caleb Dalman, entering his seventh season.
Key returners: Trent Vagi and Tommy Hadacz.
Losses to graduation: John Hurtubise and Cole Bowman.
Coach's Comment: We have solid mix of age and youth on this team which should give us a different look. We've added some different pieces that bring new tools that we are excited to use and hoping we can stay healthy to compete for a league and district title.
First game: April 5 at Grosse Pointe South
2022 season: 16-11, 9-5 BWAC (T-2nd)
Coach: Joseph Mitchell, entering his first season.
Key returners: Seniors Landen Swoish, Aiden Swoish, Brant Primeau, and Mason Haken. We're also returning five juniors and one sophomore.
Losses to graduation: Ray Strzynski, Caden June, and Antonio Soto.
Coach's Comment: We have an experienced team that is looking forward to competing in a strong BWAC conference this year.
First game: April 4 at Oxford
Port Huron High
2022 season: 3-17, 3-10 MAC-Blue (5th)
Coach: Kevin Goulding, entering his first season.
Key returners: Kolton Barnett, Clayton Thompson, Gavin DeLong, Peyton Mullins, Amauri Haller, Griffin Hansel, Conner Rosenau, Gavin Troy, and Isaiah Hernandez.
Losses to graduation: Kade Hansel, Eric Whiting, and Brayden Albers.
Coach's Comment: We are returning 10 players from last year's team so are expectations are high. We expect to compete and play hard on a nightly basis.
First game: April 4 at Yale
Port Huron Northern
2022 season: 10-12, 10-5 MAC-Blue (2nd)
Coach: Anthony Bloink, entering his first season.
Key returners: Dylan Bloink, Alex Armstrong, Jacob Kerrigan, and Ryan Forlastro.
Losses to graduation: Owen Johnson, Derek Ruiz, and Colin Presnar.
Coach's Comment: We are pretty happy with our pitching staff at this time as Dylan Bloink and Ryan Forlastro are both three-year starters with good pitching experience. Our seniors need to step up and lead the team that contended for a league championship last year. We will be young as we may start four or five sophomores, but they all had varsity experience last year and play high level of travel ball. Lastly, staying healthy will be important as we will only have 13 or 14 kids on the roster and that was an issue in the past.
First game: April 5 v. Cros-Lex
2022 season: 27-7, 12-2 BWAC (1st), District champions.
Coach: Scott Evans, entering his 12th season.
Key returners: Trey Taylor, Brice Wesley, Jackson Jones, Skylar Louwers, and Grant VanSlambrouck.
Losses to graduation: Bennett Hitzelberger, Joey Parinello, Hudson Davenport, Denny Salagan, and Ryan Nettles.
Coach's Comment: Algonac is loaded and should be team to beat. We have a lot of new faces with a ton of experience to get. We will be as good as our seniors lead us.
First game: March 24 at Avondale (8-6W)
2022 season: 19-12, 8-7 MAC-White (3rd)
Coach: Nick Black, entering his second season.
Key returners: Logan Ellis (CF) and Joey Turner (P).
Losses to graduation: Jacob Turner, Brenden Cole, Carter Hurlburt, Cam Bleasdale, Jared Kramp, Luke Ellis, Chris Peiprzak, and Eli Lohr.
Coach's Comment: We will be young, but look to grow and develop and compete.
First game: April 4 v. Divine Child
2022 season: 16-10, 9-5 BWAC (T-2nd).
Coach: Brian Fowler, entering his 18th season.
Key returners: Aidan Korolden, James Bahr, and Connor Jakubiak.
Losses to graduation: We graduated a veteran pitching staff and a four-year varsity catcher
Coach's Comment: We’re a very young team that will have some tough times but will shine as they get better.
First game: April 4 v. Port Huron