Lake Shore baseball team hoping to recapture past glory
ST. CLAIR SHORES — The St. Clair Shores Lake Shore High baseball team is already close to meeting and surpassing its 2012 win total, when the Shorians notched seven wins in 27 outings.
At press time, Lake Shore was 5-3 overall and 0-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division.
Lake Shore coach Ryan Kottke, in his second year with the program, said experience and mental focus have played the biggest role in the Shorians’ solid start.
“The weather hasn’t been the greatest this spring, but we were able to get outside six or seven times before we played our first game,” Kottke said. “The cold and wet conditions did not stop us from getting our work done outside. We came out, handled the elements and took care of business.”
Kottke said pitching has stood out early on, after being a concern at the start of the season. He said the hurlers have been attacking the strike zone with fastballs and working in off-speed pitches more as the team gets deeper into the season and arms round into form.
“We know we have depth, but our question as a coaching staff was who was going to step up and want the ball in big games,” Kottke said. “We’ve had those questions answered, and our pitching has been fantastic.”
Senior captains Matt Chambers, Troy Mazmanian and Cody Cummins, who all pitch and play infield positions, are expected to lead the way.
Kottke said he did not name captains last season.
In order for Lake Shore to sustain its early success, Kottke said Shorians hitters must cut down on the strikeouts. He added his players need to learn to use the entire field when hitting.
“Too many guys in our lineup, and in high school baseball in general, think opposite field hitting is not important,” Kottke said. “When a pitcher is not giving you that inside pitch to pull, we can’t be stubborn and try to pull that pitch.”
The coach said he’s up to the task of helping the program get back on top. The team struggled in 2011 and 2012 after running off five straight league titles from 2006 to 2010. He said last year’s group was a young one, adding the Shorians return 11 of 13 players. The Lake Shore roster consists of six seniors and seven juniors.
“The players have to believe in what they can do on the field and be accountable for their actions,” Kottke said. “They have to understand that team success translates to individual success — not the other way around.
“Lake Shore has a very good tradition of baseball success, and this year’s team is on the right path to bring that back. Battle Creek is where we want to be when the season ends.”
In order to accomplish that, the Shorians will have to navigate their way through what Kottke calls a very competitive MAC Blue. He said he knows each of the teams in the Blue, which St. Clair High has won every year since 2009, and that they are well-coached and ready to go each time they step on the diamond.
“We’ve seen a lot of good pitchers early, so we should be ready to compete for the title,” Kottke said.
Lake Shore next hits the field for a matchup against Marysville High at 4:30 p.m. April 24 at Kyte Monroe Park in St. Clair Shores.