Athens and Dakota grads showcase talent at next level

By: Timothy Pontzer | Troy Times | Published April 25, 2017

TROY — A pair of prep standouts from the C & G coverage area have joined forces at Albion College.

Patrolling the infield, junior Logan Priebe and freshman James Spilko have made a big impact for the Britons this season. 

Priebe graduated from Troy Athens in 2014, and Spilko walked across the Macomb Dakota stage last spring.

“James has done a great job all season. It is never easy to step into a starting role as a freshman, but he competes well and has done a nice job of making adjustments throughout the season,” said Albion coach Scott Carden. “Logan is a great team guy. He has worked extremely hard over the past three years and has improved in many ways, especially offensively.”

Priebe has appeared in 15 contests this season for the Brits, hitting .360 with seven RBIs and four walks.

“Logan has really embraced what we’ve taught and has the ability to really drive the ball,” Carden said. “He is always on attack mode when he is at the plate, and he loves to compete in the batter’s box.”

Spending three years on varsity with the Red Hawks, Priebe was a two-time All-League player, helping lead the club to an Oakland Activities Association Blue Division title his senior season. He credits his tenure at Athens with his current success with the bat.

“At Athens, the biggest thing I learned was the correct mental approach at the plate,” Priebe said. “I understood what kind of approach is the best for you. Working on swinging early in the count and being aggressive on fastballs. Learning what works when you’re ahead or behind in the count, and that has really helped me to be successful at this level.”

During his collegiate sophomore campaign, Priebe tallied a .311 average. In the field, he has established himself at third base for the Brits, a big change from playing mostly outfield and second base for the Red Hawks.

“It has been a little bit of an adjustment,” Priebe said. “Third base has a harder pace; there is less time to get around the ball and work through it. It was hard at the beginning, and I’m still working on the technique. But again, my time at Athens helped (me) to know what to do in different situations and scenarios out on the field.”

Spilko is one of five players to have appeared in every game this season for the Britons. Sporting a .298 batting average, he has collected 15 RBIs, stolen five bases and is fourth on the team with 22 runs scored.

“James has been a tough out and is a contact-type guy for us,” said Carden, now in his 14th year at the helm. “We can always count on him to put the ball in play.”

Albion’s everyday second baseman, Spilko hit .389 his senior year with the Cougars, serving as a pitcher and infielder while garnering All-District accolades.

“The competition and coaching I’ve had throughout my childhood and high school ultimately provided me with the knowledge and skills that I’ve been able to transfer to college baseball,” Spilko said. 

Spilko starred on the diamond, gridiron and hardwood at Dakota, and he credits the trio of pursuits as a good springboard to now. He also praised his alma mater for helping to prepare him to be an NCAA student-athlete, proudly stating that he made the dean’s list this year.

“The courses I took gave me a good foundation on how to write papers and study for big exams now,” said Spilko. “Being a three-sport athlete, I was able to obtain time management skills that I have carried over to college. Unlike high school, this is a lot more work and time consuming. So you have to find time to both better yourself in the classroom and the field.”

Both infielders hope to help lead the club to a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title and a trip to the Division 3 World Series. After that, both plan on serving internships, with Spilko working through Quicken Loans and Priebe at United Shore Mortgage.

“Baseball plays a big role with how you interact with a team and working to reach an end goal,” said Priebe, who is a finance major. “Being accountable for doing your job to help the team and accomplish what everyone wants in the long run translates to more than just this game — it can help in the rest of life as well.”