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Lathrup Village

May 29, 2013

Lathrup baseball claims fourth OAA Gold title in last seven seasons

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Lathrup’s Eric Langford said winning the OAA Gold is a “great feeling.” The team has won four division titles in seven years.

LATHRUP VILLAGE — His confidence never wavered, even after an ugly loss on a rainy, cold April 3 afternoon.

Darren Mosley stood outside his team’s dugout at Bishop Foley following a 16-0 defeat, and he refused to question the how, what and why of the loss. Instead, he turned his attention to what could be.

“This is going to be a good team,” he said then. “We just need some time.”

Standing near the infield on a windy, warm May afternoon, Mosley’s assessment of his team was realized.

Nearly two full months after the Lathrup Village Southfield-Lathrup baseball team took its lumps to start the 2013 season, the Chargers are officially division champs — again.

“The No. 1 goal at the start of every season is to win the league,” Mosley said. “That’s where we’ve set the bar.”

For the fourth time in seven years, mission accomplished.

“It’s a big deal for us and for the program,” said Johnny Slater, the team’s top pitcher who’s headed to the University of Michigan next year. “We played well. We were focused. and it paid off.”

After a 2-4 record to start the season, Lathrup got better as the season wore on.

When league play began, the Chargers took their game to a new level.

By the time the schedule was complete, they were 9-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Gold Division.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t,” Mosley said. “So the way we approached it, was looking at some of the teams that could contend for the title, like Southfield and Ferndale and Pontiac, and at very worst, earn splits in those doubleheaders.”

Lathrup promptly swept Southfield and Ferndale.

The lone blemish on the division record came to Pontiac High.

“It’s a great feeling to be a league champ,” said junior shortstop Eric Langford. “It’s something we knew we could do. We just worked so hard to get it done.”

The Chargers’ most recent title came in 2011, but Mosley said the differences in teams from then and now couldn’t me more, well, different.

“That was a year where we could, and did, out-hit our errors,” the skipper said. “This team couldn’t do that. We had to really focus on defense and pitching because we weren’t a high-powered team.”

Slater (5-0) anchored the staff, but was hardly the lone arm shouldering the load.

“We use everyone. We had 12 different guys pitch this season,” Mosley said. “It was a complete team effort to pull this off.”

As the year got longer, the team got better.

And everyone contributed.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum and confidence right now,” Slater said with a smile.

Lathrup (17-11) opens the Division 1 Beverly Hills Groves district at noon, June 1 against Birmingham Seaholm.

The other side of the bracket includes Brother Rice, Groves and West Bloomfield High.

“We’re going to play the same way we have all season,” Mosley said. “Johnny will start against Seaholm, and then if we get to the final, we’ll pitch by committee and see what happens. It’s a strong district, obviously, when you consider the teams like Brother Rice. But on any day, in one game, any team can be beat. We’ll have a chance.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.