Loaded with youth and talent, Lakers take higher aim this spring
He’s still not exactly over it.
It was less than a year ago that Eric Pierce had his West Bloomfield High baseball team just a few outs from eliminating Birmingham Brother Rice in a Division 1 district semifinal.
Heartbreak would play out, though, as Brother Rice mounted a comeback, stranded West Bloomfield would-be winning runners in scoring position, and then ousted the Lakers in nine innings.
Following last season’s game, Pierce talked about the success of the season, but was more interested in looking toward a future he couldn’t help but be anxious about.
This spring, the future has arrived, even if it is loaded with youth.
“We only brought four guys back, but we expect bigger and better things,” Pierce said. “We’re very young, but we’re not going to play like it. We are going to field the ball. We’re going to hit, and we’ve got some great arms to rely on.”
The Lakers roster has three seniors and just as many sophomores playing in essential roles.
“We feel like we can be an elite team,” sophomore pitcher Chandler Sedat said. “Age really doesn’t matter to us. Once you’re on the team, you’re a varsity baseball player.”
Confidence certainly isn’t lacking, and Sedat has a lot to do with that.
“Basically, he’s a guy with a very bright future,” Pierce said. “He can reach the 80s with his fastball, has great control of his off-speed (pitch) and is going to anchor our rotation.”
During an April 15 game at Farmington High, Sedat improved to 2-0 overall.
He pitched a complete game, allowing just three hits and one walk, while retiring 13 consecutive batters at one point.
Meanwhile, the offense scratched across six runs and cruised to a 6-0 victory.
“It’s pretty cool to see all these guys come together and figure everything out,” junior shortstop Josh Birnberg said, now in his third year starting on varsity. “We’ve got a few veteran guys to lead the way, but this is going to be a good team.”
Weather has greatly hampered West Bloomfield’s schedule so far, but the team was 2-0 at press time.
After a 16-16 finish last year, the goal is to improve and drastically.
The Lakers were 7-8 in the Oakland Activities Association White Division.
“The goal is to win the league every year, and we’re long overdue,” Pierce said. “I see us being in the mix this year, without a doubt.”
West Bloomfield hasn’t won a league title since 1999.
“That’s huge for us, a big goal,” Birnberg said. “It’s about time we bring it back to this school.”
With so many guys in their first year on varsity, and with such little high school experience, Pierce was asked whether or not he anticipates some “young moments” to appear as the season plays out.
“No, not really,” he said. “These guys have played some great travel baseball all summer. It’s a young team that doesn’t appear to be young. I mean, we have plenty of room for improvement, but we’re going to be a team to contend with.”