Madison baseball looks to re-establish tradition

By: Mark Vest | Madison - Park News | Published April 15, 2013

Following a winless 2012 season, Madison Heights Madison’s baseball coach Bill Pittman is hoping that he, along with assistant coach’s Scotty LaBrash and George Barndollar, as well as JV coach Matt Fecht, can help restore what he considers a strong baseball tradition at the high school.

Pittman, who is back on the bench after taking last year off, has a good place to start, as he stated that Dan Miller, last season’s coach, taught the players sound fundamentals.

“That is the main reason I returned to coach,” Pittman said of trying to re-establish the tradition of the baseball program. “Besides that, I enjoy the game and the challenge of turning it around. We (want to) turn it back around and get us back where we used to be.”

A “feeder program” may be the best way to accomplish that. After being dormant in recent years, Wilkinson Middle School, which is being coached by Matt Karaffa, is in its third season of fielding a baseball team.

Madison will be taking to the field with some players who had no experience playing organized baseball until this season, according to Pittman. In fact, he said some players had to be taught how to catch the ball.

Having players gain experience and knowledge at the middle school level is something Pittman thinks could help Madison’s program.

“Hopefully, that will help build the program in the future,” he said. “(Hopefully), they continue to have enough kids interested in playing baseball and learning baseball to get us experienced players at the high school. It’s proven to be very important. Bishop Foley has won the state championship the last two years. That’s the best feeder program example you can have.”

As for the season in front of them, Pittman is hoping that, by the time the postseason rolls around, the Eagles will have gained enough experience and made enough adjustments to have a chance to be competitive in district play.  

“Hopefully, we’re in it for a division title, but more importantly, is a district title,” he said. “We have so many players right now that have never played baseball. Just the experience of being in a game, hopefully, is enough to get us, at least, to where we’re a little more respectable by the end of the year.”