ROSEVILLE — After finishing last in its division each of the past two years, the Roseville High baseball team has had a bounceback year.
The Panthers (9-4, 7-3 MAC Silver at press time) are in line to finish no worse than second in league play. Those nine wins eclipse Roseville’s win total in 2011 and 2012 combined.
“Our kids put in a lot of work in the offseason and in the winter months,” said Panthers coach Keith Marzec, in his 12th year with the program. “We’ve got a good group of kids who work hard, and I think we’re in a division where we have a chance to be competitive.”
Roseville had a shot at winning its first league title since 2010 but split a home-and-home series with MAC Silver foe Clawson in games played May 13 and May15. The Trojans clinched the division title by winning the opener.
This season marks just the second that the Panthers will finish above .500 since 2003.
“I think things are going a lot better for us this year because we have guys who want to be here,” said senior pitcher Darnell Wilson, who along with senior first baseman Tyler Vanderblucht, led Roseville, according to Marzec.
“The guys want to play. They want to compete and they want to win.”
Pitching and defense has keyed the turnaround, Marzec said. The Panthers have been involved in a number of one-run games, and key plays by the defense have led to wins, he said.
“I know we can wake up the bats,” Wilson said. “Defense is a big part of our game that we’re tightening up. I have faith in our defense.”
That defense will be huge for the Panthers, come the 2013 Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state playoffs. Roseville begins the postseason with a D-1 district semifinal matchup with Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse, set for 10 a.m. June 1 at Warren Woods Tower.
“Last year, we lost 4-2 to L’Anse Creuse (in the district round). We gave them two unearned runs in the first inning and played them 2-2 the rest of the way. In the state tournament, you can’t give teams extra outs and free runs.”
Marzec and Wilson were disappointed about not locking up a league title, but the Panthers’ coach is aware there are other titles up for grabs.
“We talked about (not winning the MAC Silver). That’s just one door closed,” Marzec said. “We have a bigger door to walk through. We still have our eyes set on winning a district championship.”