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Sterling Heights

May 16, 2014

Utica Ford II baseball coach says arms are reason for team’s turnaround

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
After finishing in last place in 2013, the Utica Ford II baseball team is in a chase for the MAC White title with defending champion St. Clair High. Pictured is Falcons senior pitcher/infielder Jordan Luzod during an early season game against Clinton Township Chippewa Valley.

STERLING HEIGHTS — The Utica Ford II baseball team finished at the bottom of the Macomb Area Conference White Division last season.

A lot has changed in a year.

At press time, the Falcons were alive and well in the race for a MAC White title. Ford II (10-9, 7-4 MAC White) was tied with defending champion St. Clair High for first place in the division with a week left in the regular season.

Falcons coach Derek Ganfield said pitching is the reason for the turnaround.

“So we need to maintain that,” Ganfield said.

The Ford II coach touted the performance of a group of veteran hurlers — seniors Ja’Won Vaughn and Jordan Luzod, and sophomores Pierce Banks and Kevin Large. Those four players have logged the majority of the innings, and Ganfield said they’ve all been consistent and very good on the mound.

While the team is in line for its first division title in more than a decade, the postseason is also on the horizon. The state playoffs begin May 27. Ganfield said players have suffered injuries recently, and he is hoping to have the full compliment of players by the start of the postseason.

“Getting everyone to contribute at or above their expectations is always key to success.”

Ford II opens the postseason with a matchup against Sterling Heights Stevenson at 4 p.m. May 27 at Stevenson. The winner takes on Fraser High at 10 a.m. May 31. The district final takes place at 2 p.m. May 31. Other teams in the district are Clinton Township Chippewa Valley and Sterling Heights High.

“Our district is always tough,  due to the quality of its athletes and coaches,” Ganfield said. “We were able to win a close, hard-fought game against Chippewa Valley in the (2014 Macomb County Spring Break Baseball Tournament), but they knocked us out of the state tournament in a 1-0 game last year, so we know quite a bit about one another.

“Although we didn’t schedule or play Fraser, Sterling Heights High or Stevenson this year, we know what to expect from each of those teams.”

Ford II next hits the diamond for a matchup against Utica Eisenhower, set for 4 p.m. May 21 at Eisenhower.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.