Clawson junior Roy Spielbusch pitches during a matchup against Sterling Heights Parkway Christian April 13 at Clawson City Park.

Clawson junior Roy Spielbusch pitches during a matchup against Sterling Heights Parkway Christian April 13 at Clawson City Park.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Young and finding its footing, Clawson baseball looking to defend title

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Royal Oak Review | Published April 15, 2024

 Clawson senior Cole McCaffrey takes a swing.

Clawson senior Cole McCaffrey takes a swing.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


CLAWSON — Winning the league is a point of emphasis for each baseball coach, as is the usual saying of “getting 1% better each day.”

For Clawson baseball last season, the Macomb Area Conference Silver/Bronze was a safe haven for a team that dominated league opponents to the tune of an 18-0 record. Clawson won the league by a four-game margin.

Outside league play, the Trojans were 5-11 and were handed their third straight loss to Madison Heights Bishop Foley in the opening round of districts.

Clawson returns its veteran mainstays in seniors Hayden Stevens (P/SS) and Cole McCaffrey (P/1B/3B), who will undoubtedly be the leadership presence in the clubhouse just off their play alone.

“A lot of the young guys are still trying to get to speed with what varsity ball looks like, and having Hayden and Cole, who have been on varsity since they were freshmen, it’s helpful to have guys that have been on varsity as freshmen,” Clawson head coach Steve Haney said. “Sometimes they talk about their experiences of what they learned and what they went through as they were freshman and progressing to varsity as seniors.”

Commanding the top of the lineup last year, McCaffrey hit .425, while Stevens, who is leading off for the Trojans, hit .427 and posted an 8-2 record and a 2.97 ERA on the mound.

Stevens also commanded the huddle for the 7-3 Trojans football team, which won the MAC Bronze league title this year.

Holding a leadership position on the gridiron as a team captain, Stevens said it was a smooth transition mentoring the younger guys on the baseball team, the majority of whom play football for the Trojans.

“I’ve been carrying the leadership role for quite a while now coming from football, where I was a team captain as a junior and senior, so a lot of these guys know me well and I’ve built good connections with them through the offseason,” Stevens said. “I think half the battle is just knowing these kids, and when they make a mistake, I can just walk up to them and say, ‘Hey, you’re all good, kid.’ It helps them not feel so bad about themselves and focus on the next play in the field.”

Freshmen Elliott Groves (SS), Ezra Lock (2B/3B), Logan Fulks (2B/3B) and Graysen Carroll (OF) are the four first-year players gracing the Clawson roster, and they’re being thrown right into the fire. Sophomore Trent Stephan, who played on varsity last year, will also be in the infield mix this year.

Clawson doesn’t shy away from competition, as its non-league schedule already featured Royal Oak Shrine Catholic, Garden City, Warren Cousino (MAC Gold), Roseville (MAC Gold) and Sterling Heights Parkway Christian, and mistakes are bound to be made in matchups of that caliber.

Haney said the underclassmen’s growth will come with varsity innings under their belts, but he said he’s been impressed with what he’s seen so far.

“They get better all the time at practice, which is a lot of fun,” Haney said. “Sometimes, like in our game against Shrine a couple weeks ago, inexperience shows, but they continue to get better at practice. It’s very exciting, because they’re all strong ballplayers, so thinking about what they could be in the next few years is exciting for sure.”

The underclassmen will also be making a name for themselves in the rotation as Groves and sophomore Shane Dunlap, who is as good as anyone in the MAC behind the plate, will contribute innings to an already stacked rotation of Stevens, McCaffrey, junior Roy Spielbusch, and junior Jacob MacCallum.

Stevens possesses a wipeout slider to go along with a changeup he’s incorporated into his arsenal, while Groves and Spielbusch have already shown they have punchout-worthy stuff, collecting a combined 11 strikeouts in a 6-3 win over Warren Woods Tower April 5.

As strong as the rotation can be, McCaffrey said their bond is what sets Clawson’s array of arms apart.

“We’re all close friends who lift each other up if we aren’t doing the best,” McCaffrey said. “I think we work great off of each other, because we all have our own off-speeds and breaking balls that we throw.”

The bats should be steady for the Trojans with Dunlap, who hit .463 last year, Stevens, and McCaffrey leading the way, while Haney expects junior Nick Therrien to improve off last season’s success.

Therrien will hit cleanup for the Trojans and specialized in coming through when the team needed him most in 2023.

“He (Therrien) had a knack for having some big hits,” Haney said. “He had a few walk-off RBI singles in the seventh inning last year, so we’re hoping his batting continues to improve and he has some big hits for us like he did last year.”

Currently 2-6 on the year and 1-0 in league play, Clawson will look to successfully defend its reputation as the top team in the Silver/Bronze, and it has all the pieces to do it.

“I don’t think there’s a kid on this team that can’t make an impact in the field or when they are in the box, and they’ll only get better as the season progresses,” Stevens said.