Clintondale baseball focusing on continuous improvement

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published April 10, 2015

 Clintondale baseball coach Rob Townsend said this year’s team is the deepest the program has fielded in some time. Townsend is pictured talking with his players during an April 1 game against Center Line.

Clintondale baseball coach Rob Townsend said this year’s team is the deepest the program has fielded in some time. Townsend is pictured talking with his players during an April 1 game against Center Line.

Photo by Sean Work

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Players on the Clinton Township Clintondale baseball team believe this year’s group is further along than a 2014 team that featured just one senior and several first-year varsity players.

“I just feel like we’re better conditioned and we’re playing really hard,” Dragons senior pitcher/infielder Chris Williams said.

Clintondale coach Rob Townsend, whose team sat at 1-1 at press time, said bringing back several experienced players helps with the feeling-out process. All but two players from the 2014 team returned. Clintondale went 7-16, 5-7 Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division, last season, winning two more games than it did in 2013.

“We’ve got a pretty deep roster with a lot of returning players and some good JV call-ups,” Townsend said. “They know what to do out on the field with the position calls and other things. It’s a good group of players.”

Townsend said the team’s maturity has shown early on. Clintondale downed Birmingham Roeper 18-5 in a March 30 season opener and didn’t get too excited when it was in the midst of some big offensive innings, Townsend said.

The Clintondale coach, who tabbed Williams, senior pitcher/infielder Matt Frey and junior pitcher/shortstop Jerryl Thompson as team leaders, believes depth will be the strength of the team. He said the team is full of starters and backups who can get the job done if called upon.

“I’m impressed with our depth at all positions,” Townsend said. “We’ve got the deepest pitching staff we’ve had in years. We’ve got two solid catchers, five kids who could start in the outfield, two strong first basemen and (several) infielders who could start.”

Senior outfielder Michael Van Daele said he sees continuity as key and that the focus will be on improving every day.

“And the wins will come with that,” Van Daele said.

Townsend said base running is an area Clintondale will work to improve on over the course of the season because he wants the team to be aggressive on the base paths, using its speed to move runners around the bases and manufacture runs.

The Dragons are scheduled to take on Warren Lincoln at 4:30 p.m. April 15 at Lincoln in the second game of a three-game Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division set.

Clintondale finished third in the Bronze last season and is after its first league title since 2009.

Townsend said New Haven, which has won the last two MAC Bronze titles, always has lots of talent and that St. Clair Shores South Lake is always a contender. He then put the focus back on his team and its chase for a league title.

“It’s tough to scout teams when you don’t know who may be hurt. I just worry about us being as good as we can and making the fewest mistakes we can,” Townsend said. “That’s who usually wins. If that happens and we’re the most talented team, we’re going to win.”

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