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Cook, Pilots not fazed by early record, maintain lofty goals for 2012

By: Mike Moore | Warren Weekly | Published April 23, 2012

 Senior Nick Ciaramitaro is pictured against Divine Child April 18. De La Salle coach Matt Cook said his team will be much better in late May than it is now.

Senior Nick Ciaramitaro is pictured against Divine Child April 18. De La Salle coach Matt Cook said his team will be much better in late May than it is now.

Photo by Mike Moore

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DEARBORN — With a team this young, playing a schedule this intense, early season results must be taken with a grain of salt.

That’s the message Warren De La Salle baseball coach Matt Cook had last week while speaking of his squad and the road it’s traveled so far.

Though they are the defending Catholic League champs, the Pilots start as many as five sophomores at times.

Despite their youth, Cook fully expects to be back in the league’s playoffs and contend for a chance to play at Comerica again, but getting to that point is going to take some time.

“There’s a maturation process we need to go through with these guys,” Cook explained. “I’m very confident this is a good baseball team. We’re still in the process of figuring it all out.”

Cook spoke just prior to his team’s April 18 doubleheader at Dearborn Divine Child, another powerhouse team on the Pilots’ schedule.

Following a pair of losses, De La Salle was 2-10-1 overall and 0-6 in Catholic League play.

At first glance, there’d be reason for concern.

“But I’d contend our schedule is right up there with some of the toughest in the state … we’ve really had a chance to win just about every game we’ve played,” Cook said.

To his point, seven of the Pilots’ 10 losses have come by three runs or less, and four were one-run losses.

“Playing a schedule like we do gets you ready for what you know is coming late in the season, and especially in the playoffs,” senior Mike Abiragi said. “Losing like we have can get to you if you let it, but we understand what’s going on here. We enjoy playing the teams we do.”

Of course, the Pilots do have some experience to fall back on when it comes to slow starts.

The 2011 squad lost eight of its first 10 games before finding its stride, narrowly making it into the Catholic League playoffs only to capture the league’s championship with an upset of Birmingham Brother Rice in the semifinals and Novi Detroit Catholic Central in the final.

Record aside, the goal is to duplicate that exact feat this spring.

“We haven’t even talked much about last year, because that’s always an expectation for this program,” senior Kevin Carroll said. “We know how last year started, but we also know how it finished. This is a good team, and if we keep at it, we’re going to be all right.”

Cook admitted he’s still figuring his lineup out, trying certain guys at different positions in one game and then moving them somewhere else in the next.

He also knows there’s a ton of work to be done before people outside the program view his squad as a legitimate threat in the Catholic League.

Most importantly, though, he’s adamant that day will come.

“I’m very confident in this group,” he said. “The focus can’t be so much on what we’re doing in April, but how we’re playing in May, when it really matters. This is a good group, and I’m willing to bet the team you see at the end of the year is going to be much better than the team we’re working with right now

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