Macomb Dakota’s Layne Malczewski celebrates after tagging out a runner at home in a contest this past season. Malczewski batted .463 in MAC Red play this year and was named the leage MVP.

Macomb Dakota’s Layne Malczewski celebrates after tagging out a runner at home in a contest this past season. Malczewski batted .463 in MAC Red play this year and was named the leage MVP.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Cougars catcher caps off career with conference MVP

By: Timothy Pontzer | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 11, 2018


MACOMB — Since the age of 10, Layne Malczewski has been a fixture in the Macomb Dakota dugout.

With his father, Matt, serving as the pitching coach, Malczewski grew up in the baseball program hoping one day to star for the Cougars.

Over the past three seasons, those dreams became a reality for Malczewski as he backstopped the club to the second Division 1 regional title in school history. 

In his final prep campaign, the catcher helped Dakota finish at 29-9 overall, while posting a 10-5 mark in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division. The Cougars captured the conference crown and Malczewski was named MVP of the Red.

“The best part was being able to play alongside with my father for three years,” Malczewski said. “It was such a great feeling to be named MVP of the MAC Red, especially knowing how many great players there are in our league. It made me want to push myself and my team harder to make it as far as possible in the state tournament.”

Malczewski played a large part in Dakota’s postseason push. The three-year varsity member delivered a two-out, bases-loaded single in the sixth inning of the regional title game. It proved to be the decisive moment in a 2-1 victory over Warren De La Salle June 9.

Malczewski batted .373 overall with a .463 average in Red contests. From behind the plate, he was 19 of 22 throwing out potential base stealers.

“One of the best leaders I’ve ever coached. Our seniors led our team all season, and (Layne) played a big part in that,” Dakota baseball coach Matt Carley said. “Layne seemed to always be able to pick us up or erase a mistake. He shut down the other team’s running game. He understands the game and was always a great team player.”

Carley also pointed to Malczewski being named County Player of the Year in baseball by local coaches. It mirrored Malczewski’s similar feat on the mat.

“We’ve never had a kid named county wrestler and county baseball player in the same year,” Carley explained. “He was also a Second Team All-State catcher. He’s a very, very impressive talent.”

Malczewski put together a historic effort in wrestling, going 55-0 as a senior. For his career, Malczewski was 225-23. It marked the most wins in Dakota history while also setting the program record for pins in a season (44). Only three matches went the distance all year and he was not taken down once during the campaign.

After helping lead the wrestling team to a D-1 state semifinal appearance, Malczewski captured the individual championship at 171 pounds. Along with sophomore Brock Prater (103 pounds), it was the first wrestling state titles ever brought back to Dakota.

“I believe this is a great way to end my high school sports career, because I was super happy with how I did in wrestling,” Malczewski said. “After the season, I wasn’t sure if I was going to play baseball. So to go out and perform as well as I did this year makes me unbelievably happy.”

Committed to continue his grappling career at Michigan State, Malczewski said his skills on the mat directly translated to the diamond.

“My wrestling background helped me so much throughout my career, especially at the catcher position,” Malczewski said. “It helped me keep a really good, low stance. It also helped me with balance and movement when blocking balls in the dirt. It also helped me stay mentally tough whenever I wasn’t doing well.”

Malczewski praised Carley and Dakota wrestling coach Ed Skowneski for aiding in his development.

“I can’t thank coach Carley and coach Ed enough for pushing me to be the best player I could be and showing me how to be a true leader,” Malczewski remarked. “I will miss those two most of all.”

Malczewski called graduating a bittersweet experience, especially after a whirlwind senior campaign.

“It’s actually super hard to say goodbye to the Dakota athletics community, because I have received so much love and support from so many people,” Malczewski said. “Everyone has treated me so well, and without this community around me, I wouldn’t be the same kid I am today.”