Dakota baseball team ready for deep postseason run

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published April 11, 2012

 Junior pitcher Travis Perkola is one of a number of players on the Macomb Dakota baseball team coach Matt Carley will look to in leading the team. The Cougars return nine players from a 2011 team that advanced to regionals.

Junior pitcher Travis Perkola is one of a number of players on the Macomb Dakota baseball team coach Matt Carley will look to in leading the team. The Cougars return nine players from a 2011 team that advanced to regionals.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — After the Cougars made it to the regional round of the 2011 state playoffs, Macomb Dakota second-year baseball coach Matt Carley has his sights set on a deep playoff run in 2012.

“I can’t say I wouldn’t be disappointed if we didn’t get back there,” Carley said of his team, which went 19-12, 4-6 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division. Of the 18 players on the current roster, nine were a part of last year’s regional qualifier.

“Last year, when we made that run, we had some inexperienced players and some experienced guys. This team is a year older and a year better.”

Carley said playing a disciplined game each time out will be key if Dakota is to build on last year’s success. After the loss of some key seniors from last season’s team, players stepping into leadership roles will be vital, too, he said.

“We have some senior leaders on the team. It’ll be important for us to not mess around and just do our jobs,” senior catcher Jared Schultz said.

The Cougars made their deep playoff run despite finishing fourth in the tough MAC Red Division last season.

Playing in that league, Carley said, helped prepare the Cougars for the competition they faced in the playoffs. He said he expects the league, which had four squads advance to at least the regional semis in 2011, to continue to be a dogfight.

“It’s the MAC Red; it’s one of the toughest leagues in the state,” senior shortstop Blake Buckner said. “It definitely prepares you for the playoffs because it seems like all the teams in our league are good.

“When you face good pitchers and hitters every time you step on the field, you can’t help but get better.”

Those good teams include Grosse Pointe South, Eisenhower and Utica Stevenson — all of which joined Dakota in the regional semifinals in 2011. Stevenson advanced to the state semifinal round before bowing out.

“This league is really tough, but I think we have the talent to compete,” Carley said.

Those talented players on the Cougars roster include senior center fielder Ian Hathaway, junior hurler Travis Perkola, senior outfielder Anthony Napoli, Schultz and Buckner.

“We’ll face some brutally tough competition all year long,” Carley said, “but I think we have the guys in place to do some good things this season. I’d be let down if we didn’t, but I think we will.”

Dakota next hits the field for a home game against L’Anse Creuse at 10 a.m. April 14.

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