Ferndale High’s Kelvin Lileton takes a swing against Berkley High April 9. Ferndale coach Chris Bailey said “anything short” of a district title is not a successful season.

Ferndale High’s Kelvin Lileton takes a swing against Berkley High April 9. Ferndale coach Chris Bailey said “anything short” of a district title is not a successful season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Ferndale High baseball doesn’t want to settle for anything less than a title

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published April 17, 2019

 Ferndale High baseball players gather near the mound during a recent game against Berkley High. In three of the last four years, Ferndale’s season has ended with a loss in a Division 2 district final.

Ferndale High baseball players gather near the mound during a recent game against Berkley High. In three of the last four years, Ferndale’s season has ended with a loss in a Division 2 district final.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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FERNDALE — For three of the last four years, Ferndale High’s baseball season has ended the same way: with a loss in a Division 2 district final.

Last year, the Eagles lost what coach Chris Bailey said was a heartbreaker for the team, when their season concluded with a 3-0 loss to Livonia Clarenceville.

Bailey doesn’t intend for there to be any broken hearts after this year’s district tournament.

As tough as those previous district final losses were, if things go the way he expects they can, this year could involve at least one postseason celebration.

“It’d make the last five years well worth it,” Bailey said. “We’ve been there at the doorstep. … We’re in a favorable district this year that I think is winnable for us. … I think it’s (going to) happen this year.”

The district playoffs are set to begin May 28. The other teams in Ferndale’s district are Hazel Park High, Warren Fitzgerald and tournament host Warren Lincoln.

Aside from staying healthy, Bailey said there is no other goal for the season than to win that district, and he is not alone in his aspiration.

“I’m pretty sure that they’re hungry for it,” Bailey said of his players. “I know I am. … And I think for the school, a district championship, I think that’d be solid. I think that would be a good year. Anything short of that is not a successful season.”

Freshman Zak Kelly said the Eagles are “planning on winning districts.”

“I think we’re really good,” Kelly said. “I think we have players at every position that can do their job.”

Aside from how special a district championship would be in and of itself, from Bailey’s perspective, there is another incentive for winning one.

“This is my fifth year, so a lot (of) these guys were eighth-graders when I was coming in,” he said. “This is a special group for me. Personally, it means a lot. I want that district for them this year. They deserve it. It would be a great way to send (them) off.”

Some of the players who can help Ferndale come away from the season as district champions are senior pitchers Drake Landry and Max Dutra, junior pitcher Angelo Colucci, and senior catcher Lee Chafin.

“I love this team,” the coach said. “I would consider this to be maybe my most talented since I’ve been here, and I think a lot (of) that comes with the experience that they have together as a group and as a team. … We’re like just one big, giant family here.”

Perhaps even more important than chasing after a district championship is the kind of program Bailey thinks is in place at Ferndale. He said the Eagles are “exactly where we should be.”

“Since I got here, I think we’ve really progressed into more of a program, and not just a varsity team and a JV team, which I think is important,” Bailey said. “We have good coaching. We have (a) really, really great support staff with a grade-A athletic director (and a) great booster club. We play fall ball. … Those kind of things are important in building a program.”

Up next, Ferndale plays at 4:30 p.m. April 18 at Royal Oak High.

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