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Fraser baseball team still working out the kinks

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published April 25, 2012

 Fraser High pitcher Matt Lawrey and the Ramblers hope their pitching and defense improves as the season continues. At press time, Fraser was allowing about eight runs a game.

Fraser High pitcher Matt Lawrey and the Ramblers hope their pitching and defense improves as the season continues. At press time, Fraser was allowing about eight runs a game.

Photo by David Schreiber

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FRASER — His team is averaging about nine runs per game (14.3 in wins), yet Fraser baseball coach Dave Kuppe doesn’t believe the Ramblers’ offense is the key to the season.

Kuppe said making plays on defense and solid pitching would determine how successful Fraser — 7-4, 1-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division at press time — will be this season. Early on, both phases of the game have been a little shaky, with the Ramblers giving up more than six runs per contest, 10 per game in losses.

“We lost three starting infielders from last year, so we’re still trying to find the right mix of players to put out on the field. Those three spots are where the majority of the issues are so far,” said Kuppe, whose team finished 17-9, 5-5 in the MAC Gold in 2011.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who can hit. They’re good at moving people around and getting a lot of at-bats, so scoring runs won’t be an issue, I don’t think. We just have to keep drilling and drilling guys on defense.”

Starting shortstop Matt Mainhardt, a junior in his second year with the varsity team, is Fraser’s lone returning starting infielder. Mainhardt, the squad’s top hitter with a batting average north of .500, said he thinks the new guys are catching on, and the Ramblers’ infield defense will soon be the strength of the team.

“Everything will come together,” senior catcher Taylor Grzelakowski said. “The more reps they get in the field, the more plays they’ll make.”

Grzelakowski hopes Fraser’s new pitching staff gets better with more reps, as well. Of the eight pitchers who will get starts this season, only three saw time on the mound in 2011.

The three-year varsity catcher said he’s working on building continuity with the staff. He said communication on the field and mastering various signs will help the guys in the rotation.

Mainhardt, primarily a shortstop, is one of those first-year pitchers. He tossed five innings as a freshman, got a start earlier this year and will be called on again, according to Kuppe.

“(Kuppe) has been working with me, getting me some bullpen sessions, so I can be comfortable (on the mound),” Mainhardt said. “I pitch for another team in the offseason, so I’m getting used to it. I just have to make sure I do things to separate my offense and defense, so no one part starts to lag behind.”

Kuppe is determined to make sure Fraser’s defense doesn’t lag behind all season. He said such MAC Gold teams as Warren Cousino and Warren Woods Tower will also make plays at the plate, so the league may come down to which team gets timely defensive stops.

“My goal is the same as it was at the start of the season — get better defensively,” Kuppe said. “If we can get stops, I think we’ll be all right.”

The Ramblers next hit the field for a road game at Rochester High, slated for 2 p.m. April 28.

 

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