Hazel Park High baseball battling with young roster

By: Mark Vest | Madison - Park News | Published April 26, 2019

 Coach Don Righter is pictured with Lance Taylor near third base April 23. Righter said Hazel Park “can hang with anybody in our area.”

Coach Don Righter is pictured with Lance Taylor near third base April 23. Righter said Hazel Park “can hang with anybody in our area.”

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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HAZEL PARK — Hazel Park High baseball coach Don Righter has a different look to his team this season.

With multiple players having graduated from last year’s team, Righter said his squad is a “very young” one.

And although he said the Vikings are “kind (of) feeling some growing pains,” Righter also acknowledged the team’s potential.

“We continue to improve, and we’re just looking to put it all together at the right time,” Righter said. “So, we’re moving up; we’re on an uphill climb, both offensively and defensively.”

At press time, Hazel Park was 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the Oakland Activities Association Gold Division.

In victory or defeat, Righter said his players are gaining invaluable experience.

“If you’re a sophomore playing against seniors, you’re playing against the top competition in our area, and so forth. You’re (going to) see it now, and you get used to it,” the coach said. “And if you have success, that just breeds (more) success, so you’ll continue and know, ‘Yes, I know I can play well at this level, as maybe a 10th- or 11th-grader. As a 12th-grader, I’m just (going to) continue to improve.’”

Righter said Hazel Park is a very strong, cohesive team that works well together. From his perspective, it’s just a question of whether or not the Vikings can put it all together as they move forward.

And although the best may be yet to come, Hazel Park doesn’t necessarily have to wait too long to show itself capable of making things difficult for opposing teams.

“We can hang with anybody in our area,” Righter said.

Junior Logan Eddy was part of the Hazel Park team that won a Division 2 district championship in 2017, and he would like to experience more postseason success this year.

“From a team standpoint, I think as long as we draw our bats together and we work on the fielding plays, we could win districts and go on to regionals,” Eddy said.

Aside from what he said is great support from teachers and administrators, Righter has other reasons to be pleased with the state of Hazel Park’s program.

“We have a lot of interest in the baseball program here at Hazel Park,” he said. “We’ve had a good turnout (in) our lower levels. We have a good interest in the varsity program, and we have a beautiful facility, thanks to the people of Hazel Park and the school district that gave (us) this lovely place to play. … It’s a great place to be. It’s a great job. I love it.”

Up next, Hazel Park plays at 4:30 p.m. May 2 at home against Ferndale High.

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