Hazel Park High’s Ryan Ball (19) takes a lead off third base in a game earlier  this year. Despite losing 3-2 in a district final, Hazel Park coach Don Righter  said his team played “to the final out.”

Hazel Park High’s Ryan Ball (19) takes a lead off third base in a game earlier this year. Despite losing 3-2 in a district final, Hazel Park coach Don Righter said his team played “to the final out.”

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Hazel Park High baseball loses district final; local teams battle in regional

By: Mark Vest | Madison - Park News | Published June 7, 2019

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HAZEL PARK — A base hit in the last half of the seventh inning ended Hazel Park High’s baseball season, as the Vikings lost to Ferndale High 3-2 in a Division 2 district final June 4 at Ferndale.

With the score tied 2-2, Ferndale loaded the bases before senior Sanford Smith III delivered a game-winning hit for the Eagles.

Following the game, Hazel Park coach Don Righter described his team as one with “heart.” The Vikings finished the year at 7-12 overall and 4-8 in the Oakland Activities Association Gold Division.

“We played a great ballgame today against a good team, against good pitching,” Righter said. “It came down to the wire. It could have gone either way at any time and just happened to go their way. … They didn’t give in, they didn’t give up, and (they) played from the first pitch to the final out.”

Earlier in the year, Righter said his team was “very young” and “kind (of) feeling some growing pains.”

But at season’s end, he had a different perspective.

“They have matured, and this is the maturity that we see,” Righter said. “That young group is now a seasoned ballclub. We got a lot (of) guys coming back next year, and I am happy for that. They’re experienced; they’re a seasoned group of guys.”

For as tough as the loss against Ferndale was, the experience of going through it could help Hazel Park going forward.

“This is a pressure-packed game against (a) crosstown rival, and we did not fold under that pressure,” Righter said. “We made them earn it. We didn’t give it; we made them earn it, and they did.”

The seniors on Hazel Park’s squad were Noah Halleck, Andrew Adkins and Michael McGee.

“I’m proud of them,” Righter said. “No one can take their place, ever. I will miss them, but they’re on to bigger and better things.”

As for the players who are expected to return next season, Righter is already thinking about what he wants for Hazel Park’s program.

“I (want to) hoist that trophy next year,” he said. “I think we’ve got the tools. We’ve got the talent to put it all together for next year. I think we can do it. We’ve shown that we can hang with really good pitching and good teams in our district.”


In local softball news:
Madison Heights Bishop Foley won the program’s second consecutive D-3 district championship with a 17-0 win against Detroit Henry Ford Academy June 1 at home.

The Ventures were scheduled to play in a regional tournament June 8, after press time.

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