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Lamphere baseball team bucks odds, wins district title

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Madison - Park News | Published June 8, 2012

 On their way to a Division 2 district title, Madison Heights Lamphere junior Ryan Roman and the Rams outscored three opponents 17-1.

On their way to a Division 2 district title, Madison Heights Lamphere junior Ryan Roman and the Rams outscored three opponents 17-1.

Photo by Roy Feldman

‘That was an exciting
moment for Lamphere’
Rams softball and baseball
teams win district titles
By Mark Vest
Earlier this season, Lamphere softball coach Don Mullen made it no secret that his team was aiming for a district championship, and it accomplished just that by defeating Warren Fitzgerald 12-2 in the championship game June 2.
The Rams also proved capable of putting plenty of runs on the board in their opening-round game of the district tournament, defeating Clawson 12-0.
The Rams had lost district championship games to Birmingham-Detroit Country Day in each of the last three seasons prior to this one, and Mullen was happy to see his team get over the proverbial hump by capturing the team’s first title since 2006.
“That was kind of our goal all year,” he said. “A lot of enthusiasm and a lot of relief after three straight times of getting to the championship game and not finishing. All the hard work paid off. I think the parents were pumped, the girls were pumped, and the coaches were real happy. That was an exciting moment for Lamphere. And then we found out the boys were winning, so it was like a double dip that the girls and boys both won the district.
“The five seniors (Chelsea Austin, Michelle Paavo, Marianne Carney, Meghan Versele and Julie Swanson) wanted to finish with something to add to their record book. They were graduating that day, so they kind of had it on their calendar. They wanted to win a district championship when they went to their graduation, and that was something they were shooting for.”
Aside from the Rams winning their first district championship since 2006, thinking about the possibilities that may lie ahead for his program is one more reason Mullen may have an extra bounce in his step these days.
“The girls are now more focused,” he said. “We have more girls playing in the offseason, and that certainly helps. My assistant, Bob Barnauskas, coaches a summer team, and some of our girls are on that team. Steve Essanmacher (coaches) our JV, and they had an outstanding year. We can be really improved in the future, and I think this sets the tone — kind of like a shooting star for the girls that are younger to achieve.”
Lamphere was set to play St. Clair in the opening round game of regionals after press time. Keep up with regional and quarterfinal action at

MADISON HEIGHTS — Going into a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 district baseball tournament after barely staying out of the basement into the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division, the Madison Heights Lamphere baseball team wasn’t given much of a chance to win a district championship.

But the Rams (15-18) beat those odds and downed three teams on their way to a district title.

“As far as wins go, this ranks at or near the top for me in my career, because there were very few people outside of the team who believed we could win the district,” said Lamphere coach Adam Wooley, who at the start of the season set a goal for his team to win a district crown.

“The kids believed in their abilities, and we stayed together even through the tough stretches of the season.”

The Rams hit the diamond for regional play after press time. The state quarterfinals were also played after press time. Should the Rams survive those stiff tests, they would next play June 15 in an MHSAA state semifinal in Battle Creek.

The Rams, a young team that lost seven seniors from a 2011 MAC Gold division champ, shut out Ferndale High 5-0 June 2 to clinch the district crown.

Lamphere seemed to be on a mission once the tournament began. The Rams began with a 2-1 district quarterfinal win May 29 over Hazel Park and then beat Clawson 10-0 in the semifinals June 2 before downing Ferndale in the final.

Wooley acknowledged the team had a subpar regular season. He said tough losses his team faced — Lamphere lost five games by two runs or less — hardened his young players and taught them to take ownership of their play and change their mindset.

“So to persevere through that kind of frustration shows their mettle,” Wooley said. “But make no mistake, the lessons they learned helped them slow the game (pressure) down in districts.”

Wooley said junior pitcher/leadoff hitter Ryan Roman has led the Rams all season. Roman paced the team with a .421 batting average, four home runs, 27 RBI and 18 stolen bases, along with a 2.15 earned-run average and a 4-2 record as a starting pitcher.

Wooley also touted sophomore Shane Sabrosky (.394 average, 13 doubles, 28 RBI) and senior pitcher Alex Howard, who helped solidify the team’s rotation after he missed the first half of the season. The Lamphere coach also said his middle infield — sophomores Mike Kapala and Ian Dimitrie — and catcher (sophomore Kristian Fredlund) are young, but solid.

“It was a tough year for us record-wise, so to finish the season strong was a top priority,” Wooley said. “For a young team to play with such focus, I’m extremely happy.”