Longtime Lutheran North baseball coach returns, hopes to lead team to prominence

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 31, 2016


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Steve Herbst guided the Macomb Lutheran North baseball team from 2003 to 2012. In that span, he led the Mustangs to the program’s third district title in 2010.

After a three-year break, Herbst has returned to lead the team and is glad to be back.

“It’s a new start,” said Herbst, whose team sat at 3-1, 1-0 Catholic High School League AA Division, at press time. “It’s a whole new group for me. None of these guys were here my last year, but we’ve got a really good group.”

Herbst naturally wants to have success in the current and future seasons. He takes a long-term view with the program and its players, though.

The Lutheran North coach, who played collegiately at Eastern Michigan University, said his goal is to prepare his players for the possibility of playing at the next level.

“I like to see the players continue their careers,” Herbst said. “I look at this program as a curriculum, with the expectation of sending guys to the next level.”

Mustangs senior pitcher James Niemeyer said he and his teammates appreciate Herbst’s approach.

“He definitely brings a different perspective to the game, since he played at Eastern,” Niemeyer said.

“He’s been helping us out a lot already. He showed us a lot of different things that we could work on in the winter even though we couldn’t get outside. He’s showing us how to maintain focus so we can be a strong team.”

Niemeyer and the rest of the Mustangs’ pitching staff — senior Michael Barno, junior Jack Hilt and sophomore Noah Fiehn — form what Herbst called a strong rotation. The Lutheran North coach said pitching is one of the main keys to the team’s prospects, especially in the CHSL, which plays 3-2 (3 balls, 2 strikes).

Herbst said the Mustangs will be a running team, wreaking havoc on the base paths. He called his lineup solid, but one that will improve as the season goes along.

“I think our defense will be pretty good too,” Niemeyer said. “I don’t think we’ve made any errors yet this season. I know for sure we didn’t make any in my first start.”

Lutheran North’s season-opening win came against perennial power Madison Heights Bishop Foley. The Mustangs beat the Ventures 12-1 March 23. Herbst called it a good win for the program, but he put it into perspective.

Lutheran North went 7-16 last season.

“That was good because we’re a young team,” said Herbst, whose team includes five sophomores and three juniors. “I think we only have something like six players back from last year, so to start the season how we did is good. But I know the season will get tougher as it goes along, and I know Foley will be ready the next time we play them.”

Even with a young team, Herbst believes Lutheran North should compete for a CHSL Division title. The Mustangs’ last division championship came in 2002.

“We’re young, yeah, but a lot of the guys on this team have a lot of game experience under their belts,” Herbst said. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t compete for a division title.”

“We’ve got a lot of motivation for this season,” Niemeyer said. “We want to win division titles, district titles and more. We haven’t raised any banners in a while. We definitely want to get that done this season.”

Lutheran North next takes the field for a doubleheader against Pontiac Notre Dame Prep April 12. Game one is set for 4 p.m. Game two is slated for 6 p.m.