Lutheran North baseball coach hopes athletic team Gels quickly

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published March 31, 2015

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Macomb Lutheran North baseball coach Michael Hardies is direct and to the point when talking about the makeup of this year’s team.

“We have a very young team after graduating five seniors who were multi-year starters at their positions,” said Hardies, whose team sat at 0-2 at press time.

Hardies said this year’s group is the most athletic team Lutheran North has had in some time, as it has solid speed, strength and other intangibles. Youth does have its drawbacks, though. Hardies, whose team lost in the district round of last season’s playoffs, said general baseball IQ is something this group must work to improve on as the season goes along. Understanding what to do in certain situations — two men on, no outs, etc. — is a key component of baseball, Hardies said.

“Much of that comes with experience,” Hardies said, “of which we are lacking in some areas.”

The team returns eight players from last season’s squad, including four starters.

After losing three All-Catholic High School League players (Will Kruse, Justin Robertson and Aaron Haywood), Hardies has tabbed seniors David Starkey (second base), Brad Kotenko (center field) and Garrett Monroe (pitcher), along with junior shortstop Michael Barno, as leaders of the team. Kotenko was named All-CHSL AA Division in 2014.

“The seniors have to step up in order for us to be successful,” Hardies said. “Barno has a chance to do big things for us, as well.”

Those players will have plenty of chances to show their worth, as Lutheran North routinely plays a challenging non-league schedule in addition to a tough CHSL slate. Hardies said that pushes Lutheran North players to get better every day.

“The opportunities to compete against the best day in and day out makes them better ballplayers,” said Hardies, whose team next takes on perennial power Madison Heights Bishop Foley in a doubleheader (4 p.m., 5:30 p.m.) April 14 at Lutheran North. “The exposure our athletes get is also a motivating factor, with college scouts and others being at a lot of our games.”

Like most teams, Lutheran North has goals of winning division and postseason championships.

The Mustangs last won a league title in 2002 and last captured a district championship in 2010. Hardies said earning a championship would take a great deal of hard work and some fortunate bounces.

“I think we have a great deal of potential,” Hardies said. “It will all come down to how well we play together as a team and carry out our assignments.”

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