Parkway Christian baseball hoping for repeat success after strong 2014 campaign

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 13, 2015

 The Sterling Heights Parkway Christian baseball team hopes to exceed last season’s success, when the team won division, district and regional championships. Pictured is Eagles senior pitcher Wes Gross winding up during an April 18 game against Fraser High.

The Sterling Heights Parkway Christian baseball team hopes to exceed last season’s success, when the team won division, district and regional championships. Pictured is Eagles senior pitcher Wes Gross winding up during an April 18 game against Fraser High.

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Sterling Heights Parkway Christian senior shortstop Derek Dudek remembers when the school’s baseball team was what he called the “laughing stock” of the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference Red Division.

“But to have been able to watch the team grow into what it has become has been great,” said Dudek, a four-year varsity player.

What the team has become is one of the better teams in Division 4. That’s shown in what the Eagles (10-4, 5-1 MIAC Red Division at press time) accomplished last season, winning division, district and regional titles.

Parkway Christian players, and coach Rich Cook, are looking for similar success this season. The team is in the race for a second straight division title. The Eagles also will play host to a D-4 district tournament, with the postseason set to begin May 26. In the district with Parkway Christian are Marine City Cardinal Mooney, New Haven Merritt Academy, Royal Oak Shrine and Warren Macomb Christian.

Cook said his team has the talent to make another deep playoff run. It lost some key pieces from last year’s group but returned a number of solid players, such as senior outfielder Todd Krolewski, junior pitcher Riley McManus and junior catcher Austin Fuller.

“And we were fortunate to get a couple of good transfers who have become huge assets,” Cook said. “We knew coming in we’d have some good players. What’s good is there have been some guys who have stepped up and made contributions we weren’t expecting at the outset of the season.”

Parkway Christian’s defense and pitching have been solid all season, according to Cook, and have allowed the team to win several close games. The Eagles’ hitting must catch up, though, as the offense hasn’t been as explosive as Cook thought it would be.

“Our bats have been a little slow, and we haven’t hit for power,” Dudek said. “I think the hitting will come around when it needs to.”

Dudek said it’s important for him and his teammates to stay focused and mentally tough. He knows teams now see Parkway Christian as a threat, and he wants the team to recognize that there are no easy games.

Cook said his biggest sticking point heading into the postseason is ensuring that his players continue to improve every day.

“And we can’t overlook anybody. You do that, especially in the playoffs, and you’re home much earlier than you wanted to be,” Cook said.

“We set some lofty goals. But to say the season would be a disappointment if we don’t win a state title would be a lie. That’s the ultimate goal, sure, so we’re going to have a state title-winning mindset from here on out.”

Parkway Christian next takes the field for a matchup against Algonac at 4:30 p.m. May 14 at Parkway Christian.

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