With roster intact, Groves baseball takes aim at another productive spring

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 28, 2017


BIRMINGHAM — If last year was great, well, there’s no telling what the prospects of this spring could be.

That’s the mindset of the Birmingham Groves baseball team as the 2017 season takes shape.

It was one year ago that the Falcons won 31 games and played into the regional round. Now, one year later, with almost the same roster intact, optimism is soaring.

“We have the team and the depth to really make a run at things here,” coach Shawn Morrison said. “Once playoffs start and it’s the one-and-done system, a good season can be lost quickly. But this is a group that has the talent and the makeup to put together a very good season.”

With a team consisting of just six seniors, Groves finished 31-10 a year ago and beat Birmingham Brother Rice in the district final.

The season finally came to an end in a loss to Rochester Adams in the regional semifinals.

From that team, though, eight starters are back in the mix, including the team’s top two starters on the mound.

Last year’s No. 3 starter, Andre Mailing, who went 6-1, and third baseman Joe Roberts (.350 batting average) are the lone starters who graduated.

“Both will be tough starters to replace, but with essentially eight guys back and our top two arms, we have some nice depth,” Morrison said.

And with that in mind, the Falcons’ skipper upped the ante in terms of the competition his guys are going to face.

“We did it intentionally, scheduling some tougher teams,” Morrison said. “When it comes down to it, I think we have the team this year to put together the toughest schedule possible and still have a real good record. We may not win 31 games, but we’ll be ready come playoff time.”

Some of the upper-echelon teams the Falcons will see this spring include Brighton High, Portage Central, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Troy High and Troy Athens, to name a few.

From April 28 through May 3, Morrison also set up eight games in five days for his guys.

Morrison expects his group to be evenly balanced, one that will throw plenty of strikes while scoring plenty of runs.

Max Novick  (5-3, 2.88 ERA last year) and Andrew Martin (6-1, 1.41 ERA) will anchor the pitching staff.

Novick (.415 batting average) led the team in hitting last year and drove in 30 runs.

John Kowalchuk (.413, 32 RBIs), Zavier Warren (.398, 34 RBIs) and Connor Bradbury (.367) are all back in the mix to lead the offense again.

“Going to be very balanced,” Morrison said. “We have the strength to score runs. At the same time, we have pitching depth and a defense that’s a fast, mobile unit.”

The Falcons, weather permitting, are set to open the season at 4:30 p.m. March 29 at Berkley High.