Shrine team that reached regional final in 2011 has most of its roster back

By: Mike Moore | Royal Oak Review | Published April 3, 2012

 Shrine first baseman Mike Cobbledick tags a U of D runner out during the season opener March 28. Shrine players and coaches feel like 2012 could be a very special season.

Shrine first baseman Mike Cobbledick tags a U of D runner out during the season opener March 28. Shrine players and coaches feel like 2012 could be a very special season.

Photo by Deb Jacques

ROYAL OAK — While there may never be a suitable answer as to whether or not momentum can carry over from one season to the next, guys on the Royal Oak Shrine baseball team have no problem believing it does.

And why shouldn’t they?

The Knights didn’t exactly hit the ground running last year, but from the midpoint of the season on, few were better in Division 4.

Shrine closed out the year with a 17-15 overall record, and had it not been for a regional final setback to Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, a team that finished 30-4 and won the D-4 title, who knows where the journey would have lead?

So now, some nine months later and with nearly the entire roster back in the fold, momentum is a common theme.

“I’d say guys are pretty optimistic about the season,” coach Dan Noble said with a laugh last week. “I thought we ended last year with a pretty decent run before running into Liggett, and now we’ve got most of that team back. We all know what the ultimate goal is, but we’ve got to take it step by step.”

“We’re looking forward to the season,” junior infielder Connor Francek said. “There’s a lot going for us right now, which is cool.”

As for a momentum carry over?

“For sure it does,” Francek added. “I think how we ended last year and the experience we bring back is a huge deal. Guys have been battle tested. They know what to expect.”

Noble, who’s now in his second year with the team, was quick to mention the 11 veterans back in the fold, but the talent is more of what he pointed out.

With Francek and senior Jared Terrill leading the pitching staff, Noble feels like he’s got an excellent one-two punch to fall back on.

He said the lineup lacks any real holes in it, so scoring runs shouldn’t be a problem, either.

Still, he said he’s doing his best to keep everything in perspective.

“You never want to settle for less than you’re capable of, but we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, either,” he said. “At the parent meeting before the season started, we talked about playing .500 baseball. If you start there and then build up, you’ve got a good plan in place.”

Game in early April, the coach said, must take on the same importance as those in the Catholic League playoffs, or even some that could lead to a Battle Creek visit.

“Maintaining focus is going to be huge,” Francek said. “But step by step, we feel like this is a championship-caliber team.