Utica High baseball looking forward to league play

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 15, 2019

 Utica High senior pitcher Ethan Schuerman goes through his motion April 11 in a game against Sterling Heights Stevenson on the road. Schuerman allowed four runs on four hits while striking out four in the Chieftains loss.

Utica High senior pitcher Ethan Schuerman goes through his motion April 11 in a game against Sterling Heights Stevenson on the road. Schuerman allowed four runs on four hits while striking out four in the Chieftains loss.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

UTICA — Not happy with the results, but excited for league play. That’s how Utica High baseball coach Mark Moehlig described the Chieftains’ start to the season.

At press time, Utica was 1-4 overall, with the lone win coming over Roseville High. In the first game of the season, the Chieftains lost to Macomb Dakota, which is currently undefeated and playing in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division. Also in the Red are 4-1 Utica Eisenhower and 5-0 Sterling Heights Stevenson; both teams took down Utica earlier in the season.

Moehlig said he isn’t going to worry too much about those results, because his Chieftains play two leagues below Dakota, Ike and Stevenson in the MAC Blue. The teams in the Blue — Port Huron High, Fraser High, Warren Cousino, Port Huron Northern and Marysville High — are the ones that are of Moehlig’s concern.

Fraser is a team that Moehlig said always has success, while Cousino is a newcomer to the division.

If the Chieftains are going to see success in the division this year, it will require a team effort.

“We have a really nice mix of young guys and older guys,” Moehlig said. “It’s been nice, because the seniors are doing a really nice job of showing those young guys how to handle their business like the seniors before them. Things are going well, and it’s a very independent team.”

Senior Jake Hutson said it’s important that the seniors show strong examples of leadership so the program is in good hands when they leave.

Fellow senior Johnny Tish said this is the closest senior class he’s ever seen.

“We really take a lot of the underclassmen under our wings,” he said. “We’ve played for four years together — there’s a lot of us too, but it’s a good bond that we have. It’s easier to play with that.”

When asked to describe his senior class as a whole, Moehlig said the team has “great mojo.” He said they are an upbeat group that enjoys doing things the right way. It’s a group that finds the fun in everything and is able to maintain a great atmosphere around the team every day.

Junior Kurt Kessen is also playing a big role for the team. The junior is coming off a strong 2018 season in which his numbers left him just short of All-State honors.

“All those returners, we need them to improve on what they did last year,” Moehlig said. “The new group is going to improve, but they’re going to improve on a little bit of a slower scale, so we need those seniors to hold the bar until they get there, which they have been doing.”

The team is confident that it can compete for a league title. Tish said the team will definitely be competing for a district title as well.

The overarching goals for Utica are what Moehlig calls “daily operational goals.” Taking care of the small things now will ensure the bigger things, like the league and district titles, will work themselves out.