Ventures set out to defend baseball state championship from 2011

By: Mike Moore | Madison - Park News | Published March 30, 2012

 Brett Sunde was paramount in Foley’s ride to a state title last season. The senior said he welcomes the challenge of trying to defend the title.

Brett Sunde was paramount in Foley’s ride to a state title last season. The senior said he welcomes the challenge of trying to defend the title.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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MADISON HEIGTHS — When the spring of 2011 ended, Brett Sunde and Luke Ortel were basking in an unrelenting Battle Creek sun, tears and dirt smudged across their faces while the celebration of a state title carried on around them.

Some nine months later, the Madison Heights Bishop Foley seniors and the rest of the baseball team are set to embark on a task some consider more daunting than what was accomplished last year — defending the title.

“We’re going to be a target, we know that,” Sunde said. “It’s motivation for us, though. People are going to gun for us. We’ll enjoy it.”

“The goals haven’t changed,” said Ortel, who recorded the final out in last season’s title game. “We know it’s not going to be easy, but at our first practice, we were already talking about winning another one.”

Last year’s team, considered by some the best in the entire state in any division, finished the year 39-3 after beating Bridgman High 8-2 in the D-3 final. It was the first title for Foley’s baseball program and was made even sweeter after the 2010 team reached Battle Creek, even though Foley lost in the semifinals.

Still, players and coaches alike know duplicating that feat is anything but guaranteed, especially after nine seniors graduated.

“I think this is a much different team with a much different dynamic than last year,” coach Buster Sunde said. “We’re going to have to do some different things if we’re going to do what we did last year.”

Sunde said last year’s roster was so deep and made up of so much talent that his team could often slug its way to wins.

“I think the makeup of this team is going to force us to generate more runs with small ball, or bunting or hitting behind runners,” he said. “We’ve got a great lineup, but I think the little things are going to be more important than they were last year.”

But that fact doesn’t mean this team isn’t capable of the same results as last year’s.

“I think (we can win a state title), I really do,” Sunde added. “Obviously, there are some things that have to fall into place. Our pitching has to be strong, but I think as far as runs and defense, we’ll find a way to get those things done. It’s a very experienced group, and that helps.”

“We’re going to need some of the younger guys to step up, and they know that,” Ortel said. “But we believe for someone to be the champ, they have to go through us. We feel like the only team that can slow us down is ourselves, if we don’t do what we’re capable of. … We’ve got that title to defend. Now, we want to go get another one.”

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