Veteran group of players and second-year coach have hopes high at R.O.

By: Mike Moore | Royal Oak Review | Published April 9, 2012

 Ravens pitcher Alex Tuszynski said the chemistry of the team is already in place thanks to so many guys returning from last year’s squad.

Ravens pitcher Alex Tuszynski said the chemistry of the team is already in place thanks to so many guys returning from last year’s squad.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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ROYAL OAK — There’s a sense of confidence about the team, and there are plenty of reasons for it.

There’s an offense that expects to score some runs; a defense that sees itself as a well-oiled machine.

Then there’s a pitching staff that was solid before the MHSAA changed any rules on the bats, but now hopes to take full advantage of it.

But most of all, as Royal Oak High baseball coach Chris Lau and a few of his guys explained, the confidence being felt here this year comes from a combination of talent and team work.

“It’s huge,” Lau said of the 10 returning players on the Ravens’ roster this season. Lau is in his second year as head coach. “With the guys we have back, especially the veteran pitchers here, they know what to expect. When you’ve got that experience to fall back on, you understand what it takes from one day to the next to better yourself.”

“We’re still a work in progress, but when everyone knows everyone the way we do, that chemistry is already there,” said senior Alex Tuszynski.

Royal Oak was 11-19 in Lau’s first season, taking over for long-time coach Brian Gordon. He, as well as his players, admitted there was an adjustment period.

By now, that period is long over.

“I think the strengths and weaknesses are understood by now,” Lau said. “We know each other pretty well.”

“Coach Lau has a different style than coach Gordon did, definitely,” senior Dominic Valente said prior to an April 4 game against Lake Orion. “Things are a little looser or more relaxed. So it took some time to adjust to the style, but I think we’re all in now. We get it.”

Valente will be key this season if the Ravens are to improve on the 11-19 record. The senior was solid on the mound a year ago and is expected to be the ace of a strong rotation this spring.

“Like any good high school team, quality pitching is going to be key for us, and I think that’s one of our strengths,” Lau said. “I’m very confident that group is going to be good for us.”

The Ravens expect to compete for an Oakland Activities Association Blue Division title. Beyond that, they hope to make more noise in the district tournament than they have in previous years.

“There’s a lot riding on this season, not only because a lot of us are seniors but because we know how good this team can be,” Valente added. “For some of us, it’s the last chance we have, and we want to make the most of it.”
 

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