Baseballers look to move up in league
With the crack of the bats in the batting cages and the smack of gloves being broken in, LCC Head Coach Andrew Merchant and the 2016 LCC baseball team are looking to make the disappointing 2015 season a distant memory.
The Stars started 2016 by winning 10 of their first 15 games, including eight of 10 on the annual spring trip to Florida.
After ending last season with a 22-25 overall record, seven games away from the Region 12 Tournament, Merchant said his 2016 recruiting objectives were very apparent.
“Last year we had a lot of good recruits come in,” Merchant said. “One thing I wanted to do was to recruit different looks. So we got some lefties coming in and we have some better defensive players to give us a more rounded team. Our defense is unbelievably improved from last year.”
The Stars will need to rely on that versatility in 2016, with MCCAA rival Kellogg Community College ranked fifth nationally in the NJCAA Division II Top 25 preseason rankings.
“Right now we’re playing pretty solid; better than last year,” sophomore out fielder Jake Bozzo said. “The main thing is we haven’t had as many errors in the midfield like last year.”
One area Bozzo said he’s excited about is the pitching rotation. He said the staff, which had an ERA of 5.42 last year, can improve and help the Stars challenge for the MCCAA Western Conference crown this year.
Merchant said he is expecting leadership this year from sophomores like Bozzo, Nate Langenfeld and Sam Smith. He recalled a couple winnable games last season that slipped through the Stars’ fingers because nobody took control of the situations.
“Being a ‘ju-co’ (junior college) and having only freshman and sophomores, you can really change the look of your team in one year,” Merchant said.
Langenfeld will be looked to as a leader in the pitching rotation, which features eight freshmen. He said he is impressed with how this year’s freshmen have adapted to the college level.
“They’ve grown a lot already,” Langenfeld said. “You could see at the start of the year they weren’t really fully acclimated yet. It was like a new game almost.”
Merchant said he thinks his team will move up in the league this year.
“I just feel looking around, like we’ve moved up in the pecking order,” Merchant said. “The progress, sometimes being in here every day, can be so slow day-to-day … You don’t notice it but one day you look up and you’ve moved up quite a bit.”
The Stars were scheduled to host Delta College Saturday, April 2 at Westside Park in Lansing.