Lakeshore baseball keeping routine as they hunt a state repeat
STEVENSVILLE, Mich. - There may be no sport that breeds superstitions like baseball does.
And few local teams take theirs as seriously as the Lakeshore Lancers.
“We’ve always come out here and we have to do our little deal before we leave," said Lancers head coach Mark Nate. "We listen to a song [laying outside the dugout] looking at the sky. We’ll be here at 5:15 or 5:30 in the morning.”
An early rise because the Lancers have a 9 a.m. start at tomorrow’s Division 2 State Semifinals at Michigan State.
“We did it last year, and this year we’ve done the same ritual. We've got to do it again tomorrow. We ride in the same spot in the cars. When you get something going in the right direction, you just don’t change.”
Things have been going in the right direction for a while now in Stevensville.
The Lancers are the defending state champs in Division 2 and returned several seniors for this year’s shot at a repeat.
“We just go out and compete," said one of those seniors, Connor Brawley. "We know nobody works as hard as we do in practice. We run every day. We do everything. Reps, reps, reps. That’s all you can do. I feel like we got our goosebumps out last year. Now we’re just having fun playing the game of baseball.”
But still, each season comes with some bumps along the way.
Though there was a strong core returning, plenty of new faces meant an adjustment period had to be worked through as well.
“At the start of the season, we were a little uncertain but now we’re confident in every person," said Joel Brawley. "If the balls hit, everybody’s going to make the play. We’re all going to make the play, so it’s just the confidence level we have in each other.”
Now, Lakeshore takes that confidence into a matchup with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, who most on the outside would slate as the favorite.
But not on this diamond.
“I’m not gonna say we’re underdogs to anybody," said Nate. "We are the defending state champs and it’s the game of baseball. Anything can happen in baseball.
“Lakeshore’s always known as the underdog," said senior Sean Branch. "Small team, small town. We go and people think we’re going to lay down but we never do.”
“All the way through, we’ve faced really good opponents," Nate continued. "We’re happy we have our number one pitcher going and I’m sure they have their number one pitcher going. It should be a good game. “
But no matter the result in East Lansing, this group knows what it has accomplished.
“No other team has a team like us," said Branch. "We’re very unique. We have such a good chemistry and such a good atmosphere out here on this wonderful field. I’m just real grateful.”
And that's exactly what Coach Nate wants to hear.
“Win or lose tomorrow, you can’t take anything away from any of us and what we’ve accomplished," he said.
"But it’s just not finished yet.”
If the Lancers get past St. Mary's, they'll play for another state title on Saturday.
They aren't alone, either. Lake Michigan Catholic out of St. Joe will play in the Division 4 semifinal on Thursday, as well as Coloma softball.