St. Michaels Baseball in Midst of Another Standout Season
It looks like it will be another strong season for the St. Michaels baseball team.
A young Saints team enjoyed a terrific campaign in 2016, finishing 19-3 and winning the MPSSAA 1A East title. The Talbot County School would see its season end in the MPSSAA state semifinal round in a close 6-5 contest against the eventual state champion, Brunswick.
As well as St. Michaels did last season, this year's team has the potential to do even better. The Saints lost just one starter from 2016, and the group enters its spring break with a 9-0 record.
"Our team strength will be hitting and pitching depth. We have several arms we can throw each week and we are currently hitting over .400 as a team," head coach Brian Femi said. "We like to put pressure on our opponents and this team runs the bases very well. They are smart base runners who like to steal bases."
Indeed, the Saints' attack appears to be among the best in the state. St. Michaels is hitting .458 as a team, with an on base percentage that is over .500. The team averages just under 11 runs a game.
The offense is led by junior Nathan Howeth, who is batting .581. Seniors Noah Brack and Tucker Heinlein join Howeth in batting over .500 with averages of .542 and .519 respectively, while junior Matt Grogan is right at .500. Brack and Grogan lead the team with OBP's of .593, while Howeth is right behind them with .581. Sophomore Nick Newman rounds out the top of the offense with a .452 batting average.
"We're blessed to have good hitters with great plate discipline. We hit up and down the lineup and seem to have a different person step up each game, which is the mark of a good team," Femi said. "We put a bunch of balls in play, we don't strike out much. They are hard workers who work on and off the field."
To go with the team's potent offense is a deep pitching staff that Femi says features numerous arms that get used on a weekly basis.
At the top of the rotation is Brack, who is yet to allow an earned run this spring. Grogan holds a 1.40 earned run average thus far, while junior Brodie Steen has a 1.50 ERA.
The team's pitching came through in the team's most recent game against Kent Island. For the first time this season, the Saints' offense was held in check, managing just two runs, but St. Michaels still found a way to win, coming away with a 2-1 victory.
It was the closest win St. Michaels had all season, with the next being an 8-4 result against North Dorchester. The victory was also a welcome sight for Femi, who was glad to see how his players handled the adversity of a contest where there was little room for error.
"The best thing about this team is they don't panic. They focus on playing the game one pitch at a time- they focus more on the process than the result," Femi said. "Our mental approach is big, we refocus on bad swings or bad calls- this team does not let that bother them. They have a routine and follow it."
The players also benefit from having an excellent coaching staff that focuses on player improvement. Femi says any of his assistants, which are Bill Burton, Don Gowe, Spencer Madsen and Zach Wallace, have the expertise to be a head coach.
The Saints also enjoy superb support from the surrounding community. Femi says St. Michaels routinely play games in front of at least 500 supporters as the entire area is crazy for baseball.
Those crowds can be expected to get bigger if St. Michaels goes on another deep playoff push. Though that appears to be in play for the Saints this season, Femi wants his team to take it one step at a time.
"Our first goal is to win the region. We try not to get ahead of ourselves, we refocus and set the next goal," Femi said. "This team is great at focusing on the process and approaching the game one pitch at a time. If we continue to do that, the results will take care of themselves."
|April 18th, 2017||By: Wick Eisenberg|