The amount of softball talent in the area these days is as good as its ever been. For example, just look at our local prep hurlers. Oakland County might have the two best junior pitchers in the state in Lakeland's Carlee Meek and Troy's Jordan Wheatley. Both these young ladies are cold-hearted menaces from the circle, taking down opposing batters with overwhelming power, skill, and precision. The experience each acquired last season as sophomores when their respective teams made long runs in the state tournament- Meek's Eagles lost in the state title game to Howell and Wheatley's Colts bowed to Anchor Bay in the quarterfinals - has proved invaluable, paying out huge dividends with ace-worthy dominance every time they hit the rubber this spring. Meek's performance merits additional recognition since her immaculate 23-0 record is tops in the state in Division I. Oh, yeah, by the way, they both excel from the plate as well! On Sunday afternoon, Meek smacked a game-winning two-RBI double that plated three runs, helping Lakeland claim first place in the 31st annual Fred Pieper Tournament with a 6-5 win over Sterling Heights Stevenson.
Speaking of Lakeland, I'm predicting this is the year that head coach Joe Alsup and his band of merry, not to mention merciless lady Eagles, take home that ever elusive state championship trophy. Its not like they haven't been knocking at the door - i.e. four straight regional titles and two recent trips to the state finals. In 2009 they're going to blast right through it. Ranked third in the state in Division I and sporting a flawless 25-0 record, these female diamond dazzlers have been playing at a scary level. The Eagles' relentless attack can get you from every angle. The fearless pitching duo of Meek and Michelle Stiltner compliment a offensive line-up stacked to the brim with sweet swinging sluggers like Andi Dawson (who also plays a mean centerfield), Kelsey Cleary, Kelsey Johnson, Erica Rizzo, Anna Armstrong, Devan Olah, and Rachel Hammer. Lakeland served notice last Friday when they swept a doubleheader from longtime nemesis Howell, the squad they lost to in last year's state championship game, that they mean business. If the Eagles keep playing the way they are, its only a matter of time be fore the blue and white are hoisting a championship banner back on Bogey Lake Rd.
Halfway through the season, my sleeper baseball teams are Troy and Clawson. A state semi-finalist last season, Troy has been struggling with its identity after losing Joe Berti, Nick Gallina, and Steve Barrett to graduation. The Colts stumbled out of the gate and right now are sitting just under the .500 mark. That all said, I'm really not that worried about head coach Frank De Vito and his troops and wouldn't at all be surprised to see them playing deep into June. De Vito is a master tactician and seniors James Anderzjewski and Chris Gebara have the leadership ability to engineer a major league turnaround as we head towards the stretch run. Clawson, on the other hand, has been playing real well all season. Rob Feeman, Shawn Giroux, Howard Crippen and the rest of the Trojans are showing some serious prowess on the baseball diamond, making up for sub-par showings in the fall and winter in football and hoops. Playing in Division II, I think Clawson has a good chance to make some noise in Districts andRegional's. And after that anything can happen. I wish the Colts and the Trojans both the best of luck