Alright, Week Two of the 2009 MHSAA state baseball tournament is upon us and Oakland County is ripe with exciting action on tap for this coming weekend's regionals. Congrats to all the county's district winners in both baseball and softball and good luck in the next round. Goodbye to some of this season's best squad's and feel-good stories of the year - Lakeland, Seaholm, Walled Lake Western and Northern in baseball and Waterford Our Lady of The Lakes and Walled Lake Central in softball - who each had outstanding regular seasons in their own right but failed to advance.
Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, let's take a look at some of this Saturday best match-ups:
The most intriguing regional-semi final showdown looks to be in the Clarkston regional where Rochester Adams and Auburn Hills Avondale, two of the county's best and brightest, meet up for the second time this season. In their first match-up back in early-April, Adams rallied from behind in the sixth inning to notch the victory. No doubt, Avondale has that game in the back of its head as motivation as the team prepares for a re-match and a chance for redemption. The Yellowjackets are deep and experienced. They hit all the way down the line-up and Adam Purcilly and Donovan Rigel give them command and composure from the mound. However, Adams could be a team of destiny this year. Head coach, Chuck Van Robay's Highlanders look primed for a shot at a deep run and a possible reservation for Cereal City on June 12. The Highlanders' strong three man pitching rotation - ace Andrew Waszak, Ryan Strum, and Mike Johnson - is augmented by what some consider the most dangerous offense in the area. Adams has a lethal batting order peppered with sensational sluggers like Nick Druzinski, Kyle Casadei, Andy Mass, Mike Barber, and T.J, Trouba. If Waszak is on his game from the bump, I predict Adams will triumph in another close contest. From there, Adams will most-likely run into Hartland, a powerhouse from Livingston county. Highlanders continue to soar - see ya Tuesday in the quarters, boys.
Over in the Novi regional, it looks like Brother Rice and Catholic Central are on a collision course for the regional final late Saturday afternoon. These teams split their season series against each other and even though the defending champion Warriors of Brother Rice have been rounding into shape as of late following a tough end to their regular season, CC is much better than its .500 record might indicate - the Shamrocks played in the most competitive conference in the entire state. Sorry coach Riker, but I sense an upset special here. Hoopsters turned diamond-studs, Steve Harding, Brett Smith, and Tim Dezelski are going to show Keenan Hart, Corey Smith and the rest what its like to win a regional and pull out a barn-burner over your stacked Rice squad.
In the lower divisions, Frank Orlando's DCD team should make it to the regional final in DII (if the Yellowjackets can make it past a juggernaut Divine Child is yet to be seen) and if Southfield Christian can squeak past a skilled Lutheran Westland squad in a DIV regional semi-final, it should be smooth sailing for the Eagles into the next round.