By Sean Budlong
The Schoolcraft Eagles baseball team had to overcome more than its opponents on its way to a #5 State ranking. It also had to overcome weather that forced cancellation of seven different game dates. In an already short high school baseball season, this creates issues with pitching (limited innings per week) and generating momentum (too many days between hitting off of live pitching). Schoolcraft managed to finish the regular season with a 17-8 record – and the Co-Conference championship.
Schoolcraft heads into district play with victories in four out of its last five games, and the confidence that comes with fielding a deep and talented squad. The Eagles’ pitching staff is among the best in the State in Division 3. Ricky Clark, Blake Bales, Darren Kehoe, and Cameron Faulk are just a few of the impact pitchers. Head Coach Larry Phelps is able to bring in a pitcher from the bench or from another position to create a mismatch in almost any situation.
The defense has been outstanding for most of the season. For the Eagles, it starts behind the plate with Caleb Anspaugh. Caleb’s quickness keeps opponents from getting a jump on balls that might get by other catchers, while his arm strength cuts down those who attempt to take the extra base. The infield duo of Clark and Max Kulczyk are able to cover into the outfield, which allows the speed of outfielders like Nolan Anspaugh and Carlos Andino to play deep enough to keep the rest of the balls in front of them.
Offensively, the Eagles just don’t have any holes in the line-up. Whether it’s Anspaugh turning a single into a double with his speed or Collin Tone reaching the fence, Schoolcraft has shown the ability to get clutch hits and generate runs from anywhere in the batting order.
Schoolcraft was knocked out of the state playoffs last season by Jackson Lumen Christi in the quarterfinals. This year’s Eagles team has played a difficult schedule to prepare for a long playoff run. It began with a 17-1 victory over Galesburg Augusta. The Eagles now face Constantine on June 3 in the District Semifinals.