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Haslett varsity baseball swinging into the season

Senior Luke Sleeper mid-pitch in the 2015 season against East Lansing.

Photo: Yearbook

Senior Luke Sleeper mid-pitch in the 2015 season against East Lansing.

Story: Hunter Dawson, Staff Writer

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The 2016 varsity baseball team is looking to redeem itself after losing at Districts to Fowlerville last season. According to senior Luke Sleeper, the team struggled last year due to lacking fundamentals.
“It was just kinda small things, we didn’t really do the small things all that much (and) we never really played well,” Sleeper said.
By improving on fundamentals, this team is looking to win more games this season utilizing their speed and defensive strengths, rather than relying on big hits. By doing so, the team should be able to be more consistent and win more games.
Q: The team’s past success, how are you hoping to replicate it?
Luke Sleeper: “We are hoping to win Districts and win our league, but we haven’t been able to capitalize on our talent. The last couple of years we haven’t been able to get out of Districts. We just want to be able to maximize it this year.”
Stephen Fox: “I think we have a good chance at winning Districts and I’d like to repeat the success of last year.”
Matthew Stephon: “I’d say we have less power like batting wise than years past, but I feel like pitching and fielding are what we are concentrating on. The little things are huge, doing all the little things.”
Fox: “I think if we focus on the little things and we try and we do our best every game I think we will have a lot of success.”
Stephon: “I would like to better it (last year’s season), last year we lost in Districts, when we should have won.”
Q: Where does your team excel i.e. pitching, hitting, fielding?
Sleeper: “We are pretty good in pitching, and then we have solid defense usually. We usually do the little things on offense, bunt, steal, stuff like that. We have never really been a power hitting team, we don’t score runs much.”
Fox: “It’s kinda hard to say because we have had one practice so far so I can’t give a good read on you. But I think we will be a pretty good fielding team.”
Stephon: “ Yeah, pretty strong in the field obviously with Luke.”
Fox: “Yeah, we have a very good pitcher in Luke (Sleeper).”
Stephon: “Luke and Hunter (Ruhstorfer) are pretty good pitchers.”
Q: What has caused you guys to excel in those areas?
Paul Fiorillo: “Probably just working hard, like yesterday we had a three hour practice.”
Q: You say you have strong seniors with Luke and Hunter. Do you have any strong younglings coming up?
Stephon: “We have a sophomore Hayden Garrett. He was on the team last year as a freshman, and put up some really good numbers, and I think he (might) be starting this year. If he can re-create what he did last year or maybe even (get) better he’d be a huge lift.”Hunter
Q: Who are the leaders on your team?
Sleeper: “Most of the seniors or the guys that have been on varsity a while.”
Fiorillo: “Luke Sleeper, Hunter Ruhstorfer, Cullen Turner.”
Fox: “I’d say Luke.”
Stephon: “Hunter probably.”
Fox: “Luke and Hunter I would say.”
Stephon: “Cullen too. It’s really their team, (since) they have been on varsity the longest.”
Q: Why are they the leaders?
Fiorillo: “They lead by example mostly, (it) helps that they are some of the best players.”
Fox: “I think they kinda lead by example, they let everyone else know what is going on and what to do.”
Stephon: “Yeah they are coming back, but they also have put the numbers up in years past to back up their leadership.”
Q: What are you hoping to do this year? What is your vision for the season?
Sleeper: “Bring more intensity when it come to the games, stay focused and just take it inning by inning. Try to win as many games as possible, hopefully at least 20 wins, that’s usually the benchmark of a good season.“
Fiorillo: “(I) want to get better, become a better pitcher, throw harder.”
Stephon: “Winning the District is huge for me. Because coming so close last year and if you ask any of us we all think we should have won, we should have played better and own that game.”
Fox: “I would also like to win the (CAAC) Red conference too.”
Stephon: “Winning the conference would be huge with DeWitt and St John’s both having (great teams). What they have it would be a big deal for us to win the conference.”
Fox: “Making a run in the Diamond Classic.”
Stephon: “They have a committee that chooses the teams and last year we did alright, but I’d really like to win that.”
Q: What is the Diamond Classic?
Fox: “It’s a tournament of the best teams in the area.”
Stephon: “Of all sizes, from small schools like Portland Saint (Patrick Catholic school), up to Holt and Grand Ledge. It’s really about bringing everyone together and kinda just seeing who is the best without having to go through the Districts.”
Fox: “If you win it (the Diamond Classic) you can say (that) you are the big dog in the area and that’s why Grand Ledge is so prestigious because they have won it a lot.”

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Haslett varsity baseball swinging into the season