CARSON CITY — The Carson City-Crystal baseball team will be playing its final season in The Central Michigan Athletic Conference this spring and will be doing so with seven returning starters.
The Eagles will join the Mid-State Activities Conference in the fall, but will be looking to go out on a winning note in the CMAC.
“We return seven of nine starters from a team that was two outs away from upsetting Shepherd in the district semifinals a season ago,” Eagles coach Travis Wilcox said. “Returning as many key players that we have as well as several others who have spent all offseason working on their game has definitely showed through the first few weeks of the season.”
The Eagles began the season with a pair of 7-1 wins over Ashley on Thursday. They return to action on April 11 when they host Morrice.
Returning for the Eagles include seniors Nathan LaVictor, Jack Powers and Eric Ward; juniors Caleb Geselman and Lucas Ratu and sophomores Garner Cusack and Spencer Harwood.
Gone are Mike Grimwood — now playing at Concordia University — and Jeremy Burnham — all-conference last year.
“We have a great nucleus of players who really enjoy being around one another and always make the best of every situation,” Wilcox said. “We are also a gritty group and I feel that our grittiness is going to be something that will help us win many close ballgames this year.
“LaVictor, Powers and Ward are all seniors who can provide leadership to our young team, as well as Garner Cusack, who is a natural leader,” he added.
Carson City-Crystal went 6-24-1 overall last year and 5-12-1 in the league.
This winter the team has been focusing on improving their hitting. Only three Eagles batted above .300 a year ago.
“Our kids have made a huge commitment to the batting tee throughout the winter,” Wilcox said. “If we can continue to translate our good mechanics from the tee to the batters box, we should be in good shape.
“We also have some young pitching arms, as we are very high on them, but we also understand that we have room to grow in that area as well,” he added.
The Eagles are looking to compete for a league title and win a district title for the first time since 1996 this year.
“We fully expect to compete for a spot in the top half of our conference and if we can stay healthy and catch a few breaks, hopefully compete for a league title,” Wilcox said. “Placing in the top six of our league is a huge goal for us. The top six teams advance to the CMAC tournament following the regular season.”
The CMAC tournament is being held under the lights at Municipal Field in Lansing.
Wilcox said the CMAC is one of the toughest Class C and D conferences in the state.
“Pewamo-Westphalia and Portland St. Patrick return a solid nucleus of players that finished second and third in the conference last year,” he said. “Bath loses six of nine started, but return two of their top three arms, including two-time all-stater Nick Stiles. The rest of the pack is pretty wide open.”
The Eagles first league game will be April 12 when they host Saranac.