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Friday, May 13, 2011

Attention Laker alumni: This game is for you

PIGEON — More than 20 years after his football playing days at Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port High School were over, Eric Buschlen got a crazy idea.
How about suiting up once again?
“When I realized that I could play football again as a Laker and help enhance the future of the program, I pounced,” Buschlen, a 1989 Laker graduate, said.
With the help of Vassar’s Bill Germain, Buschlen has set up a benefit alumni football game between the Lakers and Vulcans, slated for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6.
All of the proceeds from the game will go toward the Vassar and EPBP football programs.
What Buschlen now needs is other former players to join him on the field that night.
“This has been a pretty long process,” he explained. “I have been working on this since the spring of 2009. The Laker school board approved it in October of 2010.
“We had some great games with Vassar and I am excited to be able to mix it up with them again, but also do it for a cause that I believe in — the future of Laker football. It’s really a win-win.”
The game will be full-contact with referees. To be eligible to play, alumni must be out of school for three years (2007 or older). And, you do not need to be a former football player to participate.
“Many schools in the southern Thumb area like Mayville, Deckerville, North Branch and Imlay City already have alumni teams in place,” Buschlen said. “We are starting from scratch to field an alumni team. So, we really need some people to turn out for this. Laker football has had some incredible teams over the decades and it will be great to play with former players — recent ones and older ones, too.”
Buschlen said EPBP will have two tiers of alumni — players and VIP alumni. Both tiers will pay an entry fee, but the players will pay more for the equipment rental. The VIP alumni will not play on game day, but will get free admission to the game and a sideline pass. Both groups will get a commemorative jersey in the number of their choice.
Equipment will be given out the day before and collected the day after the game. Players who wish to “start” on either side of the ball must attend the practices. However, all players will ultimately receive equal playing time. A liability waiver also has to be signed.
Buschlen said alumni pay to play, and with 50 paid alumni the school could net up to $5,000. This number is based on the amount collected through player and gate fees, less the cost of the commemorative jersey.
“We will charge $5 per person (children under 10 get in free) at the gate,” he said. “This entry fee is split 70/30 between the teams, with the larger portion going to the home team.
“I work in higher education, and I know that the state makes deep cuts each year in education. For us to be able to raise $5,000 or more for the team is an amazing opportunity.”
Each program has slightly different fees for playing. Buschlen said to contact the specific coordinators for more information.
For the Lakers, contact Buschlen at (989) 860-7692 or
For the Vulcans, contact Germain at (989) 233-7755 or
The Laker Alumni Association also is helping to promote the event. The forms for Laker alumni can be found online at

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Warriors capture county baseball crown

Adams covered this past weekend's county baseball tournament...

BAD AXE — It’s not unusual to see a Dhyse dominating on the mound for North Huron.
During Saturday’s championship game of the Huron Daily Tribune/Huron County Baseball Tournament, a Dhyse was dealing, keeping Harbor Beach batters off balance all afternoon.
It just happened to be Evan Dhyse, the younger brother of the Warriors’ ace Erik Dhyse.
Due to the nature of tournament play, teams rarely use their top pitchers, but North Huron didn’t miss a beat. Dhyse scattered five hits, allowed one unearned run and struck out six as he helped lead the Warriors to a 2-1 victory. It’s their fourth title in five years. 
“I have a lot of confidence in Evan,” said North Huron coach Travis Fischer. “He’s a solid pitcher. He pitches to contact, he works the corners, he’s a great, great baseball player.”
Dhyse followed up another strong pitching performance from Kyle Case, who also tossed a five-hitter in an 8-0 victory over Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port in the semifinals.
“For a freshman to step up and pitch like that in the first game, that’s a great day for that kid,” Fischer said. “He’s got a bright future ahead.”
Harbor Beach’s ace is Jason Hanson, who didn’t pitch either. The Pirates still got a great performance, though. 
Sean Murawske took the hill, scattered just three hits and did all he could to keep his team in the game.
“Murawske pitched a great ball game against us,” Fischer said.
Harbor Beach got on the board first in the top of the fourth as Hanson hit a high fly ball to center field, but Dillon Newell lost it in the sun, allowing Hanson to reach second.
Sean Sorenson drove Hanson home with a single.
Newell made up for the miscue in the bottom of the frame.
Erik Dhyse reached after getting hit by a pitch, and got to second on a passed ball. Newell tied the game on a deep double to left center that nearly left the park.
It was the first of three straight hits for the Warriors.
Kevin Rice put North Huron up with a sharp single.
“He came back the next inning and delivered for us,” Fischer said about Newell. “That’s baseball. You can’t get down, there’s always a chance to redeem yourself. It’s a game of failure, you have to be able to deal with it. Our guys are a pretty experienced group. Today, they played for each other and did the little things you need to do to win games.”
Murawske settled down for the rest of the game as he didn’t allow a baserunner.
Harbor Beach had a chance to tie the game in the top of the sixth after Scott Grekowicz led off with a walk. He stole second and reach third with one out on a fielder’s choice.
But some strong play from Tony Murawski in right field prevented the run from scoring. He secured the final two outs, including a nifty catch off the bat of Hanson that nearly handcuffed him.
“If I could pick an MVP, it would be Tony Murawski,” Fischer said. “He made some huge plays. He did a great job for us today.”
Harbor Beach made it interesting in the top of the seventh.
Kenny Arntz led off with a single and stole second. He was moved over to third on a base hit from Jeremy Hanson.
With no outs, Arntz was thrown out at home after attempting to score on an error.
Dhyse struck out Justin Lasceski and got Murawske to fly out to right to end the game.
“They beat us three times last year, so I was looking to win one,” Fischer said. “They’re a well-coached, good baseball team, so that was a big win for us.
“It gives you confidence. After losing to them last year, now we know we can beat them.”
Since the Huron County Tournament started in 1977, no team has ever won four titles in five years.
Fischer talked about his predecessor, Steve Schmidt.
“Steve Schmidt set the table and established a good program and we’ve been able to keep it going,” he said. Hopefully, we can make a little noise at the end of the year.
“It’s huge for our school. It’s good for us, it’s good for the boys, they get bragging rights now. Some young kids got some experience, so hopefully, we can carry that into next year and keep this run going.
“Every win in is a good win, but this was a good day for us. It was an important day for our program.”
In the other semifinal, Harbor Beach survived a nearly three-hour contest with Bad Axe to hold on for a 14-10 victory.
The Hatchets rallied from being down 9-3 to take a 10-9 lead, but couldn’t hang on.

2011: North Huron def. Harbor Beach (2-1)
2010: Harbor Beach def. Bad Axe (9-7)
2009: North Huron def. Bad Axe (17-3)
2008: North Huron def. Harbor Beach (13-3)
2007: North Huron def. Ubly (5-4)
2006: Harbor Beach def. Ubly (5-4)
2005: Bad Axe def. North Huron (7-3)
2004: Bad Axe def. Ubly (3-1)
2003: Ubly def. Harbor Beach (6-5)
2002: Owen-Gage def. EPBP (18-11)
2001: Owen-Gage def. EPBP (10-7)
2000: Bad Axe def. EPBP (14-10)
1999: Bad Axe def. Harbor Beach (21-6)
1998: EPBP def. Bad Axe (2-0)
1997: Bad Axe def. EPBP (3-2)
1996: Ubly def. EPBP (3-2)
1995: EPBP def. Ubly (5-1)
1994: Bad Axe def. Ubly (8-5)
1993: Bad Axe def. Ubly (9-8)
1992: EPBP def. Bad Axe (11-10)
1991: Bad Axe def. North Huron (9-5)
1990: EPBP def. Bad Axe (9-8)
1989: Bad Axe def. EPBP (12-8)
1988: Bad Axe def. Harbor Beach (1-0)
1987: Ubly def. Caseville (6-2)
1986: Caseville def. EPBP (31-13)
1985: Bad Axe def. Ubly (6-5)
1984: North Huron def. EPBP (9-5)
1983: North Huron def. EPBP (9-0)
1982: Ubly def. Deckerville (13-6)
1981: Bad Axe def. North Huron (4-3)
1980: Bad Axe def. EPBP (2-1)
1979: Harbor Beach def. EPBP (6-1)
1978: Bad Axe def. Caseville (6-2)
1977: EPBP def. Bad Axe (7-6)

The North Huron baseball team poses after winning its fourth Huron Daily Tribune/Huron County Tournament championship in five years on Saturday in Bad Axe. The Warriors defeated Harbor Beach, 2-1, in the title game. 

Lakers win county softball title again

BAD AXE — Even after his Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port team yielded the game-tying run in the top of the seventh inning to Bad Axe, Eric Wissner wasn’t worried.
He knew his heavy hitters were on deck.
Wissner and the Lakers needed just four batters to plate the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning in the championship game of the Huron Daily Tribune/Huron County Softball Tournament here Friday night. Lead-off hitter Brooklyn Foy walked, followed by an Erin Albrecht single and a Justine Swartzendruber sacrifice. That set the stage for cleanup hitter Ashley Richmond, who hit a hard ground ball to third base. Bad Axe’s Taylor Braun snagged the hot shot, but Foy beat the throw home, capping the Lakers’ exciting 8-7 victory over the Hatchets and giving them their second straight county title.
“Of course, we didn’t want to give up that run in the top of the seventh, but we were OK with giving up one run to tie it,” Wissner explained. “We were in a perfect spot. We had the top of the order coming up in our half of the seventh. We’re pretty confident in that spot we could score a run.”
And Foy never hesitated in going home on the crack of the bat from Richmond.
“That’s a contact play,” Wissner said. “We were just trying to chop the ball on the ground. When you have Brooklyn Foy on third — one of the fastest girls around — I will take my chances with that.
“And the third baseman was playing a little deep, so that helped, too.”
The sequence capped a wild game, with each team having their difficulties on defense. In fact, the Hatchets took advantage of a pair of EPBP errors in the top of the seventh to score the tying run. Braun, who was safe on an error to lead off the frame, scored when Brooke Robarge reached on an error. In between, Alyssa Kociba singled and Emily Sisco sacrificed.
“We’ve been better defensively the last couple of games, but tonight we just had some trouble,” Wissner said. “We have some new players in some new spots and we’re having some trouble communicating.”
EPBP scored first, but then rallied from a three-run deficit.
The Lakers took a 1-0 lead in the opening inning on a walk to Foy, a single from Albrecht and a pair of sacrifices from Swartzendruber and Richmond.
The Hatchets tied it in the top of the second on a double from Amanda Gentner, followed by an EPBP throwing error when Tori Orban flied deep to centerfield.
Bad Axe once again took advantage of poor EPBP defense to plate three runs in the third. Singles from Braun and Kociba, two errors and a hit batter gave the Hatchets a 4-1 advantage.
The Lakers regained the lead at 5-4 with a four-run fourth inning, highlighted by a three-run triple from Albrecht. Swartzendruber added an RBI single while Richmond, Kayla Deering and Kayla Blunt all had singles in the frame.
EPBP took a 7-4 lead in the fifth, capped by an RBI single from Foy and an RBI groundout from Albrecht.
Bad Axe got those two runs back in the top of the sixth. Gentner singled and Robarge reached on another Laker error before Julia Geiger drove them home with a double.
EPBP wasted a chance in its half of the sixth after three straight walks. But Robarge, who relieved Sisco in the fifth, got a pop out and a strikeout to wiggle out of the jam.
That set up the exciting final inning of play.
Wissner believes there is a correlation between his team’s struggles on defense, the shabby early spring weather and the movement of the pitcher’s mound. This season, high school softball pitchers now stand 43 feet (instead of 40 feet) from the plate, just like college pitchers. The new rule was approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations last year and adopted this season by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
Last year, Albrecht had over 300 strikeouts for the Lakers, averaging right around 12 per game. She did fan nine Hatchets here Friday night, but the EPBP ace’s strikeout totals are significantly down from last season.
“Across the board, strikeouts are down,” Wissner said. “And that’s putting the pressure on the defense. And that gives them the opportunity to make more mistakes.
“And nobody is in a rhythm yet, especially on defense, because nobody has been able to get outside because of the cold weather.”
The Lakers hope to find their rhythm next week with doubleheaders against Saginaw Nouvel and Bay City All Saints. They also travel to Saginaw for a tournament next Saturday.
“We’re still trying to put some things together,” Wissner said. “Hopefully, next week, we can get some games in. Except for games, I think we’ve had just five practices outside. You really can’t work on defensive stuff in the gym.”
EPBP got to the finals with a 12-4 victory over North Huron in Friday’s first game. The Warriors actually led at one point early on, but the Lakers had a big push in the middle innings to put the game away.

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port players and coaches are all smiles after capturing their second straight Huron Daily Tribune/Huron County Softball Tournament title on Friday night. The Lakers beat Bad Axe, 8-7, in the finals.