By: John Raffel
Midland Dow expects to have another strong baseball team
Rich Juday is he Head Varsity Baseball Coach for Midland Dow in the Saginaw Valley League
-The Dow High Baseball Team compiled a 24-12 season record in 2018 and a 4th place finish in the tough Saginaw Valley League. There were many big wins over ranked opponents (Saginaw Heritage, Mt. Pleasant, Midland, and Swan Valley). Dow was able to improve on a 19-17 record from 2017 and show that they are an up and coming program. Dow only loses 4 starters to graduation from the 2018 season and is looking forward to being one of the top teams in the Saginaw Valley League.
Key athletes that have graduated from last season’s team and their contribution to the program.
-Connor Moe, Connor was the ace of last season’s pitching staff with a 5-3 record. He also was a key to the offensive lineup playing left field when he was not pitching. Connor went toe to toe in a great pitcher’s dual with Saginaw Heritage’s Spencer Schwellenbach (currently on Nebraska’s roster) losing 1-0 in a shortened game due to darkness. Connor was a 3 year starter for Dow High and is currently continuing his baseball career at Delta Community College.
-Caden Skinner, Caden led the team in saves with 6 and also batted 3rd in our lineup. Caden led the league in hit by pitch with 28 and led the team in stolen bases with 16. Caden was a 3 year starter at Dow High.
-Zachary Nelson, Zach Nelson was a 3 year starter at Dow High anchoring the middle infield with play at shortstop and 2nd base during high school career. Zach batted .380 and batted 2nd in our lineup.
-Andrew Kozerski, Andrew was a 3 year starter at Dow High and was the starting Centerfielder. Andrew batted .355 last year and was very successful batting in the middle of our lineup. Andrew had 15 stolen bases last season and scored 32 runs. Andrew is the only Dow High Baseball Player in history to be named Team Captain for two years
Key players for the 2019 season
-Avain Rivera (Junior 5’10” 205lb LF, P) Avain led Dow High in almost all offensive categories as a Sophomore last year with a .500 average, 3HR, 48 RBI. He batted in the cleanup position last year and will fill that spot this season as well. Avain has made a strong effort to continue to improve his game and we look forward to a very strong offensive season in 2019. Avain spent most of the 2018 season at 3rd base and will move to the outfield this year. Avain is in his 3rd year as a starter for the Dow High Varsity.
-Shane Juday (Junior 6’ 2” 190lb SS) Shane is in his 3rd year as a starter for the Dow High Varsity and this will be his 2nd as the starting shortstop. Shane was our leadoff hitter in 2018 and led the team in runs scored with 43 and had an OBP of .504. Shane also had 10 stolen bases batted .355 with 1 HR and 25 RBI. Shane was voted top defensive player by his teammates last year and has shown improvement in arm strength and hitting power. He will bat in our third slot in the batting order and set the table for Avain.
-Jacob Stone (Senior 6’7” 220lbs P, 1B) Jacob is our top returning pitcher from the 2018 season compiling a 4-2 record with 26 K’s only walking 19 batters. Jacob has really worked on his command of off speed pitches and his velocity on his fastball this off season and is throwing in the high 80’s. Jacob completed 28 innings on the mound last year and will play some 1b for us when he is not pitching.
-Lane Peters (Senior 6’1” 215lbs P, IB) Lane finished last season with a 4-3 record and led the pitching staff in strikeouts with 30. He is strong from the left side of the hill and has worked on his control in the off season. Lane completed 30 innings on the mound last season and will play some 1b when he is not pitching.
-Michael Erickson (Senior 6’1”180lbs C, 3B) Michael is in his 3rd season as a starting catcher for Dow High. He handles a pitching staff like a pitching coach and calls a great game. Michael is solid defensively and blocks as good as any catcher I have seen. Michael threw out 42% of runners trying to steal in the 2018 season. Michael batted .287 with 23 RBI last season and will be a strong part of our lineup this season. Michael also pitches and will play some 3B when he is not catching.
-Dexter Guentensberger (Senior 6’1”205lbs C, DH) Dex is in his 3rd season as a starting catcher for Dow High and will continue to split duties with Michael Erickson. Dexter is very gifted defensively with a strong arm that cut down 55% of runners trying to take a base. Dex hit .362 with 15 RBI last year and was a clutch hitter in big games driving in the winning run vs. Midland High (2018 State Semifinalists). Dex will also pitch and play multiple positions when he is not catching. He is a player that we must have in the lineup when he is not catching.
"We expect to continue to improve in all facets of the game this season which should also improve our record and give us an opportunity to compete for the Saginaw Valley League North Championship and run deep in the tournament. We have several players that are in their 3rd season of varsity play and we are still quite young. These players now expect to win and have the experience to handle adversity.
'The 2019 Dow High Baseball Team should be strong offensively. We have the entire middle of the batting order returning from last year which includes our top two hitters in Rivera and Juday. Guentensberger and Erickson are also expected to add some pop to the lineup. The top of the order is being replaced with speedy players that will set the table for the middle of the order. We are replacing our entire starting outfield and defense is something we will continue to work on. Our approach on defense is to take what the opponent is giving us and not give them extra at bats. This will be something we will continue to work on."
Saginaw Valley League North
"This is the first year the SVL has split the conference into a South/North division. We will be playing in the North Division.
The North Division consists of: Bay City Western, Bay City Central, Bay City John Glenn, Midland, Midland Dow, Mount Pleasant, Saginaw Heritage, Saginaw Arthur Hill.
This league is very strong with 5 teams placing in the MHSAA top 20 at different times of the 2018 season. Midland High made it to East Lansing in Division 1 last year and Bay City John Glenn was a Regional Finalist in Division 2. As the 2019 season begins, Bay City Western returns the strongest team and is the team to beat. Dow High has improved and should be able to contend with the top of this league.