Johannesburg-Lewiston Looking to Continue Historic Success
Matthew Doyle - MI Sports Now
JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston has consistently been ranked in the coaches’ state poll in Div. 4 this year, currently holding onto the No. 7 spot in this week’s rankings. The Cardinals have a chance to make program history as well.
They are currently tied for first place with Inland Lakes in the Ski Valley Conference. The Cardinals (15-2) only have one loss in conference play against Gaylord St. Mary.
If they can win the conference this year, it will be their first conference title since 2006, when their head coach Cody Proctor was a senior at Johannesburg-Lewiston. This season, the Cardinals are relying on their senior class to see how far they can take them.
“To the boys, (the state ranking) means a lot, but to us we just got to play every game. It doesn’t matter if you’re ranked No. 1 or at the bottom, you’ve got to play every game, the game in front of you to win,” Proctor said. “So that’s kind of the approach we take no matter who we’re playing or when we’re playing. So we are senior-heavy, we have a bunch of kids that played football for us and they’re in a winning class and they’re ready to compete and do big things as a senior class.”
J-L baseball sweeps Pellston in doubleheader
PELLSTON — The Johannesburg-Lewiston baseball team continued its hot start Friday with a double-header sweep over Pellston.
J-L powered its way to a 17-2 victory in Game 1, spurred on by seven runs in the first inning, to set the tone.
Sheldon Huff started the game on the mound, tossing 3 1/3 innings with six strikeouts. He allowed just one run in his strong start.
After piling on the seven runs in the opening inning, the Cardinals added an eighth run in the second, and then nine runs in the fourth and final inning.
Preston Marlatt led the Cardinals at the plate with two hits, one of which was a home run, three runs scored, three RBIs and two walks. Mason Myers added a hit, two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk.
Newell, Waltiere and Basinski also had two RBIs a piece for the Cardinals in Game 1.
The Cardinals also dominated on the base paths, with six players recording at least one steal in the game.
J-L also played the first game without committing an error, which helped the team stay off the field and in the batter’s box.
In Game 2, the Cardinals utilized their hot bats to storm ahead with an 11-4 victory.
J-L powered past the Hornets on the strength of an eight-run first inning, setting the tone for yet another decisive victory.
The Cardinals sprinkled three more runs throughout the next five innings, to take command of the six-inning game.
Huff led at the plate with two hits and four RBIs. Marlatt was strong again with two hits, three runs scored, and RBI and a walk. Waltiere also added two RBIs and three walks.
Myers was electric on the mound, tossing four shutout innings with nine strikeouts. Myers allowed just two hits and threw 41 of his 75 pitches for strikes i his dominant start.
Cardinals pitchers did have nine walks in Game 2, which helped allow the Hornets to score four late runs, but overall J-L controlled the doubleheader.
The Cardinals will look to carry this momentum on throughout the remainder of the season, while Pellston will look to quickly bounce back.
The Cardinals received a boost when Sheldon Huff was cleared to play. Huff returned towards the end of the basketball season, after suffering a knee injury in football. Huff provides the Cardinals with a top-tier arm on the mound and some more senior leadership.
Huff and fellow seniors Tommy Runyan, Mason Myers and Lucas Newell, as well as junior Preston Marlatt appear poised to lead J-L this season.
The Cardinals play in the Ski Valley Conference, where they project to finish among the top contenders this season.
“I’m expecting big things out of all of (the players)," Cardinals head coach Cody Proctor said. "Mason and Sheldon were really strong as sophomores, and I’m excited to see what Sheldon and Mason can do on the mound as a righty-lefty one-two punch. I'm excited Sheldon can play battling that knee injury. He’s going to have a great year.”
Like all teams throughout Michigan, the Cardinals have benefited from great early-spring weather, which has allowed teams the ability to practice outdoors.
“Practice has been super busy because we’ve never been able to practice outside this early," Proctor said. "It’s been awesome. I’ve not coached baseball that long, but I played here and I cannot remember the last time we had weather like this. It’s been different for me, because we usually have to practice inside and can’t do everything I want to do. We were able to get outside right away and I had to pump the breaks and still do some fundamental stuff.
“The last couple years when we’ve played our tournament at Ovid-Elsie, its been the first time we’ve stepped on a diamond. Fly-ball practice usually doesn’t even happen up here until the first game. We’ve been able to practice that and base running much more to give the players a true baseball feel by being on the field so early. It’s been great. We’ve been practicing almost three hours every day because that’s what the players want.”
Proctor is excited to be out on the field, getting his players ready for the season.
"To me, baseball is a sport that involves a pretty high skill level," he said. "I enjoy watching how they develop, and how they go from freshmen to the end of their careers. It's a big momentum-type sport. We had a pretty good run a couple years ago. For me it’s the skill level. The players have to display a high level to be successful. Baseball is also a mental game."
J-L Baseball 2020 Season - Cancelled