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Sterling Heights

April 16, 2014

Pitching to be key for Utica Ford II baseball

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The Utica Ford II baseball team will rely on its pitching this season, according to coach Derek Ganfield. Pictured is Falcons senior pitcher Ja’Won Vaughn during an April 9 game against Clinton Township Chippewa Valley.

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Utica Ford II baseball coach Derek Ganfield said he’s looking for senior pitchers Jordan Luzod and Ja’Won Vaughn to lead the Falcons this season.

Ganfield, whose team sat at 2-0 at press time, said if his senior hurlers — along with sophomore pitchers Pierce Banks and Kevin Larch — have solid campaigns, the team should be in good shape.

“(Luzod and Vaughn) will be our two big pitchers this year,” Ganfield said April 9. “Then we’ve got some crafty guys who’ve come up from last year’s JV team who will fill in. Hopefully, we get some good innings out of them.”

Ganfield said Ford II hitters must step up at the plate and provide Falcons pitching with some insurance each game. He said the team might look to play some small ball, emphasizing timely hitting and smart base running to manufacture runs.

Luzod said he’s relishing his new role, adding that the team had a long winter, filled with mostly indoor practices. He said the team is ready to get in the swing of things, with Vaughn and himself at the helm.

“I think that when (Ganfield) called me up to varsity two years ago as a sophomore, he was hoping I’d be ready to step into a leadership role by now,” said Luzod, a member of a district title-winning team as a sophomore. “I think we have a good group of senior leaders. It’s important to keep a good attitude and work ethic on and off the field to show the underclassmen how things are done.”

Luzod said he wants to win another district title. The senior pitcher also is eyeing a Macomb Area Conference White Division championship, which the team hasn’t won in some time. Ford’s best finishes recently came in 2004 and 2005, when the team came in second place in each of those seasons.

Ganfield, whose team went 6-21 overall and 1-9 in the White last season, said the league would be tough and that it’s always up for grabs. The league has had four different champions in the last four seasons.

“Usually, it comes down to the last game of the season,” Ganfield said. “If Team A beats Team B, then Team C has a shot at (winning a division title). There’s a lot of parity in our league.

“We won our first game, which hasn’t happened in a while. Hopefully, we can keep it up and build some momentum.”

Ford II plays St. Clair High at 4:30 p.m. April 16 at St. Clair.