Division 3 Team Of The Week: Week 5 - Standish Sterling

Bruce Hefflinger and Dylan Hefflinger
PBR Michigan Senior Writer and Editor in Chief/Scout


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Division 3 Team Of The Week: Week 5 - Standish Sterling

STANDISH - After a slow start to the season, Standish Sterling is riding a 10-game winning streak in earning accolades as the Prep Baseball Report Division 3 Team of the Week.

Four recent wins over Division 1 teams is what stands out to head coach Ryan Raymond, whose Panthers defeated Mount Pleasant 8-6 and Midland Dow (a state semifinalist a year ago) 16-15 during the Dow Tournament and also swept Saginaw Heritage 8-1, 7-2 on Wednesday and Millington 17-4, 11-1 on Friday.

“Overall, we’re pretty mentally tough,” explained Raymond, whose team entered this week with a 14-4 recored. “We’ve not played defensively as well as we can but we just keep fighting. We have a good group of seniors that keeps fighting and picking each other up and we’ve gotten progressively better.”

Cole Prout is the leader of Standish Sterling, drawing raves from his head coach.

“I played D-I college baseball at Detroit in the late 80s and 90s and have never seen anyone hit the ball like Cole, and that includes college,” Raymond said of the Central Michigan commit. “His plate presence is hard to describe. Either he walks or laces something 80 percent of the time.”

A leadoff hitter who plays center, the fourth-rated senior outfielder in the state is averaging .480 with an on-base percentage of .770.

Five other seniors are major contributors to the success at Standish Sterling, including Addison Vallad and Chase Raymond. Vallad, who hits in the two-hole, is the number one pitcher who can play anywhere on the field when not on the mound, according to his head coach. Raymond, the son of the Standish Sterling mentor who is headed to play at Saginaw Valley, has 28 RBIs in 18 games batting third in the lineup. An outfielder/third baseman who plays anywhere but catcher, Raymond is also hopeful of helping at pitcher after logging 60 innings with 119 Ks a year ago but seeing limited time there this spring.

“We only have 12 on the team so more of our players need to be versatile,” related the Standish Sterling head coach. “We have a very, very strong JV team right now and we’ve pulled up several players this year that have contributed.”

Brett Bartlett, Charlie Kolbiaz and Matt Yealey are other seniors that have been valuable, Bartlett at shortstop, Kolbiaz - “the hottest hitter of late, in the .420 area” - at catcher and second base, and defensive standout Yealey at first base.

“Leadership. confidence and togetherness,” Raymond said about what his six seniors bring to the team. “We didn’t start this season with a team motto, but now it’s ‘gritty’. That’s what we are. It represents the six seniors.”

The recent success on the field came after losing a conference game to Bullock Creek.

“We played poorly,” Raymond reflected. “I was embarrassed with our performance. But we’ve been rock solid since then.”

However, the sixth-year head coach is still looking for more out of his squad, which dropped down from D2 to D3 this season.

“We’re still not playing like we can,” Raymond said. “Defensively we need to get better, make all the routine plays and stay healthy.”

A regular-season tournament at Sanford Meridian is on tap Saturday for a program longing for post-season success.

“It’s been a super long time since we’ve made it past the quarterfinals,” pointed out Raymond, whose team made it that far in 2018 and 2016. “It’s been since the early 70s that we made it to the semifinals.”

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