Prep Baseball Report

Division 3 Team Of The Week: 3rd Edition - Olivet

Bruce Hefflinger
Michigan Senior Writer

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Division 3 Team Of The Week: 3rd Edition - Olivet

OLIVET - A week that started with head coach Bill Whitely’s 700th victory ended in a championship at the Leslie Tournament on Saturday. In total there were six wins en route to being selected Prep Baseball Division 3 Team of the Week.

“Our experience from the last few years is helping,” Whitely said of winning close games during a 13-2 season to date, which included a 3-1 victory over Ionia, 3-2 and 6-4 wins over Portland on Friday, a 2-1 triumph over Onsted on Saturday and a 10-6 win against Leslie in the tourney title game. “We had 32 wins two years ago and 37 last year. Breading breads winning. We don’t panic when we get down.”

Junior Lalo Aguirre was the winning pitcher on Tuesday and had 12 strikeouts in the first-game win over Portland, giving up two runs in the first inning. Sophomore Trip Burkett had a save on Tuesday and was the victorious pitcher in the second game on Friday.

Junior Linkin LaPaugh came up big on Saturday against Onsted, throwing 82 pitches in a two-hitter, both coming in the first inning, while retiring 16 in a row at one point.

“We’ve had strong pitching out of our top three,” noted Whitely, whose staff is led by Aguire, Burkett and senior Jackson Sinclair. “Our defense is also strong, but our hitting is sporadic. We also have no depth, which is our achilles heel.”

Clutch hitting has been evident with junior Pat Priesman knocking in the go-ahead run against Olmsted on Saturday.

Bryce Wine, who had three hits against Portland, is a mainstay in the lineup. A second-team all-state performer a year ago as an infielder, the senior has moved to center field this season for a program that moved up from D-2 to D-3 this year.

“I firmly believe we were one kid away from a D-3 state championship last year,” said Whitely, whose team is ranked seventh in Michigan in Division 3 this season.

While winning has become the norm, the long-time head coach still admits to one surprise with this year’s squad.

“Our ability to come back has surprised me a little,” Whitely explained. “This is a resilient group, but to come back and do it so much is a little surprising.”

A doubleheader with Eaton Rapids is on tap this week as well as a non-league DH with Marshall.

“We’re in a tough district this year,” Whitely concluded. “We’ve got to be playing our best baseball at the end of the year like we were last year. We also need guys to swing the bats well.”

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