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Burney's Bites will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2009 Diamond Forecast

Over the past few seasons, Oakland County has re-emerged as a hot bed for local baseball talent. Its been such a treat to witness this recent groundswell of prep skill and accomplished on the baseball diamond and I hope all you high school sports fiends have taken notice. The last two Division I state champs have came out of the OC - county powers Lake Orion and Farmington squared off in the 2007 final and last year the OC had two representatives in the Division I final four.  This new era of diamond gems has a good shot at eventually being compared to the county's roster of all-time greats, the majority of which played in the area back in the 1960's and 70's and include the likes of former MLB All-Stars Kirk Gibson (Waterford Kettering), Bob Welch (Hazel Park), Steve Howe (Clarkston), and Ted Simmons (Southfield). Lets take a look at what will be going down in 2009!

The best of the best, both in terms of elite teams and players reside on Lahser Road between 14 and 15 Mile Road at Birmingham Brother Rice. The defending Division I state champion Warriors are a surefire force to be reckoned with on both the state and national level, returning eight of nine starters from 2008. And its only natural that the best player in the state of Michigan should come from its best team and that is definitely the case this year with mega-prospect Matt Conway, a 6-6 left handed power hitting phenom who has signed to play ball next season at Wake Forest in the ultra-competitive ACC and will probably be drafted by the majors in June. Conway, also the team's number one pitcher, is a blue chipper all the way, with a lethal, yet still silky smooth swing at the plate and a modest demeanor that carries over to his teammates. Augmenting the Warriors' big clipper is a stellar cast of veteran ball players that will make it difficult for Rice to not be playing for another state title in Battle Creek in a little under two months. Derek Kilmer and Brian Kurazawa are able arms to back Conway up on the mound and Alex Charles, Steve Hodgins, and Pat MacKenzie have the heavy bats to keep opposing pitchers always on their toes. I have the sneaking suspicion that Rice is on the fast track to pulling off the much-daunting repeat.

The Rest of the Best:

Rochester Hills Adams  - MSU recruit Andrew Waszak is arguably the best hurler in the county. Dominating velocity and killer change of speed pitches make Waszak, the number one in the state ranked Highlanders football team last fall, a bona fide ace. Underclassmen, Nick Druzinski, Kyle Casadei, and T.J. Trouba dot the Adams batting line-up and can all shred at the plate, each having the ability to hit for power and average.

Troy - Lost three starters from last years final four team, but the Colts are still for real and once head coach Frank De Vito gets his troops acclimated, they are sure to make some noise. Top pitcher James Andrezjewski and hard hitting Chris Gebara pace the Troy attack.

Lakeland - Ricky Samuel could be the best player in the county not named Matt Conway. Heading to play at Uof M next year, Samuel has an eye in the box like few other the area has seen in quite some time. All-purpose Eagle athletes Brett Burmeister and Blake Heiman, are 3-year varsity players that want to go out on top in their senior years, after falling to Rice in blow out fashion in the 2008 regionals.

Burney's Other Top Players:

Mike Theodore, DCD - this Yellowjackets speedballer is one of the best pitchers in the state and proved it by accepting a scholarship to play in the SCC next year at Tennessee.

Korey Hall, Orchard Lake St. Mary - lightening fast outfielder who blazes on the base paths and hits a ton

Andy Tinkey, Walled Lake Northern - One of the great young arms in the state, descending on the MSU program next year with fellow OC ace Waszak.


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