Schoolcraft Hopes Hoops Title Experience Feeds Another Deep Diamond Run

By Pam Shebest
Special for

April 26, 2022

SCHOOLCRAFT — Accompanied by fire trucks and greeted by friends and families, the Schoolcraft boys basketball team arrived back in town last month on a state basketball championship high.

Southwest CorridorBut several athletes did not have much time to celebrate.

Eight of those players are also on the Eagles baseball team, and coach Scott Muffley found his guys a bit behind schedule to start the season.

“I’m very excited for them, but one thing (the extended basketball season) did for us, we’re trying to build our pitch counts up with our pitchers and if we didn’t throw a lot during the wintertime, we’re kinda behind schedule,” he said.

“It does affect what we do on the mound and getting guys the number of reps.”

Two of those hoopsters, Luke Housler and first-team all-stater Tyler DeGroote, are the only seniors on a young baseball squad. Another, Eli DeVisser, is one of only two juniors, with Austin Jones.

“I’ve got some freshmen. I’ve got many, many, many sophomores, like two juniors and two seniors,” Muffley said.

On the plus side, “I’ve got a great group of guys, and they brought the love of the game back for me again.”

DeGroote, Housler and DeVisser were also on the baseball team that made the Division 3 Regional Finals last year in spite of starting the postseason with a losing record. The Eagles lost 4-0 to Pewamo-Westphalia in their Regional Final.

All three athletes said they hope to use that experience plus the hoops success to take the baseball team even farther.

With the Michigan weather impacting the schedule, the Eagles have played just four games so far, posting a 2-2 record after a Monday defeat at Paw Paw.

Schoolcraft baseball“We know how tight-knit the (basketball) team was,” Housler said. “There was a camaraderie with the team.

“I’m hoping to carry that team chemistry over (to baseball) with the eight guys from the basketball team. That’s what it takes to win a championship.”

Switching from the fast-paced basketball competition to baseball was not difficult, Housler said.

“Basketball is fast-paced, but I played baseball my whole life,” he said. “There’s a picture on the wall at my house of me holding a baseball when I was 2 years old.”

DeGroote said that even though a few of the eight did not see minutes in the championship basketball game, they still should help the baseball team based on their hoops experience.

Schoolcraft’s basketball run concluded with a 55-39 win over 2021 Division 3 champion Flint Beecher in the Semifinal, followed by a 59-49 victory over Menominee in the title game at Breslin Center.

“We all know how to win; we all know how to buy into something,” he said. “Maybe some of those kids didn’t get any minutes in the game, but they really helped us out in practice.

“That’s really what helps you go on, the kids who are willing to be there every day, even though they may not get any playing time.”

Muffley, who has coached for more than 20 years, skippered the Three Rivers baseball team before stepping down to spend time with his family.

He was also an MHSAA official and received a 20-year award three years ago, officiating football, baseball, basketball and softball.

His son, Jordyn Muffley, played in the minor leagues with the Tampa Bay Rays organization, and daughter Josie Muffley is the starting shortstop at Florida State. Both played at Portage Central.

“I stopped coaching for about five years to watch my kids grow,” he said. “That’s when I did a lot of officiating.”

Looking at this year’s team, Scott Muffley will rely heavily on returnees DeGroote, Housler and DeVisser to lead the team.

Schoolcraft baseball“All three are starters with the experience from the basketball team and winning a state championship,” Muffley said. “Eli was a sophomore last year and was one of the main contributors as far as batting average.”

DeVisser, a shortstop, agreed winning the basketball championship will help this spring.

“We know what it feels like to make it far into a tournament, so it gives us confidence,” he said. “It helps us once we get further into our season; it helps us play better because we don’t get as nervous because we made it far.”

Housler, who plays second base, is headed next to University of Tennessee, but not as an athlete.

“I just want to be a student,” he said. “It’s going to be weird without sports, but I’m excited. I’m ready to get out of state and go to a warmer area and experience a different culture.”

Muffley said Housler is “a very polite, mild-mannered kid.

“I’m really looking forward to what Luke’s going to do for us as a leader on the team.”

DeGroote, who pitches and plays first base, plans to play basketball and baseball at Division II Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo.

“Tyler brings a lot of leadership to the team, and he has a lot of athletic ability as well,” Muffley said.

The other five players making the transition from basketball to baseball are all sophomores: Bennett Ellison, Fischer Holmes, Colin Hotrum, Thomas Rutkoskie and Jaden VanderWiere.

Other sophomores are Easton Poulsen and Carsten Svoboda. The team’s freshmen are Gavin Hart, Gavin Knowlton, Ryley Bruner, Nyan Wonders and Ethan Goddard.

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Schoolcraft’s Eli DeVisser awaits a throw with Luke Housler (20) backing him up during Monday’s game against Paw Paw. (Middle) Clockwise from top left: Schoolcraft baseball coach Scott Muffley, Tyler Groote, DeVisser and Housler. (Below) DeGroote stretches to make the play at first. (Action photos by Stephanie Blentlinger/Lingering Memories Photography. Head shots by Pam Shebest.)

Record-Setter Prout Helps Pace Standish-Sterling's 2022 Semifinals Run

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 27, 2023

Standish-Sterling’s run to the 2022 Division 3 Semifinals was driven in part by a record-setting offense, including a pair of senior standouts who posted single-season and career highlights.

The Panthers made the team record book in four categories, topped by a record 28 triples over 42 games. They also were added for 371 RBI (fourth all-time), 425 runs (12th) and 414 hits.

Cole Prout tied the MHSAA record for runs scored in one season with 84 and set the record with 27 career triples over three seasons (with 2020 canceled due to COVID-19). His 13 triples in 2022 tied for third on that list, while Chase Raymond’s 10 tied for 11th. Prout also tied for 12th all-time with 182 career runs, while Raymond is eighth on the single-season RBI list with 77 over 42 games in 2022 and earned a career RBI entry with 140.

Prout plays now at Central Michigan, and Raymond is playing at Saginaw Valley State.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA baseball record book:

Alden Stefanovski played a major role in Whitmore Lake reaching the 2022 Division 4 Semifinals. The senior also made the record book with 20 doubles over 33 games, the first from his school to earn a listing. He was joined in 2023 in the records by senior Alex Di Dio, who hit nine triples over 29 games and also three home runs in one game April 13 against Adrian Madison. Di Dio also was added for 13 triples and a .460 average for his three-season career, and he’s continuing at Kalamazoo College.

Trenton senior Jason Marshall was nearly unstoppable on the base paths during the 2022 season – and perfect stealing on them. He made the record book with 49 steals in 49 attempts, and also for seven triples over 35 games. He’s playing football at Eastern Michigan.

Trent Hagenbach finished his Saginaw Valley Lutheran career in 2022 tied for 11th on the career triples list with 16 despite not having a 2020 season and hitting all of them over the final two. He also made the records for his seven as a junior and nine as a senior.

Dansville had 10 pitchers contribute to its 388 strikeouts over 38 games during the 2022 season, a total which placed the Aggies second all-time. Tucker Mosley paced the team with 137 strikeouts.

Parchment’s Aaron Jasiak finished his three-season varsity career with seven record book entries, including one of the most impressive winning streaks all-time. He won all 26 pitching starts over his career, which didn’t start until his sophomore season because of the COVID-related cancelation of 2020. His winning streak is the seventh longest in MHSAA history, and his 0.87 ERA ranks 11th. He also made career lists with 163 runs scored, 112 stolen bases and a .460 batting average over 103 games, and his 60 steals over 38 games this spring rank 10th. He’s continuing at Hillsdale College.

Bay City Western finished 42-2 in winning the Division 1 championship in 2013, ranking sixth for most wins in a baseball season. The Warriors also tied the record with 21 shutouts, and their 1.02 ERA ranks fifth all-time.

Grandville Calvin Christian senior Blake Pettijohn struck out 20 batters in a 7-0 win over Belding on May 11, which tied for seventh-most for a seven-inning game. He’s continuing at Hope College.

Grant’s Oakley Obenauf made the single-season stolen bases list in the spring with 45 over 29 games – and was a major contributor as his team made the single-game list multiple times. He had a combined eight steals over two games as Grant swiped 13 and 11 bases during halves of a doubleheader May 11. Obenauf is a senior this school year.

Paw Paw reached the team record book this past spring after being hit by 50 pitches over 30 games. Seven players were hit by at least five pitches, with the team leader totaling 10.

Lansing Eastern earned its first record book entries from a pair of graduating seniors this spring. Dominic Wilson capped his three-season varsity career with 134 stolen bases, which rank 10th. He swiped a career-high 51 as a senior. Teammate Matthew Stevenson made the career batting average list at .472 despite getting only eight at bats as a sophomore because of an injury.

Benzie Central’s Wyatt Noffsinger enjoyed a memorable run to nearly finish off his high school career, throwing consecutive no-hitters against Buckley on May 24 and then Manton on June 3.

Okemos then-junior Caleb Bonemer earned his first record book entry with three home runs June 3 against Grand Ledge as his team clinched a Division 1 District title. Bonemer has committed to sign with Virginia.

After 45 years, Flint Southwestern’s Ruben Luna and Risto Nicevski were added for their accomplishments on the 1978 Class A championship team. Luna made the wins list with a record of 14-0 and the ERA list with a 0.71, and Nicevski made the ERA list with a 0.72. Both went on to play at Michigan State.

East Lansing’s Sam Busch enjoyed a career day on April 12, 2019, when he hit three home runs in consecutive at bats against Ionia. A junior that season, he’s now playing at Michigan State.

Powers North Central’s Adrian Mercier enjoyed a record-worthy junior season this spring. He hit .619 over 32 games, ranking 10th all-time for a single season.

Whitehall senior Cayden Ritchie chased and nearly caught the single-season stolen base record in 2021, when he tied for second with 72 steals over 36 games. He also made the single-game steals list five times, twice with a high of six.  

Aidan Liedeke capped his Brighton Charyl Stockwell career in the spring with some of the most impressive strikeout numbers in state history. Already listed for averaging 15.41 strikeouts per game as a junior in 2022, he averaged 14.92 Ks per game this spring to finish his three-season career at 15 strikeouts per game. He posted a 0.88 ERA in the spring as well to finish with a career 1.52. He’s playing at Kalamazoo College.

Killian Bies finished his Marshall three-season career in the spring among leaders all-time for getting hit by pitches. He already had tied for sixth as a sophomore in 2021 with 22 HBPs, and with 14 more both his junior and senior seasons he finished with 50 to rank fifth on that list. He’s continuing at Cornerstone.

PHOTO Standish-Sterling's Cole Prout (8) readies for a pitch during his team's 2022 Division 3 Semifinal.