Clarkston Ace Ready for Final Title Drive

September 26, 2019

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

CLARKSTON – While striving for his first MHSAA Finals title in one sport, Luke Baylis is looking to be a part of a repeat championship in another.

A senior at Clarkston High School, Baylis is head of the powder puff committee for his class, a job that entails collecting money, setting the rules and overseeing the team as it goes for a second consecutive win.

“As juniors they beat the seniors last year,” said Baylis, who served in the same role for the junior squad a year ago. “They’re a pretty solid team. Hopefully they’ll win again.”

As the powder puff team pursues school bragging rights, Baylis is in the midst of a statewide quest.

An all-state tennis player his first three years of high school, Baylis is looking to cap off his career with a Lower Peninsula Division 1 individual title at No. 1 singles after contending for the flight championship the last two years.

Baylis has lost in the No. 1 semifinals both of the last two years, falling to Troy’s Steven Forman two years ago, 6-0, 6-0; and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice’s Jarreau Campbell in three sets last year.

As a freshman, Baylis lost in the championship match at No. 2 singles to Andrew Zhang of Bloomfield Hills, the title winner at No. 1 singles in 2018.

With Campbell and Zhang graduated, this could be the time for Baylis.

“I definitely think there is a pretty big opportunity,” said Baylis, who carries a 4.1 grade-point average. “I’m definitely feeling a little more pressure, but the pressure is good at the same time. It’s not bad pressure.”

Baylis said his parents have told him that he has had a “racquet in his hands since he was a baby,” but he started playing competitively when he was 6 years old.

Baylis also dabbled in basketball, an obsession in the Clarkston community. But despite that, he didn’t have any dreams of suiting up for the decorated Wolves hoops program.

“I kind of knew I always liked tennis more,” Baylis said. “I knew I really wasn’t going to be playing varsity basketball, so I moved on and started playing tennis more competitively.”

Baylis certainly does play competitively during the summer, saying he’s usually gone every weekend competing at junior tournaments.

Clarkston head coach Chas Claus said Baylis’ biggest strength is his poise.

Claus pointed out there are no situations in matches where Baylis gets frustrated, starts talking to himself or shouts in anger.

“He’s very tough to fluster,” Claus said. “I’ve rarely seen him out of sorts in a match where he didn’t pull through and figure it out.”

Baylis, who currently has a 20-1 record, will play in college at Michigan State, choosing the Spartans over Notre Dame.

“It had the best feeling,” Baylis said of a visit to MSU. “When I stepped on campus, I knew it was right. Nothing felt quite as right as the team at Michigan State.”

Before making the move to East Lansing, he wants to apply the lessons he’s learned the last three years when he gets a final crack at a Finals title next month.

“I got tight in certain situations,” Baylis said. “I think it definitely made me stronger and a little more motivated going into this year after that semifinal loss.”

By the time the Finals wrap up Oct. 19 in Midland, Baylis hopes he’ll have two titles in the bag – a tennis championship to go with a second powder puff crown for his senior class.

PHOTOS: (Top) Clarkston’s Luke Baylis returns a volley during first-day play at the 2017 LP Division 1 Finals. (Middle) Baylis has made the No. 1 singles semifinals the last two seasons. (Top photo by; middle courtesy of Luke Baylis.)

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 9, 2024

The Girls & Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played at University of Michigan Lacrosse Stadium for the first time, one of the most notable changes for this season as sports ramp up for more than 100,000 athletes anticipated to participate this spring for Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools.

The MHSAA sponsors postseason competition each spring in baseball, girls and boys lacrosse, girls soccer, softball, girls and boys track & field, boys golf (Lower and Upper Peninsula) and girls golf (UP), and girls (LP) and boys (UP) tennis.

The U-M Lacrosse Stadium opened for competition in 2018 and seats 2,000 spectators. The Girls Lacrosse Finals will be played Friday, June 7, with Division 1 at 4 p.m. and Division 2 at 7 p.m. The Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played the following day, June 8, with Division 2 at 11 a.m. and Division 1 at 2 p.m.

Girls lacrosse also has a significant format adjustment this season, as games will be played with four 12-minutes quarters instead of the previous two halves, in part to allow coaches more opportunities to provide direct instruction during a game. Two more rules changes are expected to improve flow of play – players awarded a free position outside of the critical scoring area no longer must come to a stop and settled stance before self-starting, and false start penalties outside the critical scoring area have been eliminated.

Several more rules changes will be noticeable this spring:

In boys lacrosse, a change was made to enhance player safety. Play will stop immediately any time a player’s helmet comes off, and that player may not return until the next dead ball after play continues.

Fair and legal starts are a continued emphasis for track & field, and a rule change will allow for movement before the start of the race as long as a competitor does not leave their mark with a hand or a foot after the “set” command, or make forward motion before the starting device is activated.

A significant rule change in softball alters pitch delivery mechanics. The pitcher may now have both feet off the ground at the same time when releasing the ball as long as both feet remain within the 24-inch width of a pitching plate and the pitcher does not replant the pivot foot before delivering the pitch.

Another change in softball requires that a playbook/playcard be worn on the wrist or kept in a back pocket to reduce distractions. If worn by the pitcher, the equipment must be worn on the non-pitching arm. Similarly in baseball, a wristband with plays or instructions will be permitted but must be a single, solid color, and for pitchers may not contain the colors white or gray or be otherwise distracting. Baseball players must wear this wristband on the wrist or forearm, and pitchers may wear one only on their non-pitching arm.

Also in baseball, a rule change allows for one-way communication devices worn by the catcher to receive instructions from the dugout while on defense, for the purpose of calling pitches. The coach must be inside the dugout/bench area to use the communication device.

Golfers now are required to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that school team in an MHSAA Regional or Final. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hole events.

In tennis, for the first time in Lower Peninsula play, a No. 1 doubles flight from a non-qualifying team will be able to advance from its Regional to Finals competition. To do so, that No. 1 doubles flight must finish first or second at its Regional, and the No. 1 singles player from that team also must have qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play.

On the soccer pitch, two officiating-related changes will be especially noticeable. Officials now may stop the clock to check on an injured player without that player being required to leave the match – previously that player would have to sub out. Also, categories for fouls have been redefined: careless (which is a foul but does not receive a card), reckless (a foul with a yellow card) and excessive force (foul with red card). 

The 2023-24 Spring campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Golf and Boys Tennis Finals during the week of May 27 and wraps up with Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball Finals on June 15. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regional Semifinals – June 5
Regional Finals, Quarterfinals – June 8
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Boys Regionals – May 28-June 1
UP Girls & Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Boys Finals – June 7-8

Boys Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 10-15
Regionals – May 16-29
Quarterfinals – May 31 or June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 8

Girls Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 16-18, or May 20
Regionals – May 22-June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 7

Girls Soccer
Districts – May 22-June 1
Regionals – June 4-8
Semifinals – June 11-12
Finals – June 14-15

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regionals – June 8
Quarterfinals – June 11
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Girls Regionals – May 15-18
UP Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Girls Finals – May 31-June 1

Track & Field
Regionals – May 16-18
Finals – June 1