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May 27, 1988 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-05-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SPORTS

Hand and Glove

Southfield-Lathrup's pitching and
defense has led it near the top of
Michigan High School baseball

MIKE ROSENBAUM

Sports Writer

C

an nine good gloves plus
three strong arms equal a
state baseball champion-
ship? An experienced South-
field-Lathrup squad will try
to answer that question during the
next few weeks in the state Class A
boys baseball tournament. They open
tournament play with a pre-district
contest at Birmingham Seaholm
today.
The Chargers entered the week at
21-2 overall, 12-0 in the Metro Subur-
ban Activities Association with two
league games remaining. They were
ranked second in the state in a poll
of coaches.
"We knew we were gonna have a
pretty good ballclub this year," says
coach Bob Marten.
Some of the players, however, are
surprised by the level of Lathrup's
success. "We had no idea that we'd be
ranked second in the state," admits
David Katkowsky, a senior leftfielder
who is one of eight Jewish players on
the team. "We had a feeling that we
had a chance to be ranked:'
Senior first baseman Steve
Memran recalls that before the
season, "We knew we were gonna be
good. But I had. no idea that we'd be
this good. Second-ranked in the state's
pretty good. But now that I've seen
what we can do and the competition
that we have — we can be first in the
state?'
The other Jewish players on the
team are seniors Jason Markowitz,
Joel Wax and Steve Roth, juniors
Geoff Kaplan and Dan Levinson and
sophomore Scott Lyons.
The Chargers feature the classic
combination of pitching and defense.
"It's the best defensive team I've ever
had," says Marten, who is coaching
his 12th Lathrup squad. "All nine
positions are really solid. We've got
some real nice arms, which is really
rare for a high school team . . . We
have an excellent catcher (John
McGough), the infield's good and the
outfield's the best we've ever had.
Most of the time we'll take people that
hit the ball and put 'em in the out-
field. This time we've got outfielders
'-hat are hitters also."

The Chargers field Memran at
first, Terry McGough at second base,
Steve Collias at third and Alexi Gagin
at shortstop. Katkowsky plays left
field, Wax center and Markowitz
right. Roth and junior Will Elkins,
the only non-senior who plays
regularly, handle the designated hit-
ter spot or fill in for one of the
regulars who also pitches.
Collias (9-0) is the number one pit-
cher. Terry McGough (5-0) and
Markowitz (6-0) fill out the rotation.
"Our pitching has really come
through," says Marten. "On paper,
last year it should've been better. But
there's no comparison?'
The Chargers' story begins in
1985, when most of this year's seniors
formed the most successful freshman
team in Lathrup's history, finishing
16-3. But they did not look ahead
toward a possible state title. "Way
back then the varsity team wasn't too
good," says Katkowsky, who played on
that freshman squad. "It never even
occured to us that we'd come this far?'
In the past three seasons, those
freshmen moved up the Charger lad-
der, participating in their summer
team in the Oakland County Connie
Mack League, then joining the
varsity.
Signs of Lathrup's impending suc-
cess first showed in the summer of
1986 when the summer team finish-
ed second, missing first place on the
last day of the season. That team then

Steve Roth leads off of first.

Cleanup man David Katkowsky.

finished 20-9 in last year's high school RBI, two short of the school record.
campaign, placing second in the The Chargers also have a good runn-
MSAA. Last summer, Marten's sum- ing game. "We have some real nice
mer team — which uses only Lathrup speed in our first three hitters and
we've got some down towards the bot-
players — won the league.
tom of the order," says Marten.
The squad gains not only ex-
'Mainly it's been about three or four
perience but togetherness in the sum-
kids who have really hit the ball well.
mer. "If we didn't have the summer
I think our team average is about
program," states Marten, "I don't
.342. We can throw nine pretty good
think we'd be half as successful as we
batters
at everybody?'
are. The kids get to know each other
Katkowsky, who played on
during the summer. They become a
Detroit's bronze medal-winning team
lot closer team."
in the 1986 Maccabi Youth Games in
Marten's pre-season goal was to Thronto, enjoys hitting cleanup. "I like
win the MSAA, "and then we'd take being in the tough spots. I like com-
it from there . . . After the league, (the ing through?' Katkowsky, who hit
goal) is probably trying to make it out four homers last year, has one this
of districts and go to the state season, is hitting .297 and is second
playoffs!'
on the team with 20 RBI. "He's a lit-
While hitting is baseball's tle bit of a streak hitter," adds
glamour role, the players know the Marten. "He'll have his 3-for-4 games
team's true strength. "Our defense is and then he'll hit the ball hard but
just incredible. It's the best defensive it'll be at somebody?' Katkowsky is a
team we've ever had at this school," three-year letterman and two-year
says Memran, a two-year letterman starter.
who played catcher and designated
Memran feels that "I can improve
hitter last season. "Offensively, we're in a few different ways. Defensively
all hitting the ball. We don't have one I'm having a pretty good season. Of-
specific power hitter or a lot of power. fensively, I'm hitting the ball hard?'
Everyone does his share. Our pit- Memran has 15 RBI and a .344
ching, we have a few starters but in average. "I'm having a fair season;'
our bullpen, our relief pitchers, we're he concludes, adding, "I hope to get
hurting a little. But as long as our over .400."
starters stay in the game and pitch
Marten is more complimentary
the way they've done, we won't have about Memran's campaign."Steve
any problem."
Memran's had a great season . . . He's
Despite the lack of power, just done a great job in the field. He's
Lathrup's offense is strong. The key improved each game so much that
hitters bat in the first four spots: David Katkowsky, who was gonna be
Thrry and John McGough, Gagin and our regular first baseman, is now our
Katkowski. Gagin, a sure-handed, leftfielder. So Steven's earned his job
strong-armed shortstop, leads the at first base. He's hit the ball well for
team with a near-.500 average and 31 us. He's had some key hits?'

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