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Mumford joins PSL Mega Division

Communication Media Arts  CHUCK JOHNSON, DPS PHOTO

Communication Media Arts

PSL Baseball preview 2014-Mega Division

Western, King favorites; Cass Tech, Renaissance show improvement with new talent

By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.

Mumford, a school rich in baseball tradition, is now back. The Mustangs, who finished with an 11-5 record last year in the Detroit PSL East-West Division, have moved up to the PSL’s Mega Division with the likes of Western International, King, Cass Tech, Renaissance and Communication Media Arts.

Second-year head coach Brian Bronson is pleased to have the Mustangs back in the tougher division. The last time Mumford won the Detroit PSL Title was in 2007 and Bronson feels he has the personnel to bring back the championship and winning seasons of former Mumford skipper Brian Newton.

“We were one game away from going to Comerica Park last year, when we lost to East English Village by one run during the playoffs,” Bronson said. “We have plenty of experience coming back with plenty speed on the bases.”

The Mustangs have six returning players including three transfers, two from Oak Park and one from Consortium Prep. Mumford’s pitching ace will be senior Brandon Washington who also plays at the catcher’s spot. Senior catcher Darius Jones will also be another hurler on the mound for the Mustangs. Senior outfielder Darius Fluellen will provide speed for Mumford in the outfield and on the bases.

Western International, the defending PSL champion, has a squad of 17 with eight returning starters for head coach Juan Sanchez. Four of the returners were everyday starters.

“We graduated eight seniors and I expect to have some of the youth on our squad to step up,” Sanchez said. “These kids have some shoes to fill.

“This will be the first time we don’t have a regular short stop, but we will start other players. As a team we want to get better every day.

Key returners for Western International will be senior ace pitcher Luis Chapa. When Chapa isn’t on the mound he’ll play at either short stop, first or third base. Senior Tratez Hinton will play at the catcher spot or in the outfield. Junior Anthony Gutierrez will play at either the first or third base spot while batting third and junior Amadeo Apollini who Sanchez expects to step up. Sanchez is pleased Mumford has been added to the Mega Conference to improve the quality of play.

“Adding them will make the Mega Division more completive,” Sanchez said. “Plus I expect a lot from King this year.”

Martin Luther King High School head coach Norman Taylor is smiling not only because he has 17 of 18 returning players, but his Crusaders, last year’s PSL runners-up, will now have a playfield they can call their own. After travelling to play and practice at Manz Playfield on the far east side, King will have a playfield right on the school’s campus. He’s pleased DPS has reconstructed their field so the Crusaders can have practice and games.

“I love it,” said Taylor who was working hard over that past few years to get their home field ready to play on. “It’s great to have a field you can play on.

“The new field will help us build our program, but it might help us host MHSAA State Districts and/or Regionals.

Taylor also has a team deep in experience to go with the new field. The key returners will be senior short stop Avonte Maddox, senior catcher Clemia Jackson, junior pitcher DeNayus Johnson and junior center fielder Kendrick Ball.

Cass Tech, who holds its practices at the old Tiger Stadium site at Michigan and Trumbull, has a squad of 17 players which includes eight seniors headed by second-year Head Coach Rick Miller. The key players for the Technicians will be senior pitcher/third baseman DeMarcus Greene, sophomore pitcher/first baseman Andre Bell and sophomore short stop Kalib Thorpe.

“I know they’ve put in a lot hard work this year,” Miller said. “The kids here love to come to school and have a good study-work ethic when it comes to books and baseball.

“I feel good about this season because we have some good up and coming student-athletes. I would like to develop a baseball concept at Cass Tech so kids can come here to enroll as students. A good student-athlete with strong academics is a good formula to bring recruits to our program.”

Head Coach Leon McKissic at Renaissance has eight returning starters, four of them seniors out of a squad of 16.

“We’re a young squad,” McKissic said. “I’ll think we’ll be okay because we’re working hard. We’re excited about our league; Mumford has been added to our division. The more teams we have the better off the league is.”

Key returners for the Phoenix are seniors Kanzon Ramsey (pitcher/catcher) and Napoleon McCants (pitcher/outfielder).

“You can’t really tell what you have until you get your players on the field,” McKissic concluded. “The kids have put in a lot of practice. It’s what happens on the field that counts.”

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