Division 4 Team Of The Week: Week 3 - Plymouth Christian


Bruce Hefflinger and Dylan Hefflinger
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Division 4 Team Of The Week: Week 3 - Plymouth Christian

GRAND RAPIDS - While many teams are struggling to get in games, Plymouth Christian has already played 10 entering this week.

“I’m a pretty good groundskeeper,” noted Joe Bottorff, head coach of the Prep Baseball Report Division 4 Team of the Week. “If we have four hours after it rains, I can get it ready.”

A strong schedule against higher division teams has Plymouth Christian currently 4-6 on the season after losing the first four games of the year.

“We’ve only played two schools in our division and I don’t know if both are ranked but both should be,” Bottoroff said about Inland Lakes and Royal Oak Shrine.

There have also been games with Carroll High School near Dayton, Ohio, as well as games with D1 and D2 schools in Michigan.

“We won district last year and went to the regionals and lost that game in the first inning,” reflected Bottorff. “I don’t think we were mentally tough enough so we decided to beef up our schedule and hope we can do better.”

The trio of Noah Etnyer, Joey Lavigne and Joey Weertz have been the leaders of the team this season, which now must do without top pitcher Riley Brodhagen, a junior left-hander who broke his wrist and will miss 6-8 weeks.

“Optimistically, if it’s six weeks he’ll be back before the tournament,” Bottorff said.

Lavigne, a senior southpaw, will be counted on more on the mound while also seeing time in the outfield.

“He’s getting looked at by smaller colleges,” Bottorff said of Lavigne.

Etnyre has an offer from Calvin and is getting D-I looks after earning all-state honors a year ago. The junior catcher is hitting .462.

Another junior, shortstop Joey Weertz, has also been a big contributor for Plymouth Christain batting in the leadoff position.

“He’s an on-base machine,” Bottorff said of Weertz, who had 25 walks and 16 HBP last year. “He just gets on base. He runs fast and will steal a lot of bases.”

Noah Spicer, a transfer from Plymouth who came on to close out the most recent victory over Gabrial Richard, has thrown the second most innings thus far and will be counted on even more with Brodhagen sidelined. An outfielder as well, Spicer is currently carrying a .360 batting average.

“We’re still young, the strength of our team is in our juniors and we have two freshmen starting and a couple others in key reserve roles,” Bottorff said. “We’re learning how to play together.”

Tyler Scott, a freshman third baseman, has played well defensively according to the head coach, with two barehanded plays against Gabriel Richard.

While overall defense has been a struggle with 30 errors to date, one pleasant surprise so far has been the play of first baseman Brady White, a third baseman last year.

“We lost our four-year starter at first base so we moved him over and he’s doing well,” Bottorff said. “He’s hitting .417 and only struck out once.”

The team has also been strong on the base paths with 42 stolen bases in 45 attempts.

“If we can keep that up, hit a little better and clean up walks and errors we’ll be just fine,” pointed out the 15th-year head coach. “This is a pretty tight-knit group but we have some new faces in a transfer and the freshmen.”

There is also a new team member in senior Izaak Sturdivant.

“He’s new at the school and has never played,” Bottorff said. “I told him he’s not going to play much but we put him in to pinch run when we were up big against Inland Lakes and he scored. Everyone was excited about that.”

League play begins this week with Lutheran Westland.

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