Division 3 Team Of The Week: Week 8 - Bad Axe

Bruce Hefflinger and Dylan Hefflinger
PBR Michigan Senior Writer and Editor in Chief/Scout


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Division 3 Team Of The Week: Week 8 - Bad Axe

BAD AXE - After falling in the opener of a doubleheader with Laker last Tuesday, Bad Axe responded with a 12-2 win in the nightcap to capture a Greater Thumb Conference championship. It also propelled the Hatchetts to honors as the Prep Baseball Report Division 3 Team of the Week.

“I expected to be competitive,” explained Bad Axe head coach Bob Breault. “Last year we hit the snot out of the ball, almost .340 average. This year I knew our offense would not be as consistent, but I didn’t think our pitching would be as good as it’s been.”

The junior duo of Griffin Meinhold and Noah Braun have led the way on the mound for the 19-4 Hatchets, Meinhold sporting a 6-0 record with three saves and a 5-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and Braun at 6-1 for a team with a 2.30 ERA.

“Our pitching has been pretty darn good,” Breault admitted. “We don’t walk many and we’ve been solid defensively. The problem is when we make errors we make them in bunches.”

Meinhold threw a five-hitter while fanning nine in the win over Laker and followed it up this past Saturday with a four-hitter, striking out 10 and not walking a batter in a 1-0 victory over Armada for a twinbill sweep. Braun was the winning pitcher in the 4-3 opening triumph.

“They just throw strikes, Noah in particular with first-pitch strikes,” Breault said. “He pitches to contact. When he pitches that’s probably our best infield and he gets a lot of ground-ball outs. Griffin’s our starting shortstop, so when he pitches we have to shuffle our lineup.”

Junior Draiden Ramos “has the best stuff” on the staff according to Breault, “but is not as consistent.”

Catcher Keaton Braun, no relation to Noah, had his chance pitching a week prior and threw a perfect game. A junior, Keaton is averaging .456 and receiving D-I looks, pointed out Breault.

“He’s a very complete player,” Breault said of Braun, who leads the team in RBIs, doubles, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and OPS. “He’s a leader. The guys respect him.”

Leadoff hitter Aaron Sowles has the top average on the team at .474 with 33 runs and 26 stolen bases.

“He’s the table setter for us, extremely fast,” noted Breault. “When he gets on he creates havoc.”

The biggest holes to fill from a year ago were in the outfield with three all-league graduates. A pair of sophomores are in the corner with Ramos in center field.

“The key to our season has been the role players willing to put a bunt down, take the extra base, … the little things,” Breault said.

With district play to begin soon, the 11th-year varsity coach understands the tough competition ahead for the seventh-ranked D-3 team in Michigan.

“We have to play well,” Breault said. “If we can get out of districts we have a chance to get to the quarters and then we’d run into (top-ranked) Liggett. If we get to that point, we’ll have our pitching ready. If we go down, we’ll go down with our best.”

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