Pre-Season Preview: Mattawan HS

By Jeff Butler

Coming off of a stellar season in 2012 that included a SMAC West Co-Championship the Mattawan Wildcats are looking to accomplish big things in 2013.  Eight seniors return this year with many of them in their third year of varsity play.  Parchment standout Ben Root, also a senior, has transferred in giving the Wildcats an unprecedented amount of experience and leadership from their senior class, often a key element in championship teams.  Coach Cory DeGroote's squad doesn't just rely on experience though, as this is a talent laden team with many players receiving interest to play at the next level.  Below are some brief summaries for key returning players:

Class 2013

CF, Mitchell Anderson-  Anderson is uncommitted, but expect that to change soon as the fleet CF has clocked a few sub 7 60's.  He has a strong arm and tracks everything down in the outfield.  As the leadoff hitter for the Wildcats last year Anderson had an outstanding .444 OBP and swiped 32 bases in 34 attempts.  Anderson plays his summer ball for the Kalamazoo Maroons and will make a great addition to a collegiate team looking to add speed and defense to their roster.

P/IF/OF BJ Butler-  Butler is a two time SMAC West All Conference selection and is starting his 4th year as the teams #1 starter.  Last year he went 10-3 with a school record 0.91 ERA and struck out 88 in 69 innings garnering All District honors as well.  He holds the career wins mark at Mattawan with 22 and will look to add to that total this year. Butler impressed this past summer for the Detroit Metro Stars with a 3 hit 7 strikeout performance vs. the East Cobb Braves 17U team and then pitched the Stars to a MABF Championship by shutting down the Grosse Pointe Redbirds on 2 hits and 10 strikeouts while outdueling Michigan's 2012 Co-Mr. Baseball Alex Daar.   Also a Division 1 Academic All State selection he will be attending Ball State University on both a baseball/academic scholarship. 

P/OF, Austin Collison- Collison had a break out pitching campaign last year going 4-1 with a 1.60 era.  He uses pinpoint control and a good fastball to get ahead and dominate hitters, walking just 5 in 35 innings.  Collison is an outstanding outfielder and also carried a  .313 BA.  Also a Division 1 Academic All-State selection Collison is deciding whether to focus strictly on academics at the next level or continue his playing career.

SS/MIF, Ryan Demorrow-  DeMorrow's improved defense was a big reason for the Wildcats consistency last year.  He hit .317 last year and was 9/10 in the SB department.  An outstanding student (Academic All-District 2012)  DeMorrow  has committed to play baseball at Kalamazoo College.

1B, Trevor Fink-  Fink had a monster break out year last year as he hit over .400 and belted 5 HR's while co-leading the team in RBI's with 25.  His slugging percentage was an eye-popping .658. He was a SMAC West All Conference selection.  Fink, who just committed to attend the University of Massachusetts on a baseball scholarship is one of the best pure hitters in the state, but also plays a slick first base, not committing an error last year while recording 160 putouts.

C, Ryan Jess- Jess is an excellent catcher whose primary strengths are blocking and receiving. He committed just one error and had only 2 passed balls in the 2012 campaign and runs a tight ship as a field general. He has a solid bat as he hit .313 last season with one third of his hits going for extra bases.

1B/DH, Brian Presley-  Presley swings a heavy bat from the left side and drives the ball with power all over the field.  He lead the team last year in HR's with 6 and had a +.6oo slugging percentage. He was also the co-leader on the team in RBI's with 25.  

P/3B/OF, Ben Root-  Root is a transfer in from Parchment where he was a standout on their varsity for 3 years.  As a pitcher he throws a heavy fastball that has been clocked in the upper 80's and has a good curveball.  A left handed stick with a sweet swing he adds further depth to an already outstanding Wildcat line-up. Root plays for the Kalamazoo Maroons and is still uncommitted.

P, Josh Schacht- As the Wildcats closer in 2012 Schacht was extremely effective collecting 3 wins and 4 saves on the season while posting an outstanding 1.81 ERA.  A 6-foot-5 submarine style pitcher Schacht is brutal on hitters seeing him for the first time and will make it difficult on Mattawan's opponents in tight games decided in late innings.  While Schacht excels on the diamond, he is truly at home in the pool and will be continuing his athletic career in college as a swimmer.


INF/OF CJ Huntley- Huntley started the entire 2012 season in the OF for Mattawan on a team loaded with experience and talent which is indicative of his tremendous upside.  He has grown significantly and now stands 6'2” and possesses an aggressive mentality at the plate along with strong arm in the field.  He played travel for the Kalamazoo Maroons last year and is considered one of the top prospects for his class in Michigan.

Other Players to Watch 

Mattawan also has outstanding role players returning in seniors Ryan Payerle, Brody Schmuhl and junior. Tyler Dundore.