By RON DEUTER
NORWAY - Norway is hoping to play two games Saturday when they travel to Sault Ste. Marie for the MHSAA Division 4 Regional 25 baseball tournament. But the Knights (14-5) are only thinking about their first contest, when they face District 98 champion Rudyard.
Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News Photo
The 2013 District Champion Norway Knight baseball team, front row from left, Bryce Plante, Garrett Bonetti, Mike Faull, Taylor Bonetti, Jake Rehn, John Edwardsen, Austin Grayvold. Back row — Coach Ron Faull, Coach Mike Maule, Dan Vivio, Bryce Grayvold, Stone Rossato, Alex Carlson, Billy Bourg, Nick Pearman, John Grayvold, Jr, Jorden Neumann, Coach Tony Adams.
"Rudyard will be a significant challenge for us," Norway manager Tony Adams said. "They are well coached, have strong pitching, and seem to be good offensively every year. We have a lot of respect for their program."
Rudyard shows a 15-9-1 record. The Bulldogs defeated Pellston 13-2 in a district semifinal before outlasting Newberry 3-2 in a nine-inning final, claiming a fourth straight district title. Last year's squad advanced to the Division 4 semifinals.
"Rudyard can put pressure on defense by the many different ways they can attack, so our kids will have to understand the situation and make good decisions," Adams said.
Rudyard ended Norway's season last year, downing the Knights 13-4 in the regional title game. Jake Harrison pitched the Bulldogs to the win. He is among Rudyard's returning players this season, pitching the Bulldogs to their district championship victory last weekend.
"Offensively, we have to have good at bats and stay fundamentally strong in the zone," Adams said. "The level of play rises and it takes two good games to move on.
"We have to stay away from giving up the big inning and limit our mistakes. We have significant regional experience, but we are still a pretty young team."
Norway and Rudyard begin 11 a.m. (Central), in game that can be heard on local radio. The first game features Atlanta (22-2) against Onaway (19-6). Title game is set for 1 p.m.
"Onaway and Atlanta are two teams that we haven't seen before, but they beat some good programs to get here," Adams said. "Our focus is on Rudyard."