Carmen Benedetti hits a home run Friday against L’Anse Creuse North. He’s hitting .591 this season with 12 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs. (Ricardo Thomas/Detroit News)
Grosse Pointe -- Dan Griesbaum had little doubt Carmen Benedetti would become an impact player as a freshman at Grosse Pointe South. Griesbaum watched Benedetti have success as a hitter in the eighth grade and knew he was destined to become one of the state's top players.
Now a senior, Benedetti is the only four-year starter under Griesbaum. Even Chris Getz (Kansas City Royals) can't make that claim. Benedetti batted .392 his first season, .551 as a sophomore, .494 as a junior and is batting .591 (26-for-44) through 18 games this season.
A 6-foot-2, 220-pound left-handed hitter, Benedetti, who signed with Michigan, has power to all fields. He has three home runs this season with eight doubles and 17 RBIs. He's struck out just twice and has a .648 on-base percentage.
"He's definitely a power hitter," Griesbaum said. "None of his hits are cheap. There's not a bloop single among them. He's as pure a hitter as I've ever had. Getz had a different skill set. I told (Benedetti) after his sophomore season, don't expect to hit .551 the next year (in 2012 high school baseball players in Michigan were restricted to using the Ball Bat Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) bat, a more stringent standard than the previous Ball Exit Speed Ratio, or BESR)."
Benedetti is a fine fielder as well and, at times, an effective pitcher. He plays center field and first base, and is expected to play one of these two positions in college. Benedetti has a strong and accurate arm in center, and is nimble at first.
Griesbaum said he's had some control problems and thus has seen limited time on the mound.
"He's played a lot of competitive ball," Griesbaum said. "He's more experienced than most players.
"There's nobody that works harder. He's had the respect from (his teammates) since his freshman year because of the type of player he is. It's never about Carmen. It's about the team. He's not your rah-rah, get-in-your-face type of leader. He goes out and does his job every day."
Gutting it out
Through April 22 Rochester (8-9, 1-6 OAA Red Division) had played 15 games when most teams had played fewer than 10.
"We've played in the coldest weather imaginable," coach Eric Magiera said. "One game we played it was 30 degrees. You name it we played in it, snow, rain."
In addition to weather conditions and scheduling difficulties, Magiera, softball coach Laura Guzman and athletic coordinator Luke Beach are hoping to have scoreboards in place, at both the baseball and softball fields, in time for the Division 1 regional June 8 at Rochester.
They await a school board decision in two weeks to determine whether construction will begin in time for completion before the regionals.
Depth comes in handy
Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook coach Andy Fairman said nearly half his games were postponed because of weather conditions and with 20 Catholic League games on his schedule, many of the nonleague contests won't be made up.
Fairman is confident his staff can handle the load.
"This is the most pitching depth I've had," said Fairman, now in his ninth season. "I have five sophomores and all five will pitch."
The top two pitchers are left-handers. Senior Zach Feldman was an all-Catholic selection last season and 6-5 junior Grant Reuss committed to U-M.
"(Reuss has) got a bit more in him this year," Fairman said. "He's a great target at first base. He's developed a curve ball and is throwing it for strikes. He had issues with control before."
Feldman and Reuss threw on Saturday in 9-2 Cranbrook's doubleheader sweep of Waterford Lakes, 2-1 and 1-0.
Pitching depth could become a problem for coach Mike Roffi at Walled Lake Central. Roffi said that beginning with Central's doubleheader split with Livonia Stevenson on Saturday, his team is scheduled to play 26 games in 31 days.
"We're young," Roffi said. "We're scrappy. I have talent but I don't have any power hitters. We put the ball in play. Pitching depth is the key."
Central (7-4) started 5-0, including a 5-3 victory over Brighton last Monday. Brent Gustafson pitched well, allowing one walk and striking out 11.
To Gibraltar Carlson coach Chad Liptow , coaches have a responsibility to hold their players accountable and that includes those that choose to go on vacation during spring break.
"We have a policy, an absentee policy," he said. "Just like during the season if you miss a practice, you miss that next game. We took our team down to Cincinnati (during spring break). We took 12 kids. Five chose to go (on spring break). There were teams down there like Grosse Pointe South and Temperance Bedford. Those are some of the top programs. They don't have kids take off. Football plays two games before school starts. What makes baseball different?
"It's a tough call. We don't kick them off the team but we hold kids accountable. We didn't play those kids their first two games back, and lost both. Sure we could have used them."
Flooding takes its toll
Grand Rapids Christian, like all teams on the state's west side, has been severely hampered by the recent heavy rainfall. Christian coach Brent Gates held just his second practice outdoors on Friday. Christian has played just seven games, but Gates said his team should be able to make up most of those postponements. It's not the games Christian won't be able to make up that concerns Gates. He said the limited time outdoors has impacted the play because of the lack of practice time.
"In high school that's how you get better," he said. "Games are fun. … You get 150 ground balls a day in practice. … It's the repetition. Now is when you see it. You see ugly baseball.
"The league games will take precedent. I don't want to cancel practices just to make up the nonleague games."