Hartland up for defense of Division 1 baseball title

David Goricki
The Detroit News

East Lansing — The stars will be out today at Michigan State.

The state high school baseball and softball finals are in town, and pitchers will be the focus in the semifinals, especially in baseball.

Nate Lohmeier and John Baker are arguably the top combination in the state as they lead Hartland in search of a Division 1 repeat.

Baker, a senior right-hander who will play at Ball State next year, had a one-hit shutout in the quarterfinals over Rochester, giving up a two-out double in the seventh inning.

But taking the mound today against Saline, which boasts a half-dozen Division 1-caliber players, is the left-handed Lohmeier.

And he’s thrilled with his opportunity after missing last season’s Final Four with ACL and MCL injuries.

“I think I’m better than a year ago,” said Lohmeier, who is 9-0 with a 0.50 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 642/3 innings. “I’ve grown up and feel if I’m in control and throwing strikes, no team can beat me.”

Same goes for Baker, who is 11-1 with a 0.80 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 82 innings.

“He was phenomenal (in the quarterfinals),” Lohmeier said. “He was hitting his spots, locating his curve, blowing the ball by hitters with his fastball.”

Baker also is a hit at the plate — he’s hitting .395 with four home runs and 44 RBIs.

Saline defeated Portage Northern in the quarterfinals, and has a strong pitcher itself in senior Josh Nelson.

Nelson is 10-0 with a 0.44 ERA, winning two games in relief during districts. He has 22 strikeouts in 12 innings this postseason.

... Warren De La Salle has to be considered the underdog in the Final Four, entering the postseason 19-13.

It is making its first state semifinal appearance since 2012, when it was 20-23-1 but advanced to the title game before losing to Hudsonville.

Mercy softball confident

The Farmington Hills Mercy softball team returns to the Final Four after losing in the Division 1 semifinals last season to Caledonia.

Gone is Dream Team catcher Alex Sobczak (Michigan), but first baseman Abby Krzywiecki returned and is having a record-setting season — a season state-mark 20 homers, and one away from matching the career mark (49).

Anna Dixon has done a solid job of replacing Sobczak behind the plate. Dixon is hitting .475.

“We’ll be more comfortable since we’ve been there last year and know what it’s about,” Krzywiecki said. “Now, we want to get one game further and win the state championship.”

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SOFTBALL SEMIFINALS / FINALS

(All games at Michigan State, East Lansing)

DIVISION 1 — THURSDAY

■Macomb Dakota vs. Midland, 10 a.m.

■Farmington Hills Mercy vs. Mattawan, 12:30 p.m.

Final: Saturday, 10 a.m.

DIVISION 2 — THURSDAY

■Livonia Ladywood vs. Vicksburg, 3 p.m.

■Escanaba vs. Richmond, 5:30 p.m.

Final: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

DIVISION 3 — FRIDAY

■Grandville Calvin Christian vs. Millington, 10 a.m.

■Monroe St. Mary Catholic vs. Gladstone, 12:30

Final: Saturday, 3 p.m.

DIVISION 4 — FRIDAY

■Unionville-Sebewaing vs. Morenci, 3 p.m.

■Indian River Inland Lakes vs. Holton, 5:30 p.m.

Final: Saturday, 5:30 p.m.

BASEBALL SEMIFINALS / FINALS

(All games at Michigan State, East Lansing)

DIVISION 1 — THURSDAY

■Traverse City West vs. Warren De La Salle, 2:30 p.m.

■Hartland vs. Saline, 5 p.m.

Final: Saturday, 11:30 a.m.

DIVISION 2 — THURSDAY

■Holland Christian vs. DeWitt, 9 a.m.

■Dearborn Divine Child vs. Linden, 11:30 a.m.

Final: Saturday, 9 a.m.

DIVISION 3 — FRIDAY

■Jackson Lumen Christi vs. New Lothrop, 2:30 p.m.

■Mason County Central vs. Grosse Pointe Liggett, 5 p.m.

Final: Saturday, 5 p.m.

DIVISION 4 — FRIDAY

■Sterling Heights Parkway vs. Centreville, 9 a.m.

■Portland St. Patrick vs. Gaylord St. Mary, 11:30 a.m.

Final: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.