The Albion College Britons spring sports teams have begun competition for the 2020 season. With that, each team has different expectations for what they want to accomplish this spring.
In 2019, the Briton baseball team finished 22-20 overall and third in the MIAA (17-11).
This year, the team is returning the majority of their starters from last season. Jordyn Finney, a senior from Oxford, Mich., is returning as catcher, and Scott Grant, a senior from West Bloomfield, Mich., will be the primary pitcher this spring. Riley Stasiak, a senior from South Bend, Ind., is expected to contribute on offense for the Britons.
“We feel that we will be able to put up runs in bunches, and our pitching staff and defense will keep us in games,” said head baseball coach Scott Carden.
On March 28 and 29, the team will take on Adrian College for a key matchup. Then, the Britons will face Hope College on April 23 and 24 for another key MIAA matchup. These games will likely determine the top three finishers in the MIAA this spring.
“We really like the team we have for 2020,” said Carden.
The Briton softball team finished 2019 at 8-32, placing them last in the MIAA. 2020 has significant potential for the team to finish higher.
“There is more depth in certain areas, which the team didn’t have over the past few seasons,” said head softball coach Leigh Ann LeFave.
The team will face Kalamazoo, who finished eighth in the MIAA last year, on March 31. The Britons will then battle the top two teams in the league from last year. On April 2, the Britons will face Calvin, and on April 16 they will be up against Trine.
Coming back from spring training in Florida, the Britons are off to their best start in program history (9-3).
“Everyone is contributing somehow, or in some way. It is our goal to be one of the top six teams [in the MIAA] this season,” said LeFave.
Among those contributing is Grace Connolly, a junior from Chicago, Ill., who is averaging .450 to kick off the 2020 season.
Conference play begins this month, giving the Britons an opportunity to continue their hot streak.
Last season, the men’s lacrosse team finished 8-9 and second in the MIAA (5-1). This spring, the team is relying on a strong returning squad.
“Our key returners are doing really well, and as expected our all league performers are all playing at a high level,” said head men’s lacrosse coach Jake DeCola.
Key returners for the Britons include Jace Conley, a sophomore from Waterford, Mich., who scored 47 goals last season. First team All-MIAA member Joey Tatar, a sophomore from Battle Creek, Mich., will be key on defense for the Britons.
The team will face Hope College, who won the league last year, on April 18.
“The team is working on clapping everyday as our goal. We feel like if we can take care of that and improve everyday, good things will happen,” said DeCola.
In 2019, the women’s lacrosse team finished 14-5, and they won the MIAA Tournament. A strong MIAA Tournament performance this spring would result in the second tournament championship in the last two years for the Britons.
“Our team knows what they need to do to get the job done and it’s on them to execute our game plan,” said head women’s lacrosse coach Laurie Merian.
Helping the team achieve their goals this spring will be Alexis Robinson, a sophomore from Agoura, Calif., in the net. Chrystelle Lopez, a sophomore from Van Nuys, Calif., and Destiny Okon, also a sophomore from Van Nuys, Calif., will return in the midfield. The offensive starting lineup from 2019 will also return this spring.
While another MIAA Tournament run may be on the horizon, the Britons are taking the season one step at a time.
“We are excited to get into conference play in a few weeks, and I am looking forward to seeing our team grow as a unit and as a family throughout this season,” said Merian.
The men’s tennis team finished 2019 at 7-9. The team graduated four out of six starters from 2019, however a strong freshman class is already paying dividends for the Britons. Brett Gurzell, a first year from Rochester Hills, Mich., is starting at number one singles.
“He is playing well and is excited to continue improving in that role,” said assistant tennis coach Alex Dowley.
The team is led by captain Toma Shngoo, the team’s lone senior from Clio, Mich.
“Toma is molding our young players on what this conference is all about,” said Dowley.
Looking to improve in conference play, the Britons will take on top ranked Kalamazoo College on April 19 and Hope College on April 22.
“The MIAA is a tough conference, but if we can play strong and smart through difficult points, I believe there is a shot at an MIAA tournament berth,” said Dowley.
Like the men’s team, the women’s tennis squad has shining young talent. Breh Ruger, a first year from Battle Creek, Mich., is starting at number one singles for the Britons.
In addition, the team is returning its sophomore core from 2019, Saige Jost, from Ann Arbor, Mich., and Katie Valade, from Novi, Mich.
“Saige and Katie were starters for us last year, and seeing them continue to grow in that role will be huge for our team,” said Dowley.
Lone senior and captain Marceline Redick is leading the team to a hopeful MIAA tournament berth.
“She is a huge part in our success,” said Dowley.
The Britons will begin conference play on March 28 against Adrian College.
Men’s Track and Field
In the 2019 outdoor season, the men’s track and field team finished fourth in the MIAA. The team was also fourth in the 2020 MIAA Indoor Championships, which concluded two weeks ago on Feb. 29.
“The men are striving for improvement on the indoor fourth place MIAA finish, which was disappointing for most of us,” said senior distance runner Zachary Reynolds.
Talents on the roster this spring include Cullen Cox, a sophomore from Leslie, Mich., in the sprints, Kejuan Frazier, a junior from Augusta, Ga., in the shot put, and Adam Ditri, a senior from Novi, Mich., in the distance events. However, so many people score in track that the Britons must rely on the entire roster to improve in the MIAA.
With the talent they have, the Britons are sure they can improve.
“We are hopeful that we can do better at the outdoor championships in a couple months,” said Reynolds.
The 2020 Outdoor MIAA Championships will take place at Alma College on April 30 and May 1.
Women’s Track and Field
The women finished 2019 second in the MIAA last spring. At the 2020 MIAA Indoor Championships, the Britons also finished second.
Layla Wilks, a junior from Chicago, Ill., and Alexis McGinley, a sophomore from Bellevue, Mich., will be key contributors in the sprint events. Karen Carroll, a senior from Parma, Mich., has potential to score in the pole vault as well.
The distance crew, consisting of Megan McCulloch, a first year from Marine City, Mich., Peyton Brooks, a sophomore from Frankfort, Mich., and Jordan Revenaugh, a junior from Rochester, Mich., have potential to score too.
While the team has many talents, everybody plays a role for the Britons.
“The top eight athletes will score in the conference, so anyone that can score is a vital member of the team,” said senior Karen Carroll.
Teamwork may be vital to a top MIAA finish.
“The team is so diverse that it is incredible to see everyone come together,” said Carroll. “As long as we work hard for the next eight weeks, we should compete well.”