2017 -- Warren Kent III (14-19 overall, 6-8 in West Michigan Conference; Oakridge Champs): For the third consecutive season, the Norse finished with a less-than-.500 record, but the season did not start out that way. Through the first 20 games, NM had a 12-8 record with a team batting average of .303 while averaging seven runs per game. At that point in the season, eight players had a better than .300 batting average. However, over the final 13 games, the team went 2-11 with a team batting average of .210 while scoring just 29 runs (2.2 runs per game). Only one player batted better than .293 over that span. The Norse did add a trophy to the school’s collection, taking second place at the Boyne City Invitational. NOTE: All three of NM’s opponents at the invitational (Rudyard, Boyne City and Alpena) won a district title as did three other opponents (Whitehall, Montague and Muskegon Catholic Central). The Norse recorded a school-record seven shutouts; unfortunately, that is the number of times NM was shut out. NM also played 14 games where the game was decided by three or fewer runs; NM went 7-7 in those contests. Finally, the Norsemen were outscored by their opponents by 37 runs (209-172) for the second straight year. And the 209 runs surrendered were second most in the Coach Kent era.
The team was led by senior All-State outfielder Brighton Schofield, who paced the team in most offensive categories as well as most pitching categories. Offensively, Brighton, who was the team MVP, batted a team-high .451 (41-for-91). That average is the 15th best in the history of NM baseball. His 41 hits, also a team-high, are the 10th-most in school history. His team-leading 13 doubles put him in a tie for fifth on the all-time season list. Brighton also led the team with two triples, 20 RBI and 25 runs. Additionally, he tied for the team lead with 16 stolen bases. In the conference, Brighton, who was a First Team All-Conference outfielder, batted an even .500 (17-for-34) to lead all WMC outfielders. His eight WMC doubles also led conference outfielders. On the mound, Brighton paced the team with 74 strikeouts in 55 innings while posting a 2.80 ERA. He finished with a 4-5 record.
Three other seniors (Jake Bean, Alex Slocum and Dalton Fuller) saw significant playing time. While Jake, a three-year starter at catcher, struggled to get untracked offensively, he did add his name to the NM record books when he hit two home runs in the 18-8 victory at Hesperia. This was the 19th time in Norse history that a player had hit at least two home runs in a game. Also, Jake had five sacrifices (tied for the team lead) this year, putting him at 11 for his career, which is tied for third on the all-time NM list. Jake’s strength was his defense where he committed just two errors (both in the loss to Muskegon Catholic Central) in 191 chances. For his work behind the plate, Jake was selected as the Gold Glove Award winner. Additionally, Jake became the first winner of the K2 Coach’s Award, which is dedicated to the memory of former assistant coach Warren Kent Jr., who passed away in February. Alex, the everyday center fielder and part-time pitcher, was an atypical lead-off hitter, drawing just two walks in 114 plate appearances. However, he did post the team’s third-best batting average (.312). His 109 at bats put him into a tie for fourth on the NM all-time season list. On the mound, Alex became the first pitcher to start and win both games of a doubleheader under coach Kent when he defeated Hart twice. He was the only pitcher to finish with a winning record (3-2). For his classroom work, Alex was Academic All-District. Dalton, who saw playing time in right field, first base and designated hitter, just missed the .300 mark, finishing with a .293 batting average. Dalton’s 10 career sacrifices put him in a tie for fifth on the all-time NM list.
Freshman Brenden Moat, who joined the varsity at the midway point and became the first freshman to gain a varsity letter under coach Kent, was the team’s second-leading hitter (.325). Brenden made a big splash over his first 18 games, posting a .412 average; however, down the stretch, he hit a slump, batting .154 over the final eight games. In the conference, Brenden was named Honorable Mention as an outfielder while batting .480 (12-for-25).
Junior Brett Huff, the back-up catcher, saw most of his playing time at the designated hitter position. He finished with a .281 average. Brett, who went from a .200 batting average prior to Boyne and batted at a .324 clip after Boyne, was selected as the team’s Most Improved Player. Additionally, Brett was honored with Academic All-District for his classroom work.
Sophomores Jesse Cooke and Mack Young should man the middle infield spots for the next two years. Jesse, who played shortstop and pitched, was All-Conference as an infielder. In the WMC, Jesse batted .345 (10-for-29) with 10 RBI and nine runs. On the mound, Jesse, who sustained a hip flexor injury at the Boyne Invitational, had a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde type of season. Through his first 22 innings, Jesse struck out 31 and walked just one while over his final 30 innings, Jesse struck out 22 and walked 20. Overall, Jesse finished with 53 K’s in 52 innings while posting a 3-4 record. Mack was a mid-season call-up and was plugged into the second-base position. He just missed the .300 mark by one hit, posting a .298 batting average.
Four juniors (Tommy Gautraud, Jimmy Cobb, Ryan Kenny and Matt Kraley) had varying degrees of success. Tommy, who played both second and third base while batting in the No. 2 spot, tied for the team lead with 16 stolen bases and tied for the team lead with five sacrifices. Jimmy, who played left field, shortstop and pitcher, was the only player to play all 33 games. He also led the team with 116 plate appearances, which can be attributed to his improved plate discipline as he cut his strikeouts down from 23 to 13 and increased his walks from seven to a team-high 20. Jimmy also led the team with four hit by pitches and tied for the team in sacrifices with five. On the mound, Jimmy experienced some arm trouble, limiting him to 15 innings. Ryan, a lefty, saw most of his playing time on the mound while also seeing some playing time in left field. On the mound, Ryan tossed 47 innings while striking out 34; however, he led the team with 31 walks. He did lead the team with two saves. Now, has three saves, which ties the school record held by Jimmy Cobb. Matt’s role was defensive first baseman, where he succeeded with a fielding percentage of .965 with four errors in 113 chances.
The final four players (senior Sean Bickford, junior Mitchel Wolters, junior Jared DeMint and sophomore Brendan Gannon) saw minimal playing time. Both Sean and Mitchel were named Academic All-District for their classroom work.
Record Score Interesting Fact
0-1 *Whitehall 8, NM 0 Lost 9th straight opener; Vikings' Casey Huizenga no-hits the Norse
0-2 *Whitehall 5, NM 2 Jesse Cooke single, double
1-2 NM 13, Cedar Springs 4 School's 750th win; scored 11 runs in top of 7th; Brighton Schofield 2 doubles, 2 runs
2-2 *NM 3, Shelby 0 Schofield & Ryan Kenny combine on 2-hitter, 10 K's; Schofield single, double
2-3 *Shelby 14, NM 2 Tigers score 8 first-inning runs (6 unearned); Jimmy Cobb single, 2 doubles
3-3 NM 9, WM Christian 6 Norse hold onto 9-0 lead; Cobb 2 doubles, 3-run HR, 2 runs
3-4 WM Christian 6, NM 4 Defense commits 6 errors; Cobb 3 singles, 3 stolen bases
3-5 *Ravenna 7, NM 1 Schofield HR
4-5 *NM 9, Ravenna 4 Alex Slocum single, triple, 2 runs, 2 RBI
5-5 NM 18, Hesperia 8 Jake Bean 2 HR, 3 RBI (19th time in school history a player hit 2 or more HR)
6-5 NM 6, Rudyard 5 Boyne City Invitational; Schofield career-high 13 K's; Slocum 2 singles, 3 RBI
6-6 Boyne City 5, NM 3 Boyne City Invitational; Dalton Fuller/Cooke 2 singles
6-7 Alpena 14, NM 4 Boyne City Invitational Championship; Schofield single, triple, 2 runs
7-7 *NM 19, Hart 6 12-run third inning; Brett Huff 2 singles, double
8-7 *NM 9, Hart 0 Slocum starts and wins both ends of DH; Fuller double, 4 RBI
9-7 NM 7, Orchard View 3 Cardinals had 3-0 lead in first inning; Schofield single, double, 2 runs, 2 RBI
9-8 Ravenna 10, NM 4 County; Tommy Gautraud/Fuller 2 singles
10-8 NM 13, Muskegon 1 6 runs in 1st inning; Huff 3-run double, 2 runs
11-8 *NM 8, Mason CC 5 Cooke HR, 3 runs
12-8 *NM 10, Mason CC 8 NM had 23 hits in the DH; Schofield 2 singles, double, 2 runs
12-9 Muskegon CC 11, NM 5 NM scored 4 on top of 1st; Schofield 2 singles, 2 runs, 2 RBI
12-10 Reeths-Puffer 3, NM 2 R-P scored go-ahead run in 6th on 1st-and-3rd steal: Mack Young/Bean RBI single
12-11 Reeths-Puffer 13, NM 1 Schofield 2 singles
12-12 *Montague 3, NM 0 7 runners LOB; Schofield single, double
12-13 *Montague 9, NM 7 Wildcats broke 7-7 tie with 2 runs in top of 7th; Slocum single, double, 2 runs
12-14 Holton 11, NM 0 Pitchers walked 8 and hit 3 batters; Bean/Sean Bickford double
13-14 NM 9, Kent City 8 11 innings; broke 10-game losing streak in extra-inning games; Schofield 3 singles
13-15 *Oakridge 3, NM 2 Both runs scored in bottom of the 7th; Four players with a single
13-16 *Oakridge 12, NM 0 Brenden Moat 2 singles
13-17 Zeeland West 4, NM 0 Slocum 2 singles
13-18 Zeeland West 13, NM 0 Schofield double
14-18 NM 3, WM Christian 2 Districts; all 3 runs scored in 1st; Schofield had no-hitter through 6; Fuller single, RBI
14-19 Montague 2, NM 0 District Finals; Norse shut out for 7th time (school record); Fuller 2 singles