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Who’s the best Muskegon-area baseball player we’ll miss seeing most in 2020? Vote now

MLive - GrandRapids/Muskegon/Kalamazoo logo MLive - GrandRapids/Muskegon/Kalamazoo 4/20/2020 By Scott DeCamp,

The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of high school spring sports in Michigan, but we’re still saluting some of the better Muskegon-area players who were primed for big seasons.

The idea is to highlight these 11 players, but MLive Muskegon Chronicle also is having a fan poll that poses the following question: Which Muskegon-area baseball player are you going to miss watching most in 2020?

The poll will remain open until 9 a.m. Friday, April 24. You may vote as many times as you’d like.

Last week, we honored softball players in the Muskegon area. Bre Adamczak of North Muskegon won a spirited fan poll over future Aquinas College roommate Kaelyn Stafford of Grand Haven.

Below are capsules for 11 baseball players in the Muskegon area and most of them are seniors. They’re listed alphabetically.

Not every school in the area is represented, but there are some fine players showcased here:

Charlie Branch, North Muskegon

The junior plays corner infield, pitches and hits in the middle of the lineup for the Norsemen. Last season, Branch batted .329 with an .855 OPS and six doubles. On the mound, he finished with a 4-2 record, 1.51 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with 68 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. He earned All-West Michigan Conference and all-district honors in 2019.

Heath Cory, Mona Shores

The senior was valuable for the Sailors as a pitcher and utility player. Last season, Cory finished with a 3-3 pitching record and 0.778 ERA, missing the Mona Shores single-season ERA record by 1/100th of a point. He struck out 23 in 36 innings. At the plate, the college prospect batted .321 with 10 runs and 10 RBIs. Sailors coach Brandon Bard said that Cory is athletic and has a “great baseball mind.”

Austin Fairchild, Oakridge

The senior was poised for a big senior season for the Eagles after playing a key role during the team’s Division 2 state semifinal run last year. As a pitcher, Fairchild posted a 3-1 record with a 0.23 ERA. The switch-hitting shortstop overcame a bit of a slow start at the plate and finished with a .296 average with 28 runs scored and 20 RBI. His diving play up the middle saved the Eagles’ super-regional win.

Ryan Gillings, Muskegon Catholic Central

The MCC senior earned Division 4 first-team all-state honors in 2019 as the Crusaders’ starting catcher. The Aquinas College signee batted .422 with 15 doubles and one home run. Defensively, he allowed only one passed ball in 145 innings behind the plate. He helped the Crusaders win Lakes 8 Activities Conference, county and district titles en route to a 27-3 record.

Chase Keller, Orchard View

The senior earned all-Lakes 8 Activities Conference and all-district honors each of the last two seasons. The Cardinals’ left-handed pitcher was 4-3 last season with a 1.96 ERA and struck out 60. At the plate, Keller batted .377. He would have been a four-year starter had the season been taken place this spring.

Nick Kleinheksel, Fruitport

The senior infielder earned Division 2 second-team all-state honors last season. He also was a two-time all-OK Black Conference and all-district selection. In 2019, Kleinheksel batted .452 with 10 doubles, 22 runs scored, 21 RBIS and 15 stolen bases. In conference games, he batted .518. Kleinheksel, who also earned academic all-state accolades, will play at Muskegon Community College.

Owen Krizan, Grand Haven

The Buccaneers senior earned all-OK Red first-team and all-district honors each of the last two seasons. Krizan played shortstop and pitched for the Bucs. In 2019, he batted .291 with three doubles, 17 runs scored, eight RBIs and five stolen bases. As a pitcher, he was 4-3 with a 1.39 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. Krizan is taking his talents to Lansing Community College.

Isiah Lindsey, Spring Lake

The senior manned the shortstop position and also pitched for the Lakers, who were expecting a big year this season. In 2019, Lindsey batted .410 with four doubles, two triples, 16 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and six runs scored. On the mound, he went 3-1 with one save, an ERA of 0.80, and a 46-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35 1/3 innings.

Johnny Monette, Montague

The senior was instrumental to the Wildcats’ success as a catcher and outfielder in addition to his production at the plate. In 2019, Monette batted .394 with 28 stolen bases and 19 RBIs. In his career, he went 78-of-210 at the plate for a .371 average. He batted No. 3 in the lineup last season, and Montague coach Kevin Buchberger said the speedy Monette would hit in the Nos. 1 or 3 spots this spring.

Nick Moser, Western Michigan Christian

The senior would have been a four-year varsity starter for the Warriors. Last season, he earned all-conference, all-district and all-region honors in Division 3, when he batted .436 with five doubles, eight triples, 13 stolen bases and 35 RBIs. Moser also is known for being a strong defender in the outfield.

Kobe Schalk, Reeths-Puffer

The senior earned all-OK Black Conference and all-district honors as the Rockets’ left fielder in 2019. Schalk batted .371 with a .480 on-base percentage with 32 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. He also sported a .986 fielding percentage. Reeths-Puffer coach Butch Attig believes with seniors like Schalk, Jason Ledford and Jarret Wall, the Rockets could have competed for conference, county and district titles.

Note: If you’re unable to view the fan poll below with the app you’re using, then CLICK HERE.

Related stories:

North Muskegon softball’s Bre Adamczak edges future Aquinas College roomate in fan poll

See which Muskegon-area softball players were saluted last week and how the voting turned out

Nominations needed for 5 greatest athletes since 2000 from Ravenna, Oakridge

Presenting the 5 greatest athletes from Fruitport since 2000

Presenting the 5 greatest athletes from Reeths-Puffer since 2000

West Michigan Conference expansion talks heat up; CSAA offers another option


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