With trips south to warmer weather looming for college baseball and softball teams, a number of area players are getting ready for the opening pitch to their seasons.
At Muskegon Community College, the Jayhawks' baseball team will travel to Florence, S.C., and then Myrtle Beach, S.C., for 11 games during their spring break trip from Feb. 24 through March 1.
The Jayhawks feature three local players on their roster, including arguably the ace of their pitching staff, Grand Haven graduate Adam Poel.
Poel, a sophomore, earned team MVP honors last season after going 7-4 with a 1.75 earned run average. He also struck out 80 batters in 87 innings of work.
Poel has already signed to continue his baseball career at Grand Valley State next season.
Also returning to the Jayhawks' pitching staff will be sophomore Cody Merkins of Fruitport, while freshman Brody Anderson, a Grand Haven graduate, will also look to make an impact on the mound. Merkins was 1-0 in 11 innings of work last season.
At Davenport University, Grand Haven's Jordan Anderson will be preparing for his senior season with the Panthers.
The left-handed pitcher was an All-Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference honorable mention selection as a starting pitcher last year. He made 11 starts for the Panthers and led the team with a 7-2 record and a 3.73 earned run average. He also stuck out 41 batters in 60 innings.
Davenport begins its season today in Barbourville, Ky., against Union College. They'll also travel to face Georgetown College in the Bluegrass State.
After also playing hockey with Aquinas College, Grand Haven's Doug Zelenka will switch gears and battle for time in the outfield as a freshman on the Saints' baseball squad.
The Saints travel to six different cities in Florida in early March to open their season — including the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers, Lakeland.
In softball, Evie Lorimer, the reigning Miss Softball Award winner in the state of Michigan, is set to embark on her freshman season with Central Michigan University. The Chippewas are predicted to finish second behind Ball State in the Mid-American Conference's West Division in the league's preseason poll.
Lorimer is listed as a first baseman for the Chippewas. They open their season on Friday, Feb. 15 against Bradley University at the New Mexico Tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. They'll also face the host Lobos twice, Hampton, and Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne.
Also on the Chippewas' roster is Grand Haven native Michelle Dornan, a freshman pitcher. Dornan pitched at the prep level at Allendale High Schoool.