Manistee to host baseball, softball districts

Not all that long ago, Manistee didn’t have usable baseball and softball diamonds of its own.

Now the Chippewas will be able to showcase a pair in the postseason for the second time in three years after they were chosen to host Division 3 baseball and softball district tournaments in the spring.

“I think it goes to show the hard work of many people as far as how far our facilities have come over the last several years,” said Manistee athletic director Kenn Kott. “Five years ago, we had two practices diamonds and without a whole lot of school funding and with a lot of volunteer hours and a lot of volunteer dollars and fundraising, we’ve now got two wonderful competition fields.”

The baseball diamond was renovated first and opened for play in 2009, the softball diamond held its first game in 2010 and both hosted district tournaments in 2011.

“It’s always nice to not have to travel, not have to make those plans and the kids are a lot more comfortable with it,” said Manistee baseball coach Troy Nezki. “I think it says a lot for the facilities we have down there.”

The tournament draw won’t take place for a while but the teams in both baseball and softball will be Manistee, Hart, Montague, Mason County Central and Shelby.

While the Manistee baseball team is looking for its first district title since 2005, the softball team has won five in a row. Two have come at Shelby and one each at MHS, Pine River and Mason County Central.

“It’s definitely great having the home-field advantage,” said Manistee softball coach Denise Lijewski. “That’s definitely going to be a nice advantage for us.”

Winning a sixth straight district title is obviously a goal, but the Chippewas don’t want to stop there.

“With this group of girls coming up and returning as well, I think we have the potential to go beyond districts,” Lijewski said. “It’s just a matter of how much work and effort the girls want to put in and how dedicated they are to work hard enough to push beyond the next level, to regionals and even beyond.”

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