Column: Early season tests will help Chiefs

Published 1:09 am Thursday, April 10, 2003

By By the time the Dowagiac baseball and softball teams get into conference and divisional play later this month, they will have faced some strong competition.
The Chieftain baseball team has already swept defending state champion Decatur and will get another serious test this afternoon when it travels to Three Oaks to face perennial powerhouse River Valley (see related story this page).
I have been impressed with the Chieftains early on. Dowagiac has rallied to win a couple of games and easily could be undefeated.
Dowagiac let one get away at Edwardsburg, but that loss could be a blessing in disguise.
The Chieftains have several solid pitchers which at the high school level is extremely important.
Dowagiac has shown the ability to hit the ball well and has shown some flashes of power.
If it can continue to improve defensively and maintain and improve its hitting and pitching, then the Chieftains could be a factor in the Big-16 Conference West Division race.
Dowagiac's softball team will finally get to open its season on Friday against Berrien Springs.
The Chieftains have high expectations for this coming season.
Dowagiac will know where it stands after Saturday when it faces some of the best competition in northern Indiana and Michigan at the Chieftain Invitational.
If you want to see quality softball, then Dowagiac is the place to be on Saturday.
Three-time defending Division 2 state champion Portage Northern will be here. Kalamazoo Christian, which has won four out of the last five Division 3 state titles will be here.
Walled Lake Western, which was defeated in the Division 2 semifinals by Northern will be here.
That would be a nice tournament field all by itself. But Dowagiac has also invited four Indiana schools.
Andrean, which was 30-3 last season and won the tournament, is ranked No. 2 in Division 2A.
Crown Point, which reached last year's finals before losing, finished with a losing record in 2002.
Elkhart Memorial was 22-6 a season ago and didn't win a game at the Chieftain Invitational.
Mishawaka Marian was 19-10 a year ago.
This tournament has become extremely popular throughout the state.
Last year Farmington Hills Mercy, which was ranked No. 1 in the preseason, asked to join the field.
Other coaches have inquired about participating in the Chieftain invitational should a spot open up.
So even if you have something else to do on Saturday, come to the Chieftain Invitational and catch some great high school softball.
You won't regret it.