Column: What a strange spring it has been

Published 1:22 pm Monday, April 24, 2023

It has been a strange spring, to say the least.

With the roller coaster weather we have had through the first month and a half, it has been hard to assess who will be our top local teams this spring. Despite battling snow, rain, and generally cold temperatures, a few teams are starting to emerge as ones to watch as we head into the month of May.

In softball, Buchanan and Edwardsburg have gotten off to great starts, while Brandywine and Dowagiac are teams that could make some noise come tournament time. The Bucks, who were an honorable mention selection in the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association preseason poll, lost its first game of the season Saturday when they jumped up two divisions to take on perennial state powerhouse Portage Northern. Like Buchanan, the Eddies have just one loss on their record as they head into the final week of April.

Buchanan and Edwardsburg have several things in common. Among them are that they have a lot of experience on their respective rosters. Both had several capable pitchers, and both of them hit the ball well up and down the batting order.

The Bobcats and Chieftains are teams I expect to continue improving throughout the season. The key for both squads will be getting consistent pitching. Softball is a sport where one, a pitcher, can dominate nine. If you have a pitcher that can go out and mow down the opponents, it will likely be successful.

Baseball has no clear-cut favorite, as most of the six teams that Leader Publications covers are around the .500 mark through the first couple of weeks of the 2023 season.

Brandywine has the best record at 6-3, while Niles is 6-4 with new Head Coach Jim Brawley. Buchanan (7-7), Dowagiac (4-4) and Edwardsburg (3-3) are hoping to turn around their fortunes as the weather improves and they get to play more games. Having an inconsistent schedule, especially in baseball, makes it hard for some teams to get into a rhythm. As we head into May, I expect some of these teams to get hot and challenge .for conference championships and then make some noise in the postseason.

Brandywine and Edwardsburg are the top tennis teams so far this spring. Both have played challenging schedules and have shown they are up to the challenge. The Bobcats and Eddies have qualified for the postseason multiple times over the past few years, and I expect them to do so again this season. Buchanan is an up-and-coming team. The Bucks are off to a great start, hopefully, using that momentum to build on as the season progresses.

Cassopolis looks to be our top golf team. The Rangers are off to a good start in Southwest 10 Conference play. Cassopolis has also beefed up its non-conference schedule to better prepare itself for the state tournament. I am waiting to make a judgment on the other five teams, as their body of work has been limited by the weather.

Our soccer teams have gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but I expect consistent improvement that would have them ready for the state tournament. Like golf, I will wait to assess which teams have the best shot to make a run in the state tournament.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at