The excitement is building after the announcement of Dave Mitroff as the first Cornerstone baseball coach on November 2, 2011. Shortly after, the announcement regarding the ground breaking of the new baseball complex built up more excitement. The wait is finally over as the Golden Eagles baseball program will begin its first annual fall practice today at the baseball complex. Cornerstone, who will take to the newly constructed stadium officially for the first time will throw out the first pitch of the fall at 3 p.m.
The team will hold practices every day of the week except Sunday. Practices will be open to the public. The team plans to hold intrasquad scrimmages on Saturday mornings. For practice times, please consult Cornerstone baseball's website. The Cornerstone baseball team kicks off the first game under the lights on Friday, September 28, where they will face opponent Spring Arbor at 7 p.m. The Golden Eagles will have two more fall games set which include games on October 5th at 7:30 p.m. vs. Taylor University and October 6th at 2 p.m. vs. Kalamazoo College. Fall practice runs through October 13 in preparation for the 2012 campaign, Cornerstone's first season. The first game to be placed in the record books will be in Memphis, Tennessee vs. Victory University.
During this year's 2012-2013 season, the team's first annual conference held scout day will be available for juniors and seniors who Mitroff and staff feel are draft qualified. A few highlighted players that have the potential to attend scout day would be John Blasher, Zachary Harbison, David Mitroff, and Cullen Montgomery.
During the first season, the Golden Eagles look to build a dynasty with winning traditions on and off the field. "We are excited to begin the season at Cornerstone University, you can't ask for better facilities than what we have at Cornerstone University. It is like heaven on earth and we feel like all the guys are here for the right reasons," said assistant coach Ron Engels.
Players and Coaches React:
The Golden Eagles enter their first season with a brand new roster filled with 41 new faces. It is evident that the players and coaching staff are extremely excited about the first season.
The talk amongst the team is uplifting and exciting after coming off a 3 day retreat in Newago, Michigan. Here the team built friendships, unity, and memories with highlights that included playing paintball capture the flag, basketball, swimming and baptism. Coach Engels noted the impact of the retreat and the camaraderie on the team, "the past retreat was unbelievable how the guys were able to come together. Of course there will be bumps in the road, but this team is extremely tight knit and we are excited about this team."
Junior Cullen Montgomery (outfield/pitcher) comes from Coral Springs, Florida, where he was recruited by the Golden Eagles. "I chose Cornerstone because I felt like it had the most impact to build my academic, spiritual, and baseball life. Most schools do not have half the facilities that we have available to our team at Cornerstone. Being able to play here in this atmosphere and in this environment is such a blessing. I am excited to see what God has planned for this team. Everyone in the area has an opinion about this team, the facilities, and the way we act. We have a buzz about us going around campus and Grand Rapids. This is a huge platform for us to represent Cornerstone and Cornerstone baseball. We have the capability of putting a huge Christ-like impact on the community, conference, and around the nation," stated Montgomery.
Cuban born but raised in Miami, freshman catcher Johnny Rodriquez learned about Cornerstone through the NCSA website. "I have never played on turf and the stadium was a big reason why I chose Cornerstone. I am excited about the new team because we share a strong bond and offer a lot of support. I could not be more thankful for the coaching staff as well. They practice what they preach and are great role models for every player on this team," noted Rodriquez.
Nathan Kendrick, a freshman, comes to Cornerstone as an outfield/middle infield player. "I found out about Cornerstone through my hitting coach. God opened the door for me to come to Cornerstone and I walked through it. I am most excited about this fall because no player has a starting position. This fall will be an extremely competitive off season leading into spring," imputed Kendrick.
Bahamas freshman, Geren Albury, comes to Cornerstone as a shortstop after being recruited by the current coaching staff. "My parents wanted me to attend a Christian school and I could not turn down the opportunity to jump into a new program and be able to help start a dynasty. I have played on turf fields before and I love how there is a true hop to them. This means that the ball will come bouncing right to you off the field. We have strong team camaraderie already because we all have strong work ethics and we put in the hours together. This will be instrumental to our game results," stated Albury.
Freshman from Abbotsford, British Columbia, Tyler Krahn, came to Cornerstone after coach Mitroff came to the dugout asking for Christians. "I was the only one on my high school team who was a Christian, so I raised my hand and was able to get recruited that way. Everywhere else I have played, players thought about them but that is not the case here. I am truly excited about this season and this coaching staff. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity that God has given me," indicated Krahn.
Head coach Dave Mitroff enters the program with more than 800 games of experience coaching. Mitroff has been a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association for 13 years and served as head coach at Arlington Cardinals Summer collegiate/Semi-pro team for seven years. The team won the nation championship in 1989. He has also coached multiple teams to youth championships and nationally ranked tournament teams. Some of his proudest moments include serving as head coach of the 1994 National Champion Chi-town Cardinals and back to back Fox Valley Conference Champions in 2009 and 2010.
Pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, Chuck Lowitzki, came to Cornerstone on November of 2011 after serving as the pitching and catching coach at Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He spent 13 years at Prairie Ridge under Glen Pecoraro, where eight of his pitchers went to division one schools and three signed professional contracts. In addition to his pitchers, he had four catchers go on to play at the division one level. Throughout his coaching career, Lowitzki has coached privately at both Players Choice Academy and Grand Slam USA. He has attended the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) national coaching clinic and convention eight times and the Baseball Coaches Association (BCA) national coaching clinic three times.
Assistant coach, Ron Engels, a native of Wyoming, Michigan, comes from recently coaching Wyoming Park High School. At Wyoming Park, Engels was able to coach the team to a State Championship, three runner up State Championships, 15 conference titles, 11 district titles, and seven regional titles. Engels also has been helping coach baseball at Hudsonville High School since 1994. He has served as president of the MHSBCA for two years, selected to the MHSBCA Hall of Fame and received the coach of the Year for 1980, 1984, 1992, and 2001.
Junior JV head coach, Peter Millar, played college baseball for four years in Wisconsin. He is the national director for Global Baseball International and will also serve as a facilitator with the Global Missions Planning at Cornerstone program.
Follow the Golden Eagles
Come out and support the Cornerstone baseball team this fall as they begin fall ball today at 3 p.m. Follow up-to-date information, stats, and activities on their Facebook page.