Highlanders host Northville for KLAA baseball title

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WHITE LAKE — After clinching the program’s first Lakes Conference baseball championship on Monday, the Howell baseball team had a muted celebration.

A couple of photos and that was it.

But the further the season goes, the bigger the honors for the Highlanders, who will play for the KLAA title today in a game that can be heard on The Livingston Post starting at 4:20 p.m.

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The game will be at Howell High School, where the visiting Mustangs will be trying to repeat as KLAA champions.

First baseman Nick Rauch endorsed the quick turnaround.

“It’s a great thing,” he said, smiling. “You never want to overthink baseball. It’s a simple sport. You just go out and play.”

It’s rarely simple, of course, but the Highlanders make it look that way due to  solid fundamentals, standout pitching and a one-for-all, all-for-one approach.

“We’re definitely pulling together and coming together as a team,” said third baseman Johnny Shields, who had the game-winning hit in Monday’s 4-2 win at Lakeland for the Lakes Conference title. “We’ve been working hard all year to come together as a team. It feels good to win.”

The Mustangs know that feeling, too. They come into the game with a 20-4 overall mark, including a doubleheader sweep at Brighton last month, and are playing in the KLAA championship game for the third year in a row.

But Howell (23-6) comes in with a 10-game winning streak and will likely start hard-throwing lefty Sam Weatherly, who struck out 12 and tossed a one-hitter at Milford last week.

On the other hand, the Highlanders are confident in whomever sets foot on the field.

“Everyone did their part and just did their jobs,” Rauch said after Monday’s win. “It’s what you need to do to get wins and winning programs.”