BRIGHTON — So far, so good.
Despite losing most of its starting lineup to graduation last year, a look at the KLAA West standings sees Brighton in a spot few might have suspected — in first place.
The Bulldogs stayed there on Monday, routing Walled Lake Central 11-1 under bright sunshine and temperatures more like late May.
“Guys are putting the ball in play and we’ve had good at-bats,” Brighton coach Charlie Christner said. “I’ve been pleased with the at-bats we’ve had since the very beginning against Kettering last week.”
Brighton (4-0-1 overall and KLAA West) got the kind of production Christner has been looking for at the top of the order.
Austin Ford, Trevor Hopman and Jared Dokey combined for eight hits and six runs scored in 12 plate appearances in a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule.
“I think the biggest thing is we came up hacking today,” Hopman said. “Austin had to fill in for a different player who couldn’t play today, and it was his first time at the top of the order.”
That player was Rudy Ramirez, who did not dress for the game. Dokey moved from first to third in the order and Ford moved from ninth to first.
It worked for the Bulldogs on Monday.
“We swung the bat well again today,” Christner said. “It starts at the top of our order. Guys just keep getting on base and making things happen. When we do that, it just makes everything a lot easier.”
It also made things easier for pitcher Jack Hook, who got out of bases-loaded jams in the third and fifth en route to a complete-game victory.
The Bulldogs effectively put the game out of reach with six runs in the third.
The Bulldogs travel to Howell, which is in second place at 4-1 in the division, for a doubleheader on Wednesday.
“I think for us the big goal is to win a division championship and a league championship,” Hopman said. “But right now the biggest thing in our minds should be ‘keep hacking.’ We’ve been putting up a lot of runs, and that’s what’s been putting us up in these games.”
Howell 11, Walled Lake Western 1
HOWELL — Bryan Rendell was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and scored three runs for the Highlanders (8-4, 4-1), who put the game out of reach with an 8-run fourth.
Evan Maize threw a 2-hitter, walking one and striking out four in a game that ended after five innings due to the mercy rule.
Hartland 3, Walled Lake Northern 0
HARTLAND — John Baker threw a 2-hitter, striking out 11, in recording the shutout. He had a pair of hits at the plate and Cade Martin drove in two runs with a double for the Eagles (5-3, 3-2).
Howell 7, Walled Lake Western 0
HOWELL — Erin Utter threw a shutout for the Highlanders (3-2, 2-2).
Walled Lake Northern 7, Hartland 3
HARTLAND — Clare Minsker had two hits for the Eagles (2-5, 1-3), who allowed four unearned runs.
Lakeland 7, Pinckney 1
PINCKNEY — Shawna Wallace had a hit and drove in the only run for the Pirates (2-4, 1-3).
Portland 4-11, Fowlerville 2-1
FOWLERVILLE — Leah Ash allowed two earned runs and struck out six in the opener for the Gladiators.
Brighton 18, Northville 14
BRIGHTON — Hannah Kelley had seven goals and Jessica Daniels added four for the Bulldogs (3-2 overall). Raquelle Williams scored twice while Mackenzie Kelbert had a goal and three assists.
Hartland 10, South Lyon 7
HARTLAND — Emily Beazley, Teagan Laier and Jordan Parry each scored twice for Hartland (4-2).
Hartland 16, Novi 5
NOVI — Scott Wistinghausen led the Eagles with four goals while Dylan Couture and Justin Light had three goals apiece for Hartland (4-1).
BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Howell took second at the invitational with a 320 score, with Brock Tennyson leading the way with a 75.
The Highlanders tied with Birmingham Brother Rice, but won on the fifth-man tiebreaker. Both were seven strokes behind champion Detroit Catholic Central.
Hartland was seventh in the event, shooting 326. Brendan Ludwig shot a 75 to pace the Eagles.