A year after CMA didn’t have enough players to field a team, pitcher Omar Compton and center fielder Kyle McKenzie have led the Pharaohs’ rapid ascension to a berth in the Detroit Public School League baseball playoffs.
“Not only have they led us on the field, but both of them were willing to step up and help as we tried to develop some of these newcomers,’’ CMA coach Ray Stephen said of his senior duo, the PSL Proud Strong Learners of the Week. “They have been very unselfish and very helpful to the coaches in seeing that this team got to a higher level.”
The Pharaohs’ spirits couldn’t be higher after finishing the PSL West Division schedule with an unbeaten 8-0 record. They play Finney, the No. 2 seed in the East, in Friday’s semifinals (May 18) at Western High School, with the winner advancing to face the Osborn-Ford semifinal winner in the PSL East-West championship game at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 23 at Comerica Park.
For Compton and McKenzie, the swift rejuvenation of CMA baseball has been the culmination of their day-by-day team emphasis on and off the field. Still, even they’ve been surprised.
“Our school doesn’t have that many athletes, but the ones that do come out, we work with them,’’ McKenzie said. “Before the season, we told everybody to come focused and be ready to practice hard. A lot of kids hadn’t played baseball, so we knew we had to prepare better. That’s what we’ve done and the results came out well.”
“It was very disappointing last year what happened to our team,’’ Compton said. “But I’m glad this year we have enough players and we’re undefeated. That’s pretty good.”
Stephen, in his first year as CMA’s coach, said a bad back has limited his ability to work with the players but credits his senior tandem with “doing things that coaches usually do.”
As players, Compton is a crafty right-hander who commands a good fastball and change-up that he uses to keep batters off-balanced, and McKenzie is a fleet-footed centerfielder and the team’s leading hitter with a .700 batting average (14-for-20) with 21 RBI.
In the final regular-season game, both players were given the utmost respect at the plate as Ford opted to intentionally walk them and take their chances against CMA’s supporting cast. That strategy backfired as the same teammates that McKenzie and Compton helped turn into productive players delivered time and time again in an 18-3 victory.
Both Compton and McKenzie have hopes of making it to the major leagues. With a 3.3 grade point average, Compton has already accepted a full-ride academic and athletic scholarship at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., while McKenzie has also attracted interest from college recruiters.
As they prepare to graduate and pursue their dreams, Compton and McKenzie have left an indelible mark at CMA by putting baseball back on the field.
“When you consider we didn’t have a program last year and then to go undefeated this year, that’s a great accomplishment,” Stephen said. “It wouldn’t have happened without my two seniors. They deserve the credit.”
The Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week Award is representative of the league’s top boys’ and girls’ athletic performers and is sponsored by Detroit area McDonald’s owner-operators.