With this season already chalked up as a relative failure — already statistically out of the conference tournament race — Michigan coach Rich Maloney has started looking toward the future of his program.

As the Michigan baseball team plays out the rest of its schedule, it will have an eye toward developing young talent and getting some game experience for as many players as possible.

The Wolverines next chance to do so will be Tuesday when Western Michigan comes to Ray Fisher Stadium in Michigan’s final non-conference game of the season.

“Obviously, when you’re not still in it and you still have games to play, it’s unfamiliar territory for us,” Maloney said. “We are definitely getting guys experience. A lot of guys got their feet wet, we’ve got some excellent guys coming in, we’ll get some of the injured guys back, and when we mesh it all together, I think it’ll be really good.”

Maloney’s battery for the game against the Broncos will comprise of freshmen — catcher Cole Martin and pitcher Alex Lakatos.

Martin became a fixture in the lineup midway through the season and has shared duties behind the plate with junior catcher Coley Crank since then. And though Martin is hitting just .217, he has become much more consistent after a rough first few weeks.

“We think he’s going to be a big part of our future, so we’re giving him a lot of experience at this point,” Maloney said. “So over these next four games, he’ll definitely catch some of those games.”

Lakatos has also seen quite a few innings — both at the plate and on the mound. The dual-threat pitcher and outfielder is hitting .270 and has shown flashes of promise on the mound as the team’s closer for much of the season.

“He’s a guy that we really think, in the future, is going to be a really great player for us,” Maloney said. “He’s gotten his feet wet a little bit and we want to get them wet a little bit more tomorrow and probably some more on Saturday. Hopefully he’ll get better this summer and become even a better pitcher than he already was as a freshman.”

While Maloney has usually thrown three or four pitchers for the midweek non-conference games, he said that Lakatos might go longer than the usual three-to-four innings, if he’s pitching well.

The Broncos will look to put the finishing touches on Michigan’s dismal 2-4 season against the MAC. Maloney’s alma mater has dealt with similar problems at the plate as Michigan. The Broncos hit .253 with just 10 home runs this season.

But despite the light-hitting attack, Western Michigan is 2-0 against Big Ten leader, Michigan State. Third baseman Ryan McMillin leads the team with a .284 average and four home runs.

As the final games tick off of the schedule, Maloney laments the worst season of his career, but considers the year an aberration.

“Nobody likes going through what we’ve experienced this season, from any of the players to the coaches to administration,” Maloney said. “Nobody that’s a Michigan Man feels good about this. With that being said, you want to finish strong and there’s better days ahead. I think the future’s really bright.

“I wish we could start at 0-0 again and get some of the key (injured guys) back with us and start all over again and see what we can do. We tried pretty much everything we knew, and the kids have given a great continued effort, they certainly haven’t given up at all. And for that, I’m proud of them, because it’s tough when you go through something like we’ve experienced.”

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