Starting Pitching Gives Coleman Huge Advantage In M-O Baseball
With the start of the spring baseball season delayed at least a week, the Coleman Cougars will enter the 2013 campaign as the favorite again.
And why not!
After winning 4 of the last 5 conference championships, the Cougars will be in a rebuilding mode, but still have two top flight starting pitchers back.
Returning for their senior seasons are hard throwing righthanders Mason Mergener and Derek Marquardt, who helped lead the Cougars to a 10-0 league mark along with the Division 4 state title.
This year things wont be as easy.
Despite the pitching edge, Coleman is expected to get a challenge from three other teams in Peshtigo, Wausaukee and Crivitz.
Coach Pat Robbins, who is entering his 20th year as the Bulldog boss, has some solid starting pitching but needs to jump-start an offense that provided little punch and few runs last year.
The conference is going to be more balanced then it has been for a long time. Coleman, because of their pitching, and a dog fight with everyone else, Robbins said.
Another challenger to the Cougars will be Wausaukee, which finished as the number two team a year ago in the conference standings at 8-2.
But the Rangers have to replace some key cogs, on and off the field. Gone is head coach Bill Wickman, who guided the Ranger diamond fortunes for 13 years and is now at Peshtigo. Three seniors also departed, but first year coach Paul Moser, who was the first base coach last year, will look to Beau DeLaet and Cole Lewandowski to provide leadership on the mound and at the plate.
A dark horse in this years baseball battle could be Crivitz which made its way to the D-3 sectional semifinals before being eliminated. Coach Jeff Dorschner has 10 letterwinners back, which could lead to a successful season.
M-O Conference play is scheduled to begin on Thursday, April 11 with Gillett visiting Coleman, Crivitz at Peshtigo and Wausaukee traveling to Marinette to face Lena-STAA.
Defending State Champs
Return Three Starters
From Superb 28-1 Team
Things will certainly look different in 2013 for Coleman.
Coming off the schools first state baseball championship, the Cougars return a trio of starters from a squad that finished 28-1 overall and 10-0 in the M-O Conference.
The Cougars lone setback came in the season opener to Division 2 Freedom and after that it was 28 straight wins, regional and sectional titles along with that WIAA Division 4 state championship following a wild 20-11 title victory over Johnson Creek.
In order to continue that kind of diamond success, coach Kent Casper will have to put in overtime to replace six standout seniors...Mitch Champagne, Mike and Mitch Mergener, Jake Engels, Trevor Bushmaker and Lucas Markiewicz.
Dont feel bad for the Cougars as they will have their top two pitchers back on the hill in Mason Mergener and Derek Marquardt, both first team selections.
Mergener shared league MVP honors with brother Mike and compiled a 4-0 mark in the M-O with 24 strikeouts, 3 runs (one earned), 11 hits allowed and 13 walks in 22 innings of work. Marquardt was equally as impressive with a 5-0 record, no earned runs, 8 hits, 17 walks and 33 strikeouts over 23 innings.
Also returning is starting third baseman Trevor Seewald along with letterwinners Mitch Woulf, juniors Jackson Margis and Dexter Karban and sophomore Alex Stodola.
A total of 16 players will make up the Coleman squad, six of those being freshman.
Heading into his 19th year at the helm, Casper doesnt see his team among the top three teams in the M-O with Peshtigo first followed by Wausaukee and Crivitz.
After postponing their season opener Thursday against Freedom, Coleman will likely see a number of other non-league outings get cancelled. Following the Freedom affair, Coleman was to host Goodman-Pembine April 2, Crandon April 4 and Kewaunee April 6 before entertaining Gillett in the M-O opener on April 11.
Bulldogs Look To Bounce
Back From 8-15 Year
Despite a winning 6-4 record in conference play last year, the Bulldogs will be looking to bounce back from a subpar 8-15 overall finish. Coach Robbins welcomed 7 letterwinners back, including 4 pitchers who could find success on the mound.
Heading the list of returners are seniors Trevor Bero (ss/p), Matt Borkovec (3b/p), Derek Koronkiewicz (1b) and Tom Quigley (of). Joining them are a trio of juniors in Jordan Berth (p/inf), Gunner Kinney (of) and Zach Neumann (p/inf).
With the way the weather has been, it is hard to evaluate some players..tried to give everyone a chance, Robbins said. All the players have done a great job during the practices so far. It is easy to get bored and not accomplish things but they have done real well.
Other potential varsity prospects are senior Derrick Maye (of), juniors Jake Veness (of), Andrew Majewski (inf), Darius Dohl (1b), DJ Messenger (of) along with sophomores Brendon Thomas (2b/p) and Marcus Sharkey (c).
Our pitching should be solid and we have some depth, plus our defense will be better. Offensively is where we need to be better and we lack speed, Robbins explained.
Robbins will be assisted by volunteer coaches Bill Wickman, Kyle Fischer and Troy Jones.
Gone from last years squad are outfielders Joey and Nick Sparks along with catcher Cody Nielson.
The Bulldogs saw a trio of non-conference games get cancelled already...Thursday, March 28 at Marinette, April 2 home against Niagara and a doubleheader at Southern Door on Saturday, April 6.
New Coach, 8 Vets
Keys For Wausaukee
A rookie coach and 8 veterans will combine their talents as Wausaukee looks to better its 22-4 record from last year and an 8-2 finish in the M-O.
Joining first year coach Paul Moser in the dugout will be assistants Dave Messar, Brian DeLaet, Jesse Delfosse and Scott McCleland.
Heading the list of returning players are seniors Cole Lewandowski (of/p), catcher Dillon Meyers and Zach Struve. Add in talented juniors Beau DeLaet (p/ss/c) and outfielders Eddy Self and Brennen Gabriel along with sophomores Aaron Schlies and Zach Orlando.
Lewandowski was a first team outfield selection last year, DeLaet first team infielder and second team pitcher while Meyers received honorable mention votes for his work behind the plate.
According to Moser, the Rangers will have plenty of team speed and versatility but lack depth at certain positions.
Three seniors departed the Wausaukee baseball program via the gap and gown route in Brett Edlbeck and Austin Carter, both first team infielders along with Joe Jaworski, a second team second baseman.
Moser thinks Coleman will continue to rule the M-O followed by Peshtigo, Wausaukee and Crivitz.
The Rangers had early season games scheduled with Goodman-Pembine (March 28) and Elcho (April 2), which certainly will go by the wayside. Wausaukee will travel to Lena-STAA in Marinette on April 11 for the M-O opener.
10 Letterwinners Back
For Wolverine Squad
With 10 letterwinners back in the fold, Crivitz could take a big step in the M-O Conference chase. Entering his fourth year as the baseball boss, Jeff Dorschner has watched his teams compile a 28-38 overall readout during that time, including 12-18 in league play.
Experience and pitching will be two keys for Crivitz as seniors Cody Wolf, Parker DeLosSantos, AJ Garcia, Brian Shearer and Jed Nelson return.
A trio of juniors will lend support in Spencer Schwartz, Dan Tomaszewski and Tim Sotka along with sophomores Jake Sawinski and Colton Lange.
Wolf, Garcia, Sawinski and Lange will handle the mound chores while DeLosSantos and Tomaszewski will share catching duties.
Defense and hitting will be two obstacles Dorschner and company will try to overcome with a opening day line-up of Wolf 2b, DeLosSantos ss, Garcia p, Sawinski 3b, Schwartz dh, Lange 1b, Nelson cf, Shearer rf and Tomaszewski c.
Predicting a third place finish for his squad, Dorschners team was scheduled to open the season with six straight home games beginning March 28 against Gibraltar. Mother Nature is expected to curtail play until at lease the second week in April with Crivitz opening M-O play April 11 at Peshtigo.
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