By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield Clinic Post 54 Senior American Legion baseball team already knows it will be playing in this year’s Class AAA State Tournament as the host team.
The way this season has gone, especially the past few weeks, the Blue Devils have shown that they will not just be filling out the eight-team bracket at state but will be a serious threat to win it.
Marshfield won 13 of its last 15 games of the season, getting its sixth win in a row with a 20-7 rout of Plover on Tuesday, splitting a doubleheader against second-ranked Eau Claire on Wednesday, and wrapping up its regular season with an 11-7 victory over Wausau Thursday to clinch the Wisconsin Valley Legion League title.
The Blue Devils (21-5, 8-2 WVLL) will now turn their attention to the postseason. Marshfield hosts a five-team regional starting July 19. Stevens Point, Wausau, D.C. Everest, and Plover will be part of the double-elimination tournament that will run through July 22 at Jack Hackman Field. If Marshfield should win it, the second-place finisher would fill in the Marshfield regional spot at the state tournament, which will be in Marshfield from July 26-30.
“Our biggest goal — we aren’t even focusing on state yet — is to win regionals regardless, whether we have a spot in the state tournament or not,” third-year starting shortstop Trevor Schwecke said. “After that, we’re going to compete for a spot to go national regionals again.”
Marshfield finished second at the state tournament in 2014 and earned a spot in the Great Lakes Regional that season. The Blue Devils have had to retool the past two years, reaching the state regional finals before losing to Plover last year, and have filled out a roster that provides massive depth on the pitching mound and a lineup that 1-through-9 will be among the best at the state tournament.
“We lost a lot of talent and brought in some new guys from around the area and really put a showcase out there from the Marshfield area,” Schwecke said. “This year we had a lot of new players from Stratford, Greenwood, a lot of new players. It’s always awkward at first because you don’t know everybody, but once we got it together, we found it the last 10 or 12 games. With the run we’ve made it.”
The Blue Devils have three players — pitcher/designated hitter Jack Donahue, center fielder Nate McDonald, and third baseman Mitch Susa — who graduated from high school in 2015 but are still eligible to play Legion ball. That experience, along with Schwecke and Bobby Pilz, both three-year Senior Legion players, and a number of other area standouts, have given Marshfield a lineup that has put up nearly 8½ runs a game while pitchers have allowed just over 3 runs per contest.
Donahue (4-1, 2 saves), Pilz (3-1), and Jake Brueggen (2-1) have logged the majority of the innings for Marshfield, which has a team ERA of just over 2.60. Cole Hoffmann, Jason Kurth, Schwecke, and Jacob Neve also have two wins apiece on the mound.
“You pretty much just have to stay out of their way,” first-year manager Tom Sorenson said. “They know what to do. It’s fun being around them. They know the game. It’s almost like coaching college kids, which a couple of them are. They all have such a great knowledge of the game.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at email@example.com.
(Editor’s note: Statistics in this article are from games prior to Wednesday’s doubleheader.)