By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — For the second season in a row, the Marshfield High School baseball team will have a first-time head coach.
Jon Bauer replaces Shane Freitag as the Tigers’ manager and inherits a team that finished 13-13 overall and 6-6 in the Wisconsin Valley Conference a year ago. Marshfield won its playoff opener before losing in a WIAA Division 1 regional final to Eau Claire North.
After a few weeks of practice, Marshfield begins its home schedule with a doubleheader Thursday against Eau Claire North at Jack Hackman Field.
Bauer said he has been impressed with what he has seen so far this spring.
“I really like our work ethic,” Bauer said. “I think we’ll have enough good pitching necessary to compete with the new pitch count limits. Our hitting and fielding, hopefully, will be strengths as well.”
The WIAA passed a rule last summer that states a pitcher can throw up to 100 pitches in a day. Three days rest are then required before the player may pitch again. Pitchers who throw 1-30 pitches in a day will not require any rest, 31-49 pitches thrown requires one day of rest, 50-75 mandates two days rest, and 76-100 pitches requires three days off before returning to the mound.
Seniors Connor Jasurda, Jake Brueggen, and Hunter Korger are expected to make up the starting pitching rotation, and Bauer said he will determine the rest as the season moves forward.
Seniors Aaron Braun and Logan Jakobi; juniors Branden Montalvo, Connor Berry, Austin Palacek, Tyler Spaeth, Mitch Wilhelm, and Jared Johnsrud; and sophomore Ryan Krueger will also compete for mound time for the Tigers.
Senior Paul Maguire will see time at catcher and in the outfield for the Tigers after earning first-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference honors as a utility player in 2016, when he hit .395 with 11 RBIs in conference play.
Senior outfielder Braden Bohman is also back for his third year on varsity. He and Brueggen were honorable mention all-conference selections. Bohman hit .326 with 12 runs scored and five stolen bases, and Brueggen was 2-2 with a 4.03 ERA in Valley action.
Senior Jared Klein is also back for his third year on the varsity team and will catch and play first base.
“Our expectations are to show up, show that we can play, show that we can improve as the season progresses, and show that we can be good teammates,” Bauer said. “I really like the effort this group demonstrates in practice every day.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coach: Jon Bauer, first year.
Last year’s record: 13-13, 6-6 Wisconsin Valley Conference.
2016 WIAA playoffs: Def. Merrill 10-2 in WIAA Div. 1 regional semifinal; Lost to Eau Claire North 7-0 in regional final.
Returning players: Braden Bohman, sr., OF; Jake Brueggen, sr., P/OF; Logan Jakobi, sr., IF; Connor Jasurda, sr., IF/P; Jared Klein, sr., C/1B; Hunter Korger, sr., IF/P; Paul Maguire, jr., C/OF; Austin Palacek, jr., P/IF.
Top newcomers: Aaron Braun, sr., P/OF; Austin Goode, sr., OF; Branden Montalvo, jr., C/P/IF; Connor Berry, jr., P/IF; Andy Goettl, jr., OF; Tyler Spaeth, jr., IF/P; Ryan Krueger, so., P/IF; Mitch Wilhelm, jr., P/IF; Jared Johnsrud, jr., P/IF.
Coach: Mark Brost, 13th season (124-86).
Last year’s record: 7-9, 6-6 Marawood Conference South Division.
2016 WIAA playoffs: Lost to Weyauwega-Fremont 3-1 in WIAA Div. 3 regional quarterfinals.
Returning players: Logan Willfahrt, sr., C; Cason Schmutzer, jr., LF; Ryan Isaacson, jr., 1B; Aaron Willfahrt, sr., CF/P; Caleb Weinfurter, sr., 2B/P; Cam Ertl, jr., RF/P; Colton Wright, so., SS/P; Dylan Altmann, 3B.
Top newcomers: Dalten Hoffman, jr., 2B/3B; Trayton Weister, so., 2B/3B; Cooper Weinfurter, fr., OF/2B; Steve Hartman 1B.
What the coach said: “Auburndale should be solid defensively and offensively,” Brost said. “Our pitching should be a strength as the season progresses. We hope to be one of the better teams in the Marawood South and compete for a conference championship.”
Columbus Catholic Dons
Coach: Joe Seitz, 12th season (64-118).
Last year’s record: 7-12, 7-9 Cloverbelt Conference East Division.
2016 WIAA playoffs: Lost to Prentice 5-0 in WIAA Div. 4 regional quarterfinals.
Returning players: Tyler Fuerlinger, sr., SS/P; Charles Payant, sr., P/C/3B; Ryan Dieringer, sr., 2B; Bailey Keffer, sr., P/OF; Noah Taylor, so., OF/3B/P; Bryce Fuerlinger, so., OF/P.
Top newcomers: Ethan Meece, so., OF/P; Will Boyer, OF; Jarred Mandel, so., C/3B/P; Evan Dieringer, so., 1B; Calvin Brown, so., utility.
What the coach said: “We have some younger kids who saw a lot of playing time last year, so they have some varsity experience, and we have good upper class leadership,” Seitz said. “If we can develop more pitching this year — with the new pitch count rules — and play solid defense, we can be competitive in our conference.”
Coach: Tim Buttke, first year.
Last year’s record: 13-6, 12-4 Cloverbelt Conference East Division.
2016 WIAA playoffs: Lost to Stratford 4-3 in WIAA Div. 3 regional semifinal.
Returning players: Hunter Luepke, jr., OF/P; Carson Hildebrandt, so., IF/C; Dom Wichlacz, IF/P; Caden Schillinger, jr., C/P; Tanner Kleinschmidt, so., IF/P; Lukas Ellefson, jr., OF.
Top newcomers: Brett Kasch, fr., IF/P; Darren Wilconne, IF/OF; Tyler Brandt, OF/IF.
What the coach said: “Since we will be very young, we are just focused on getting better each day,” Buttke said. “Fortunately, we are talented. To be successful we need to consistently play up to our capabilities. I think our strength will be our 1-5 batters. Carson Hildebrandt has really impressed so far this spring. Dom Wichlacz and Caden Schillinger bring back some experience, and they both have made great jumps from last year to this spring. Hunter Luepke is a fantastic athlete. The sky is the limit for him, and he’s also an exceptionally high-quality young man.”
Coach: Brad Grube, fourth year (34-28).
Last year’s record: 11-7, 8-4 Marawood Conference South Division.
2016 WIAA playoffs: Def. Colby 5-4 in WIAA Div. 3 regional quarterfinals; Def. Spencer 4-3 in regional semifinals; lost to Marathon 6-0 in regional final.
Returning players: Cole Hoffman, sr., P/IF; Lucas Heidmann, sr., P/IF; Dakota Singer, sr., OF; Mark Handrick, jr., C; Andrew Bargender, jr., C; Eli Drexler, so., OF; Kade Ehrike, so., IF/P.
Top newcomers: Lance Heidmann, so., IF/P; Ty Pankratz, so., IF/P; Maverick Licciardi, so., IF/P; Dylan Schoenherr, so., IF/C; Connor Multerer, jr., IF; Tim Wenzel, jr., OF; Hunter Austin, jr., OF; Ryan Foley, so., IF.
What the coach said: “Our strengths will be our work ethic, defense, and baseball understanding,” Grube said. “We need to work on moving runners when they are in scoring position. We want to be competitive in all areas of baseball to give us the best chance to win.”