Janesville Legion team pitching-rich
Janesville's American Legion baseball team will spend the last weekend of the regular season playing in a tournament in Plover.
Manager Bob Schenck would like nothing better than for Post 205 to make a return trip there two weeks later. Plover is the site of the AAA state tournament.
Janesville opens up the season in earnest today when it plays Kenosha at 7:30 p.m. as part of the three-day Five Star Tournament at Riverside Park. Post 205 is 2-1 this season, but played its first three games without eight players from Janesville Parker's state tournament team.
Included in Post 205's 37-game schedule is a 10-day, 12-game trip to Nebraska and Colorado.
“There's no way we'd make this trip if I didn't think I could put a pretty good team on the field,” Schenck said. “And with the mix of kids I have on this team, and a pitching staff that can go six or seven deep, I think we'll do that.
“I've got a great group of kids who had good success this spring. I see no reason why it can't carry over.”
Hunter Van Zandt will lead Janesville's pitching staff. The left-hander and a junior at Parker this fall was the Big Eight Conference's player of the year. Van Zandt went 11-1 during the spring and pitched the Vikings into a state semifinal game.
“Hunter has improved so much from where he was a year ago,” Schenck said. “He's much more confident on the mound. He knows he doesn't have to strike every batter out or throw every pitch by the batter.”
Brandon Hughes, Ryan Cashore, Colin Frey, Darin Brewster, Chase Nyborg and Alex Faust will join Van Zandt in the rotation. Hughes pitched for UW-Oshkosh in the spring and starts tonight against Kenosha.
“I really like having that lefty/righty combo at the top of the rotation,” Schenck said. “But really, we've got four or five guys that right now are what I would consider very capable starters.”
Will Theisen will do most of the catching. The recent Parker graduate was an all-conference first-team selection and batted over .400 for the Vikings.
“Will's a brick wall behind the plate,” Schenck said. “He's as good defensively as any catcher I've had. Plus he can hit and really runs the bases well.”
J.T. Smithback will be Theisen's backup.
Hughes or Faust will play third, with Cashore at shortstop and Justin Graham at second base. Brock Welch is an ideal utility player whose bat Schenck will likely have to find room for in the lineup.
Post 205's outfield should be very productive. Logan Coulter, who will be a senior at Parker, hit over .450 for the Vikings in earning all-Big Eight first-team honors. Cullen Osmond, a two-time all-Big Eight first-team selection, starts in center with his younger brother, Connor, in right. Trayton Christiansen, Richard Burkheimer and Nyborg give Schenck quality depth in the outfield.
“Filling out the lineup card every game is going to be tough,” Schenck said. “But that's a good problem to have.
“I think this team is going to score runs, and when we get guys on base, we're going to run. If our pitching holds up, which I think it will, this could be a very fun summer.”
All home games at Riverside Park
20—Kenosha, 7:30 p.m.; 21—Oconomowoc, 11:15 a.m.; Genoa City, 8:15 p.m.; 22—TBD, final day of Five Star Tournament; 24—At Beloit, 7:30 p.m.; 25—Hononegah (DH), 5 p.m.; 28—At North Platte, Nebraska (DH), noon; 29—At St. Mary's, Colorado (DH), 3 p.m.; 30—At CBA, Colorado (DH), 10 a.m.
1—At Falcon High School, Colorado (DH); 3—At Air Academy High School (DH), 10 a.m.; 5—At Rake Nation (Colorado), noon; 8—At Baraboo (DH), 5 p.m.; 9—Madison Impact, 7:15 p.m.; 11—At Oconomowoc Tournament (Beaver Dam), 2:30 p.m.; 11—At Oconomowoc Tournament (Oconomowoc), 5:15 p.m.; 12—At Oconomowoc Tournament (Wisoonsin Lutheran), 11:45 a.m.; 13—At Oconomowoc Tournament, TBD; 14—Lake Geneva, 6 p.m.; 15—Beloit, 7:30 p.m.; 16—At Genoa City, 7 p.m.; 18—At Plover Tournament (Manitowoc), 3 p.m.; At Plover Tournament (Plover), 8 p.m.; 19—At Plover Tournament (Green Bay Southwest), 12:30 p.m.; At Plover Tournament (Madison), 4 p.m.; 22—At Plover Tournament (TBD); 25-29—Regionals at Beloit.