Arms race favors Janesville Parker
Pitching is at a premium this season for Janesville Parker’s baseball team.
The Vikings welcome back three quality starters, led by senior Andy Kersten.
Unfortunately for Parker, there are numerous holes to fill.
Parker, which finished 6-12 in the Big Eight last season, opens the season against state-ranked and defending conference champion Middleton on Tuesday at Riverside Park.
“Our experience on the mound will have to carry us early as we could potentially have trouble scoring runs,” Parker coach Brian Martin said. “We will have to manufacture runs more so than we have done in the past.
“We will, like everybody else, need to take advantage of scoring opportunities.”
Kersten, a senior righthander, has been on the varsity staff for two seasons and will be the opening-day starter. Senior lefthander Kyle Johnson is slated to be the No. 2 pitcher, followed by senior righthander Trent Kobs.
“All three of those guys had some success as underclassmen,” Martin said. “They will have to become more consistent and lead us this season.”
Johnson, when he is not pitching, will play first base. Senior Jeff Henke will play first when Johnson is pitching, with senior Conner Long the likely starter at second. Senior Hunter Marshall takes over at short, with juniors Aric Bobzien and Brandy Brandt battling for the starting spot at third.
Martin is high on Tyler Brooks and expects the sophomore to see action.
The outfield has experience with Trent Kobs in center and his brother, Taran, in left. Junior Decker Thompson is likely to start in right.
“We have enough depth in the outfield that whoever is playing is going to have to produce to remain in the lineup,” Martin said. “A lot will depend on who is pitching at the time.”
Other outfield candidates are seniors Zach Harmel and Chase Lee, along with juniors Vernon Franklin and Mike Heyerdahl.
Jake Welch made the switch from third base to catcher, and Martin has been impressed by how quickly the junior has adapted.
“As Jake gets more comfortable behind the plate, he will get better and better,” Martin said. “He has a shot to be a great catcher.”
Whether the Vikings can crack the .500 mark and make a move toward the upper half of the Big Eight will depend on the offense. Pitching and defense should be strengths.
“We have a good mix of returning players, and some new players that may be upgrades at certain positions,” Martin said. “Defensively, we have the potential to be solid.”
(All home games at Riverside Park)
April: 5—Middleton, 5 p.m.; 7—At Beloit Memorial, 5 p.m.; 12—At Verona, 5 p.m.; 16—Madison West (DH), 11 a.m.; 19—Sun Prairie, 5 p.m.; 21—At Janesville Craig (Riverside), 5 p.m.; 23—Oconomowoc (DH), 11 a.m.; 26—Madison La Follette, 5 p.m.; 28—At Madison Memorial, 5 p.m.
May: 3—At Middleton, 5 p.m.; 5—Libertyville (Miller Park), TBD; 7—At Madison East (DH), 11 a.m.; 10—Beloit Memorial, 5 p.m.; 12—Verona, 5 p.m.; 14—At Holmen (Marshfield Tournament), 1 p.m.; at Marshfield (Marshfield Tournament), 4 p.m.; 17—At Sun Prairie, 5 p.m.; 19—Janesville Craig, 5 p.m.; 24—At Madison La Follette, 5 p.m.; 26—Madison Memorial, 5 p.m.