Batter up: Legion begins season Saturday
Janesville’s American Legion baseball team swings into action Sunday.
The 19-and-under team, made up of current and former Janesville Craig and Janesville Parker players, opens at home with against Union Grove in a Southern Wisconsin Region 7 League doubleheader at Riverside Park, starting at noon.
Janesville, which finished 22-15 a year ago, will rely on a couple of hard-throwing righthanders, while manager Bob Schenck sorts out the rest of his pitching staff. Parker’s Andy Kersten, who was All-Big Eight second team, and former Parker star and current UW-Whitewater player Tyler Teubert should give the team a solid 1-2 punch.
“Those two have experience and have had success at this level,” Schenck said. “But we’ve got four or five other kids that can throw and are going to have to. We’ve got a good schedule, but there are a lot of games in a short period of time.
“We’ve got a couple of tournaments where we could play four or five games in three days, so you better have plenty of arms that can throw. I’m not concerned with strikeouts. I just want our pitchers to throw strikes, and our defense to make the plays behind them.”
Parker graduate Kyle Johnson, an All-Big Eight first-team selection this season as an infielder, is expected to claim a starting pitching spot, along with Janesville Craig’s Brandon Hughes. Parker’s Trent Kobs also is expected to log innings on the mound.
Janesville will be solid behind the plate. Craig’s Charlie Meyer and Parker’s Jake Welch are both capable catchers who probably will be used as the designated hitter when they’re not catching.
Parker graduate Tanner Moe, who led the team in batting last season with a robust .425 average, and Craig’s Riley Quinn are the top infield candidates. Quinn, who was an All-Big Eight first-team infielder this season will start at second. Moe likely will split time at third with Craig’s Nolan Stearns, while Craig’s Dylan Hoskins and Parker’s Hunter Marshall are the shortstop candidates. Parker’s Connor Long will provide valuable versatility both on the infield and on the mound.
“We don’t have any real flashy guys in the infield, but as long as they make the routine plays and play smart baseball, we’ll be fine,” Schenck said. “I can handle the physical errors because they’re going to happen. It’s the mental mistakes we have to eliminate.”
Teubert and Johnson both can both play first, while Johnson also can play in the outfield. Trent Kobs starts in center, while his twin brother, Taran, opens in left. Parker graduate Matt Fiedler will be in right.
Despite nine games in seven days to open the season, Schenck is optimistic about the summer.
“I like the mix of kids we have on the roster,” Schenck said. “All we ask of them is to hustle in and out to their positions, play hard and be accountable.
“We’ve got a tough schedule again, and that’s the way it should be. The state tournament is in Beloit, and we’d like to be a part of that.”
(Home games at Riverside Park)
JUNE: 12—Union Grove (DH), noon; 14—At East Troy, 5:30 p.m.; 15—Hononegah (Ill.), 6 p.m.; 16—At Kenosha, 7:30 p.m.; 17—Father’s Day Tournament (Lodi), 7:15 p.m.; 18—Father’s Day Tournament (Beloit, Milton), 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; 19—Father’s Day Tournament (Oconomowoc), 3:30 p.m.; 21—Genoa City, 6:30 p.m.; 22—Beloit, 7 p.m.; 24—At Spooner Tournament (New Richmond), 6:30 p.m.; 25—At Spooner Tournament (Forest Lake, Mn), 4 p.m.; 26—At Spooner Tournament (TBD); 28—Kenosha; 29—At Hononegah, 6 p.m.; 30—Racine Majors, 7 p.m.
JULY: 2—At Burlington, noon; 6—At Beloit, 7 p.m.; 8—At Oconomowoc Tournament (Oconomowoc, Monona Grove), 9 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.; 9—At Oconomowoc Tournament (Fond du Lac), 11:45 a.m; 11—AT Genoa City, 6:30 p.m.; 12—Burlington, 7 p.m.; 13—East Troy, 7 p.m.; 14—At Plover Tournament (Sun Prairie), 3 p.m.; 15—At Plover Tournament (Caledonia and Manitowoc), 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.; 16—At Plover Tournament (Plover), 8 p.m.