Pitching Janesville's biggest question mark
With several players returning from that team, coach Bob Schenck hopes the success carries over into this season.
Janesville opens its 38-game schedule at home Friday night against East Troy.
“I think our everyday lineup is going to be productive,” Schenck said. “We’ve got good speed, some pop in our bats and kids that understand how the game is supposed to be played.
“But our pitching is a big question mark right now. We lost one of our top two starters to injury (Brandon Hughes), so some different kids that haven’t had a lot of experience pitching are going to get a look.”
Heading the list of returnees is pitcher Andy Kersten and catcher Charlie Meyer, who are both coming off solid freshman collegiate seasons. Kersten, a righthanded pitcher, is coming off a 3-3 season at Carroll University. He held opponents to a .225 batting average and struck out 36 in 40 innings.
Meyer, a catcher, batted .333 at UW-Stout and hit five home runs.
“That’s as good of a battery as you will find in the state,” Schenck said. “Andy has added three or four miles per hour to his fastball and looks good. Charlie’s a strong kid who could always hit, and now he’s very solid defensively, as well.”
Janesville Parker’s Jake Welch and Brady Brandt return, along with Janesville Craig’s Dylan Hoskins and Riley Quinn. Welch, a catcher, was a first-team All-Big Eight Conference selection this past season, while Quinn was an All-Big Eight second-team pick at second base after earning first-team honors in 2011. Hoskins is a valuable asset on the infield, while Brandt can play shortstop and pitch.
“Those four know what I expect and will have to provide leadership to the new guys,” Schenck said. “All four are able to play almost any position on the field, so that gives us good flexibility.”
Craig’s Brandon Luebke, an All-Big Eight first-team selection at first base, will likely start in the opener and can also pitch.
Other infield candidates are Parker’s Aric Bobzien, Will Theisen and Tyler Brooks. Theisen and Brooks can also play outfield, where Schenck doesn’t have the depth like he does in the infield.
Craig’s Colin Frey, along with Parker’s Adam Greene and Mike Heyerdahl, are expected to round out the starting pitching staff. All three shined at times during the high school season. Andrew Iverson will also be in the pitching rotation.
“It comes down to throwing strikes and letting the defense make plays behind you,” Schenck said. “If our staff can do that, we can play with anybody on our schedule.”
Craig’s Nate Hoag and Tyler Campbell add outfield depth and give Schenck two lefthanded bats in the lineup.
“I’m excited because we’ve got a good mix of kids,” Schenck said. “It’s a tough schedule, as always, with a lot of games in a short amount of time.
“If our pitching comes around and some kids step up, we’ll be a pretty good team.”
American Legion schedule
(All home games at Riverside Park)
JUNE: 8—East Troy, 7 p.m.; 10—At Union Grove (DH), noon; 11—Burlington, 7 p.m.; 12—At Genoa City, 7 p.m.; 13—At Kenosha, 7:30 p.m.; 15—Father’s Day Tournament (Hartford), 7 p.m; 16—Father’s Day Tournament (Beloit and Sun Prairie), 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.;; 17—Father’s Day Tournament (Oconomowoc), 3:30 p.m.; 19—Hononegah and Madison Impact, 5 and 7:15 p.m.; 20—Beloit, 7:30 p.m.; 22—At Andy Smith Memorial Tournament (Grays Lake and Wausau), 2 and 7 p.m.; 23—At Andy Smith Memorial Tournament (Illionis Bobcats and Lafayette (Ind.), 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. 24—At Andy Smith Memorial Tournament (Mundelein), 11:30 a.m.; 26—At Burlington, 7 p.m.; 27—Westosha, 7:15 p.m.; 28—At Richmond (Ill.), 6 p.m.
JULY: 5—At Beloit; 6—At Mundelein Tournament (Barrington and Chicago), 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; 7—At Mundelein Tournament (Lake Forest), 12:30 p.m.; 8—At Mundelein Tournament, TBD; 10—Richmond, 6 p.m.; 11—Kenosha, 7:30 p.m.; 13—At Oconomowoc Tournament (Beaver Dam and Fond du Lac), 11:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; 14—At Oconomowoc Tournament, TBD; 18—Genoa City, 7 p.m.; 20—At Plover Tournament (Marquette and Plover), 3 and 8 p.m.; 21—At Plover Tournament (Madison and Manitowoc), 12:30 and 4 p.m.; 22—At Plover Tournament, TBD.