Four Janesville baseball players named to first team
Janesville Craig’s baseball team was expected to finish in the middle of the pack this past season in the rugged Big Eight Conference.
The Cougars had to replace the majority of last season’s pitching staff, along with replacing several key starters.
Craig, however, surprised many by finishing second in the Big Eight. With that success came a number of postseason honors. Head coach Vic Herbst was named Coach of the Year, while Cameron Wright, Brandon Luebke and Brandon Hughes were all-conference first-team selections.
Janesville Parker senior catcher Jake Welch was also named to the first team.
Herbst led the Cougars to a 14-4 record and a berth in the WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal game.
“I’m very humbled by that,” Herbst said of the award. “I was fortunate to work with a great coaching staff, and with players that executed on the field.
“I think more than anything it’s an honor for our program.”
Wright, one of the slickest fielding centerfielders in the state, capped off an incredible senior athletic season by making the first team. He was MVP of the football, basketball and baseball teams at Craig this past calendar year. Wright led the Cougar baseball team with 32 runs scored and 25 stolen bases, along with a .322 average.
“Cam could do it all,” Herbst said. “He was our catalyst at the leadoff spot, and when he got on, good things happened. I don’t ever remember anyone having anywhere close to 25 stolen bases in a season, so that tells you how important it was for us when he got on base.”
Luebke hit .349 as a first baseman/pitcher for the team, with an on-base percentage of .517, which included a team-high 21 walks.
Hughes, despite missing five games with a shoulder injury, hit .352 with five doubles, three triples and a .507 slugging percentage.
“Luebke was probably the surprise of our team this year,” Herbst said. “We put him in the No. 2 spot in the lineup and he really produced.
“Brandon (Hughes) was not only our top pitcher before he got hurt, but he was probably our most consistent hitter. It’s a shame he got hurt because we would’ve been very tough in the tournament with Brandon as our No. 1 pitcher.”
Welch played varsity four years for Parker and capped off a stellar career by hitting .375 with eight doubles, two triples, one home run and 15 RBIs.
“Jake led us in virtually every offensive category,” Parker coach Brian Martin said. “What impressed me the most about Jake was his progression as a catcher. He could always hit, but he turned into a very good defensive catcher. He blocked the plate very well and could throw guys out.”
Sun Prairie’s Nate Hoffmann was the Player of the Year after leading the Cardinals to an unbeaten (18-0) conference season. The Cardinals play in the Division 1 state championship game today.
All-Big Eight baseball
Pitchers: A.J. Verhage, sr., La Follette; Nate Hoffman, sr., Sun Prairie; Ryan Roscoe, sr., Sun Prairie.
Catchers: Jake Welch, sr., Parker; Zach Fairchild, jr., Sun Prairie.
Infielders: Brandon Luebke, sr., Craig; Aaron Schmidt, sr., Sun Prairie; Luke Yapp, sr., Verona; Carter Brekke, jr., Sun Prairie; Tony Butler, jr., Sun Prairie.
Outfielders: Ryen Hinze, jr., East; Jonah Lund, sr., Sun Prairie; Cameron Wright, sr., Craig; Alex Brown, jr., West.
Utility: Drew Haack, jr., Middleton.
DH: Brandon Hughes, jr., Craig.
Pitchers: Paul Burkhardt, sr., Memorial; Colin Frey, jr., Craig.
Catcher: Mike Mack, jr., East.
Infielders: Coyt Mayr, sr., Sun Prairie; Riley Quinn, sr., Craig; Luke Schafer, soph., Middleton; Nick Blomgren, fr., Craig; Brian Lochner, jr., Middleton.
Outfielders: Jordan Miller, sr., Verona; Nate Ricci, sr., La Follette; Drew Meinholz, sr., Middleton.
Utility: Jared Eichorst, jr., Memorial.
DH: Patrick Whalen, soph., Beloit.
Player of the Year—Nate Hoffman, Sun Prairie.
Coach of the Year—Vic Herbst, Janesville Craig.
Beloit—Jayson Pemberton, jr.; Matt Zibert, sr.; Tre Caple, jr.; East—Nick Herbig, sr.; Aidan Baggot, jr.; A.J. Barlow, jr.; Daniel Karlin-Kamin, jr.; La Follette—Casey Seelow, sr.; Fernando Espinoza, jr.; Michael Harington, sr.; Riley Anderson, soph.; Nate Teuscher, jr.; Marty Pollard, sr.; Memorial—Casey Jordan, jr.; Joe Ferguson, jr.; Middleton—Tyler Krause, sr.; Tanner Meinholz, jr.; Parker—Aric Bobzien, sr.; Tyler Brooks, jr.; Verona—Trevor Kernicle, jr.; Louie Ellis, sr.; West—Joe Trier, soph.; John James, jr.; Kai Westring, jr.; Jake Fleischman, sr.
Sun Prairie, 18-0; Janesville Craig, 14-4; Middleton, 12-6; Madison La Follette, 11-7; Madison Memorial, 10-8; Madison East, 7-11; Madison West, 7-11; Verona, 5-13; Janesville Parker, 4-14; Beloit Memorial, 2-16.