Parker baseball faces challenging schedule
The Vikings have seven teams on their schedule ranked in the top 20 in the state in
Division 1 or 2, and three of those teams—second-ranked Sun Prairie, 14th-ranked Middleton and 17th-ranked Madison La Follette—are on the schedule twice.
Parker coach Brian Martin knows his young team faces a tall task.
"I just kind of shook my head after I looked at our schedule and the preseason rankings," Martin said. "I think we've got some guys that can really play, but we're still going to be awfully young, especially on the mound.
"We're light years ahead of where we normally are at this time of the year because the weather has been great, but I hope we're not doing things too fast where we skip getting down the fundamentals of the game."
Parker, which finished 13-14 last season, plays its Big Eight Conference and season-opener Tuesday at Madison Memorial.
The strength of the Vikings will be an athletic and talented outfield. Senior Vernon Franklin will be in centerfield, junior Tyler Brooks in left and sophomore Will Theisen in right. Seniors Justin Devoe and Matt Traynor are also in the mix in the outfield, along with sophomore Cullen Osmond.
"I think we're going to be solid defensively, especially in the outfield," Martin said. "Those guys can cover some ground."
Theisen will likely open the season at shortstop as senior Brady Brandt recovers from an ankle injury. Brandt, a righthander who had a successful American Legion season last summer, is expected to be the team's No. 1 pitcher.
Senior Aric Bobzien starts at third base, with senior Hunter Marshall at second. First base is a three-man race between seniors Clayton Coleman and Cody Fosmoen, along with sophomore Collin Powers.
The Vikings are in good hands behind the plate with senior Jake Welch.
"Jake's our go-to guy," Martin said. "He's a 3 1/2-year varsity player and probably our best hitter.
"Plus, he has made huge improvements defensively as a catcher."
Junior Adam Greene is also expected to fill a role as a utility player and could serve as the team's DH, depending on Parker's starting pitcher.
"Other than Jake, we don't have a real power hitter," Martin said. "We'll do a lot of bunting and moving runners over to take advantage of what I really think is probably the quickest team I've ever had."
Pitching remains Martin's biggest concern heading into the season. Due to injuries and athletic code suspensions, Parker's top two pitchers to start the season may be sophomores Powers and Osmond, along with Greene.
"We're kind of in the same situation we were three years ago when (Andy) Kersten, (Kyle) Johnson and (Trent) Kobs were sophomores," Martin said of his pitching staff. "Our young guys are going to get thrown into the fire right away, and we'll see what happens.
"It's not good in our conference to be as inexperienced pitching-wise as we are, but as long as they can throw strikes, I think our defense can make the plays behind them."
All home games at Riverside Park
(5 p.m. start unless indicated)
APRIL: 3—At Madison Memorial; 5—Middleton; 10—At Beloit Memorial; 12—At Madison East; 14—Madison West; 17—At Verona; 19—Sun Prairie; 21—Racine Park, DH, 11 a.m.; 24—At Janesville Craig; 26—Madison La Follette.
MAY: 1—Madison Memorial; 3—At Middleton; 5—Beloit Memorial, 11 a.m.; 5—Kenosha Bradford, 2 p.m.; 8—Madison East; 12—At Edgerton Tournament (w/ Edgerton, Lake Mills, Watertown), DH, 10 a.m.; 15—Verona; 17—At Sun Prairie; 18—At Marshfield Tournament, DH, TBD; 22—Janesville Craig; 24—At Madison La Follette.