April 08, 2014 | 02:18 PMWALWORTH — The Badger baseball team, above all, was relieved to be playing outside this weekend, head coach Aaron Zweifel said.
Prior to Saturday's double-header at the Big Foot Triangular in Walworth, during which Badger played Big Foot and Fort Atkinson, Zweifel estimated that his team had only been able to practice outside for about 20 minutes in the past two weeks.
Badger christened its season with a 10-2 victory over Big Foot on Saturday morning, then lost 6-2 against Fort Atkinson that afternoon.
"I told the guys up front, everybody's in the same boat," Zweifel said. "People haven't been outside. Big Foot has been lucky, (the Chiefs) got a couple games in just by luck of scheduling."
Prior to Saturday, Big Foot defeated Burlington Catholic Central 10-3 on April 1 and Delavan-Darien 16-5 on April 2.
"I know they're one of the favorites in their side of the (Rock Valley) conference," Zweifel said of Big Foot. "We were very glad to see (Austin) Hoey pitching for them. He's one of the best pitchers in the conference and we want to see those type of guys right away."
Zweifel said that playing against some of the area's premiere pitchers early in the season is a good way to break in the bats.
Attempts to reach Big Foot head coach Steve Bochat for comment before Regional News deadline were unsuccessful.
On Saturday morning, Badger went up 1-0 in the top of the first inning against Big Foot, but the Chiefs tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the third. Badger notched another run in the fifth and three more in the sixth to go up 5-1. The Chiefs knocked one in at the bottom of the sixth, bringing the score to 5-2. The Badgers padded their lead with a five-run seventh inning, to which Big Foot mustered no response.
Badger's Derek Denecke was 4-for-4 from the plate and scored 2 runs.
"Derek was awesome," Zweifel said. "Vintage Derrick. He does not get rattled. I think three out of four of those hits were with two strikes on. He just doesn't get rattled and he never changes his approach at the plate, he always has a plan up there."
Zweifel said he was also impressed with the performances of catcher Clint Ugolini, leadoff hitter Levi Burnette and pitcher Alex Johnson.
"Clint Ugolini had a great day at the plate," Zweifel said. "He was hitting the ball hard all day."
Zweifel said that he wasn't surprised by the performance of his junior and sophomore players, but he was impressed with how quickly they were able to adjust to varsity baseball.
"The first couple varsity games, there's going to be some big eyes and some butterflies and I was impressed with how early these guys were able to step up the way they did," Zweifel said.
Before the game, Zweifel said he talked to his team about "controlling the controllables," or focusing on the aspects of the game that aren't up to chance.
"The only thing we can control is our effort and our attitude," Zweifel said. "Our guys came out and they played hard. Great team win."
Badger used four pitchers against Big Foot on Saturday. Donald Schnurer started and pitched two innings with no hits, two strikeouts, two walks and no runs scored.
"We have 17 guys on the team," Zweifel said. "Every single guy got in the game and either pitched and got plate appearances or were on the field. Everybody contributed and played pretty solid defense for the first game out."
Both Big Foot and Badger lost to Fort Atkinson on Saturday. Big Foot lost 16-3.
Badger will play Wilmot High School on April 10 at 4:30 p.m. in Wilmot. Big Foot will face off against McFarland High School on April 10 at 4:45 p.m. in McFarland.