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By Dan Truttschel

Lake Geneva Regional News

First-year Williams Bay baseball coach Mike Johnson has one goal in mind for the upcoming 2003 campaign.

He wants to begin the process of building a successful program — it won't be easy, but he's confident with a little time and patience, the job will get done.

Johnson takes over the program from former coach Jeff Smith, who resigned after the 2002 season. Johnson was an assistant coach each of the past two years.

"I have to try and build something," Johnson said. "I want to put baseball back on the map in Williams Bay.

"The light has fizzled out. I hope to slowly build up the confidence in the kids to where they want to play baseball."

Williams Bay, which posted a 1-10 overall record last year, has 15 players on its roster, including just seven with previous high school experience.

That makes it difficult to compete, Johnson said, but he's ready to work with the athletes who have made the commitment to play.

"I'll make the best of it with the kids I have," he said. "All the kids here have great attitudes and want to play the game.

"I realize that baseball isn't the gung-ho thing. Football and basketball are strong here. They get to this and it's kind of winding down the school year. I hope to build the desire to want to play."

Leading the Bulldogs this senior are senior three-year letterwinners Brandon Borgen (pitcher) and Mike Sandberg (third base). Both will serve as team captains.

Others who return with varsity experience are senior Sean Powell (first base); juniors Eric Johnson (catcher), Scott Dreger (second base) and Matt Moore (outfield); and sophomore Jeremy Valadez (first base).

"(The letterwinners) have to help me out," Johnson said. "Practices are mundane, but I've tried to instill in them why they're doing (the various drills).

"At this point, I feel very good about the seven letterwinners. That's a good core to build off of."

Newcomers to the Williams Bay program are seniors Jason Clark (outfield) and Antonio Carbajal (outfield); junior Chris Kochamba (pitcher); sophomores Arturo Lopez (outfield) and Brody Lancour (outfield-catcher); and freshmen Patrick Smith (outfield), Barrett Danz (shortstop) and David Johnson (pitcher).

Teams to watch in the Trailways Conference this season, Johnson said, include Deerfield, Johnson Creek and Rio.

As far as the Bulldogs, Johnson said a realistic goal is to creep toward the .500 mark in 2003, which would provide a solid building block for the future.

"I would like to see us win a half a dozen games out of the 18," Johnson said. "I know last year a couple games got away from us, and hopefully, we can pull those out."

Williams Bay opened its 2003 season at Pardeeville Monday, April 14. The Bulldogs host Hustisford-Dodgeland Thursday, April 17 and Valley Christian Monday, April 21. Both games begin at 5 p.m.

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