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Badger boys must replace big names



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2011 Badger baseball schedule - (HOME GAMES IN CAPS) April — 7: at Westosha Central. 8: RACINE CASE. 11: at Racine Horlick. 12: ELKHORN. 14: at Delavan-Darien. 15: at Whitewater. 19: BURLINGTON. 21: at Waterford. 23: EAST TROY. 26: KENOSHA TREMPER (DOUBLEHEADER). May — 2: at Racine Park. 3: WILMOT. 5: at Union Grove. 6: JEFFERSON. 10: WESTOSHA CENTRAL. 12: at Elkhorn. 13: JANESVILLE CRAIG. 16: DELAVAN-DARIEN. 17: at Burlington. 20: WATERFORD. 24: at Wilmot. 26: KENOSHA BRADFORD. 31: WIAA regionals.
April 06, 2011 | 08:30 AM
The Badger baseball squad could go through some growing pains this season.

While seven seniors are back, the boys will miss some of their big guns from last year.

After a 14-11 record and a trip to the regional finals last summer, the Badgers graduated three players who are currently playing college baseball — catcher Colter Beck (Division 3 Cardinal Stritch), shortstop Clint Andresen (Cardinal Stritch) and outfielder Laramie Wieseman (D3 Beloit College). Andresen was a first team all-Southern Lakes Conference pick and led the squad with a .359 batting average. Badger also will miss Jake Hodgeman, an honorable mention all-conference selection who led the team with six home runs and 25 RBIs.

On the hill, the trio of Wieseman, Hodgeman and Andresen combined for nine of the team's 14 wins. Badger also lost solid senior contributors Nick Clapp, Alec Storms and Nick Elliott.

A lot of hitting and pitching production is gone, but coach Aaron Zweifel, now in his third season (27-19 overall), said the team is up for the challenge.

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"There is a lot to replace for sure," he said. "We lost a lot of experience, but we can't replace those guys. We will take our lumps on the mound because we don't really have a No. 1 pitcher. But solid defense will be a key to our season. We can only worry about what we can control. Each guy has to have a good approach at the plate, and defensively we have to make the routine plays. These guys genuinely enjoy being around each other, and they will play hard for each other."

Badger welcomes back seven key seniors, including left fielder Will Swanson, who hit .296 with 15 RBIs last year. Other seniors will include designated hitter Brad Nugent, pitcher Nick Brose, outfielders Tyler Woods, Max Fanning and Fred Laskowski, and first baseman Bobby Lamparek. Nugent is a left-handed batter who is one of the team's best hitters, according to Zweifel. Also, Zweifel expects Brose to eat up innings on the mound. The coach also is excited about his other seniors.

"Woods is a quick top-of-the-order guy," Zweifel said. "I'm expecting him to put up big numbers. Fanning is an upbeat kid who will provide great leadership. Lamparek is a solid defensive first baseman. Also, Laskowski is a great teammate who loves baseball. Fred shows up and works hard."

Junior Rory Klean, who plays just about anywhere, will be counted on to drive in runs, according to Zweifel. Kyle Burkoth, a left-handed batter and utility fielder who joined the team late last season, is the other returning junior.

Four returning sophomores will be in the fold this year. Colton Andresen went 3-2 on the mound as a freshman last year and was second on the team in games pitched. Peter Krien will start at catcher. Zweifel said Krien is a great leader and it will be nice to have him for the next three years. The two other sophomores will man the middle, with Eric Skipper starting at shortstop and Ian Weber at second base.

"Skipper is a really good athlete," Zweifel said. "He has a lot of range and was a good hitter on junior varsity last year. Also, Weber is a young guy who was moved up last year. He has a good frame of mind on the field and is mentally tough."

New to the squad this year are seniors Mike McBride (infield) and Nick Adams (pitcher/outfielder), both of whom missed last year after playing their freshman and sophomore seasons. Sophomore pitcher/outfielder Jason Marquez is another new addition. Zweifel believes the new trio will be solid.

"Mike is baseball fast," Zweifel said. "He gets on base and is an aggressive base runner. Adams has all the physical tools. And Marquez is a left-handed pitcher. He has a different arm angle and has some sneaky stuff."

Andresen will be the staff ace. Under him, Zweifel said Brose will be the No. 2 starter and Klean, Burkoth, Skipper, Weber and Marquez will provide innings on the mound.

Zweifel said the team's main goal is to compete and stay close in every game. He said varsity inexperience will be the team's biggest weakness. However, he is optimistic about his team's chances.

"We have seen a lot of improvement already," Zweifel said. "I will expect a lot of growth as the year goes on. Getting everyone in the right spots will be the toughest challenge. The conference is absolutely loaded with Wilmot, Union Grove, Waterford and Westosha. We want to be in a position to win games in the seventh inning."

Badger will travel to Westosha Central Thursday and return home Friday against Racine Case.

"We want to continue to improve," Zweifel said. "The SLC matters to us. We are playing some good hitting teams, but we want our first win. I hope to see the defense improve a bit, too."

A rough start

On Saturday, Badger lost both games of a doubleheader at Oregon.

In the first game, Madison La Follette, state runners-up in Division 1 a year ago, routed Badger 11-1 in five innings.

"It was good to play a tough team," Zweifel said. "La Follette is very good."

Krien went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Woods and Skipper each added a hit.

In the second tilt, Oregon, a defending conference champion, knocked off Badger, 16-4. Krien mashed a solo home run, and Klean added a two-run double. McBride snatched two stolen bases.

In the two games, Badger pitchers walked 17 batters and hit seven others with pitches.

"It was a good measuring stick for us," Zweifel said. "But we can't give things away. Our pitchers must hit their spots."

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