Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Kukla takes over Seniors

by Mike Ramczyk

June 16, 2011

Genoa City — This summer will be a season of change for area legion baseball.

Unlike last year, there will be no merger between Genoa City and Lake Geneva. Last year’s senior legion squad, the Geneva/Genoa Red Legs, will now simply be the Genoa City 19U Senior Legion.

Also, Post 24 will represent the Lake Geneva 16U Junior Legion squad. Coach Rick Schiltz said a merger just wasn’t in the works this year.

“We couldn’t get enough home games at Badger,” Schiltz said. “It wasn’t an efficient situation. It was like this three years ago.”

The change may be the biggest with the Genoa City Senior Legion squad. As the Geneva/Genoa Red Legs last summer, the experienced bunch lost in sectionals and finished slightly above .500 for the season. The squad featured big boppers like Colter Beck, Clint Andresen and Laramie Wieseman, all of whom are now playing college baseball.

But this year’s team, consisting of 16 players mostly from Badger, Wilmot and Westosha Central, will need to rely on its youth. Also, the team features a new coach. Gary Kukla takes over for last year’s skipper, Curt Andresen, who will stay on as an assistant.

For Kukla, an assistant varsity coach at Wilmot who has previous legion experience, the summer legion season is about developing players.

“We want to win,” he said. “But we also want to teach guys how to play for varsity teams.”

Compared to last season, this year’s Senior Legion team will be very young. Kukla said many of the 18- and 19-year-old players are on traveling teams in the summer. The team features six Badger players, including senior Rory Klean and juniors Peter Krien, Colton Andresen, Eric Skipper, Jason Marquez and Ian Weber. Wilmot players will include 2011 graduate Jay Christian, senior Kevin Conrad and juniors Marcus Page, Scott Litwin, Corey Crowder and Zach Faber.

Other players include Westosha Central’s Brian Kretschmer, Williams Bay’s Scott Holmes and Antioch’s Erik Kremers.

During the spring high school season, Andresen, Kretschmer and Christian all landed honorable mention on the all-Southern Lakes team. Andresen and Kretschmer will serve as the team’s key pitchers.

“These guys are playing better competition in legion ball,” he said. “We need to develop guys. The older kids are so much better. We have a lot of inexperience. But we will get better as a team as the season goes on.”

Kukla said the boys were never outmatched a year ago, but it could be different this season.

He is excited to turn the young guys into solid varsity players.

“Legion ball gives us an opportunity to turn infielders to outfielders or move guys around,” Kukla said. “We will be able to give kids options to play on varsity.”

While Kukla said Andresen and Kretschmer are the team’s best pitchers, he is also expecting contributions on the hill from Page and Litwin. He also is excited about Christian.

“Jay just graduated from Wilmot,” Kukla said. “He will provide great leadership.”

The boys started the season out right last Thursday with a 7-0 rout of East Troy.

Andresen fired a three-hitter with 14 strikeouts. Leading the way at the plate was Skipper, who smacked an RBI triple.