SPASH baseball opens season on roll
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
With a young nucleus and some key returnees back from a year ago, the Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) baseball team is off to a strong start this season.
The Panthers returned three starters from last year’s team that finished 15-14 overall, and improved to 11-2 this season with a 13-2 win at Merrill in five innings Tuesday, May 8.
“It’s been kind of a blur, we don’t play for five weeks, and then all of sudden you’re playing, five, six games a week,” said SPASH baseball head coach Kraig Terpstra of this season. “But it’s going well.
“We’ve got a really, really good group of young men,” he said.
SPASH lost two-time All-State and Unanimous First Team All-Wisconsin Valley Conference (WVC) center fielder Gus Turner-Zick and Second Team All-WVC first baseman Joe Strigel from last season, when the Panthers were knocked out of the playoffs with a loss to eventual State Semifinalist Eau Claire North in the Sectional Semifinals.
Leading the way at the top of the order this season has been junior center fielder Brady Franz, along returning starters in First Team All-WVC junior shortstop Brett Ehr, junior first baseman/designated hitter Jack Kelly and Honorable Mention All-WVC senior third baseman Cole Wright.
“Brady has been playing excellent center field and has done a good job of getting on base,” said Terpstra. “Brett is a talented player whose stick is really starting to come around for us.
“Jack is a tremendous hitter, he has really improved his defense, and is a great young player with a really big future,” he said. “And Cole has been outstanding for us and just clutch; all of our big RBI early in the season were from him.”
Senior first baseman/pitcher Isaac Perner, junior right fielder Tristan Aldrich and senior second basemen Michael Glodosky have moved into the starting lineup this season, while junior outfielder Mason King is expected to see regular playing time after battling an ankle injury this spring.
“Isaac has just been tremendous in all facets, as far as a great defensive first baseman, he’s pitched extremely well for us, and he’s really started to hit well for us also,” said Terpstra. “Tristan has made the most of opportunities and has hit the ball well for us and played himself into some playing time.
“Mike is one of the best defensive second basemen I’ve coached, and has had some good at bats,” he said. “And once he’s healthy Mason will be a big player, I love his speed and I love his stick.”
Senior John Bohanski, senior Jacob Danielsen and sophomore Vinnie Fonti are battling at catcher, while senior third baseman/outfielder Sam Lawrynk, sophomore outfielder Dayne Hoyord, sophomore infielder Austin Beyer and sophomore infielder Barrett Brooks are also in the mix for playing time, along with a junior class that includes outfielder JD Schultz, infielder Justin Morton, outfielder Dylan Trigg, infielder Dylan Davis, outfielder Reese Gaber, catcher/outfielder Austin Stankowski and outfielder Vinny Garth.
“I like our team,” said Terpstra. “We’ve don’t have a lot of seniors, but they’re showing some good leadership, and our junior class is really strong and there are some promising young players.
“It’s been an enjoyable group to work with so far,” he said.
With Honorable Mention All-WVC senior pitcher Legend Kieliszewski out for the year due to an off-season injury, the SPASH pitching staff consists of Honorable Mention All-WVC pitcher Trigg, Perner, Schultz, Franz, Gaber, Beyer, Davis, Wright and freshman Logan Schulfer.
“Losing Legend, our leading pitcher from last year and our only senior pitcher coming back, to a wrist injury from falling on the ice, was a big blow,” said Terpstra. “But with all of these games, it’s really nice having Reese as a lefty, I’ve used him in five or six games already, he’s a good kind of a change up.
“JD has done well whenever he’s gotten the opportunity, and Dylan Trigg is a guy that has a lot of experience, so he’s pitched some of our bigger games,” he said. “Isaac is someone that’s really come on, I just love his poise and composure on the mound, and then we’ve still got a guy like Brady who we can use to close. So I like our depth.”
The Panthers opened this season with five wins in a row, before it lost the second game of a doubleheader at then-fourth-ranked Green Bay Preble April 28.
SPASH bounced back with four more wins in a row to improve to 9-1, before it split a doubleheader with reigning WVC Champion Wausau West Monday, May 7, then beat Merrill Tuesday night.
That left the Panthers (6-1 in WVC) tied at the top of the conference standings with D.C. Everest (6-1), ahead of Wausau West (6-2) and Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln (3-3), with a game at home against Merrill (0-7) Thursday May 10, and a pair of conference games left against both Everest May 15 and 17, and Wausau East (0-4) May 22 and 24.
“It’s a really strong conference,” said Terpstra. “Rapids has a very good team, Everest is very good, and West has two outstanding, college-bound pitchers that we saw (Monday), and I thought we battled hard.”
SPASH will host Chippewa Falls in a doubleheader at Bukolt Park at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 12, and also has nonconference doubleheaders at De Pere Saturday, May 19, and at home against Neenah May 26 to close the regular season, before the WIAA Division 1 Playoffs begin May 29.
“We want to improve, so that late May, we give ourselves a chance,” said Terpstra. “This is a big week for us, and then there’s two weeks left of the conference season to fight for a good (playoff) seed.
“But we want to be peaking when the tournament hits,” he said. “The conference is up in the air for a lot of teams, we’d like to have a shot at that, and keep the strong tradition of SPASH baseball. I really want the kids to enjoy their experience.”