Eagles building a foundation for baseball success
Team has experienced nucleus
Sunday, March 31, 2013 7:00 PM
A talented and experienced junior class is leading a baseball revival in Stephenson.
The Eagles' club team returns 11 of 14 players from last season's squad which posted a 10-10 record.
The program was brought back to life last year and coach Dan Koller feels this year's team will go a long way toward sustaining baseball as a club sport in Stephenson.
"We've got a bunch of kids who are talented on the field and good athletes," said Koller. "They're hungry. They want to be competitive. I knew that if we wanted to build on a high school class, these were the kids to do it."
After playing mainly an Upper Peninsula schedule last season, Stephenson has scheduled M&O Conference teams this year.
"We're pretty confident we can take on a tougher schedule," the coach noted.
Co-captains Matt Hanson and Eduardo Becerra lead a deep pitching rotation. Hanson is a hard-throwing righthander while Becerra will keep hitters guessing with his four-pitch assortment, including an occasional knuckle ball.
Hanson and Becerra have traveled to Marinette to learn from Marinette pitching guru John LaCourt.
Senior Rickey Chaney is a lefty with good control and a strong pickoff move and senior Arzack Brown will also see extensive mound duty.
Chaney gives the Eagles a speed merchant in the leadoff spot of the batting order.
Brown will do the catching when he isn't pitching and junior Quintin Lukasik will be strong behind the plate when Brown is pitching.
Junior Alex Starzynski, a left-handed hitter, and senior Jeremy Koller will rotate at first base, and first-year sophomore Jake Cole will also see duty at first.
Junior Trevor Christopherson and Lukasik will split time at second base, with junior Andrew Dahlberg and freshman Nate Rasner also seeing playing time at second.
Becerra and Hanson will handle the shortstop duties, with sophomore Travis Phillips and Christopherson also seeing time there.
Hanson will man third base when he isn't at short with Brown, Christopherson and Dahlberg also playing the hot corner.
"Defense should be one of our strengths," Koller explained. "These kids know how to play the game."
Chaney has nailed down the center field duties.
Dahlberg's twin brother, Bradley, sophomore Travis Phillips and first-year senior T.J. Raether will see playing time at the corner outfield spots. Raether is out for baseball for the first time since Senior League.
"We're pretty excited," Koller noted. "This junior class has developed into a pretty good class of athletes. I think we're going to surprise some people. Looking at the schedule, I think we can compete with anyone. I think it's going to be a good year."
Koller pointed out that he is grateful for the assistance of LaCourt and former Wausaukee coach Bill Wickman, who has kept himself available for advice to the Eagles' coaching staff.
Former Marinette High School standout Steve Prange will be the assistant coach and Bob Berglin and Tim Starzynski are also helping out with the team.
The Eagles' season opener against Marinette has been canceled. Stephenson hopes to open its season April 8 against St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.