This is how it works for the Greyhound baseball program.
They lost their W.I.A.A. regional game to Nicolet on July 20. It was a contest that was an uphill battle for Shorewood against a hard-hitting top-seeded squad playing on its home field.
But they had a spirited infield session before the game and, though they fell behind early, the players kept up the chatter all game long, encouraging each other and letting everyone know that they just weren't going through the motions. They were helped along by a large fan base on the balmy summer night.
"We're not used to bringing this many people here," one parent could be overheard saying to another.
They even made their hosts a little uncomfortable in a competitive manner late in the game before falling. They finished with a 7-27 record.
Then it got even better, as veteran Shorewood coach Tom Meyer went about the process of praising the team for a good effort and a good summer, though the youthful team had a hard time staying with certain teams at times.
He started the process of collecting uniforms and made sure everyone got organized for the ride home. Then he made the rare sportsmanlike gesture of walking up to Knights coach Dick Sykes and offering him his detailed scouting cards of the Nicolet seniors.
Those were items he wouldn't be needing anymore and he thought Sykes' players might like them as mementos.
Meyer always referred to his players as "classy young men." His mannerisms and attention to detail were not lost on his Athletic Director Bill Haury.
"He always has it the way it should be," Haury said. "All about the kids."
Seniors include team MVP Joe Kelley, Dylan Knutson, Pat Leitheiser and Joseph Richter. Meyer is very encouraged about all the returning talent on the junior-laden team including first-team All-Woodland Conference selection Declan Gruber.
Brown Deer baseball
Coach Mike Donahue always insisted that the Falcons could play with just about anyone when they were motivated to.
And he was right, as his youthful squad kept competing right up to the very end of a solid 18-16 season, pulling an upset in W.I.A.A. regional play over host Cedarburg and then taking eventual state tournament qualifier Grafton right to the edge before falling in a sectional semifinal.
"We're a very capable team on our good days," he said.
And they did it with a unit that had only three senior starters.
They included outfielder and all-around star Danny Korpela (.469 batting average, .549 on-base percentage, 24 RBIs, six doubles, six triples and 30 runs scored); infielder and relief pitcher-without-peer Joey Mattefs and outfielder Dylan Coleman.
There were four freshmen on the roster, including W.I.A.A. tournament starting pitcher Drew Worth and starting shortstop Jake Schimenz, and people like junior Chris Smith, who filled in for Schimenz quite capably when Schimenz was lost for the season with a late-summer injury.
There were also people like junior Brett Youngbeck, who made the sacrifice of moving from shortstop to the much more difficult position of catcher. His stats (.393 BA, 28 RBIs, seven doubles, four triples and 26 runs scored) didn't suffer, nor did his attitude, said Donahue.
Outfielder Sean Andryauskas (.426 BA, 22 RBI and 22 runs scored) was also a big help. Another senior was Ryan Krauser.
Whitefish Bay baseball
An enormous loss of senior leadership and talent, a top player not coming out this summer and lots of young players didn't prevent the Blue Dukes from staying competitive in a 19-22 summer that included a W.I.A.A. sectional berth.
The Blue Duke season ended in a disappointing loss to area rival Nicolet in the sectional semifinals. It was the final game for senior designated hitter and first baseman Jeff Kerr, who earned first-team All-North Shore Conference honors.
"He was our rock, the person we went to," said Blue Duke coach Jay Wojcinski. He was also the only senior on the roster this year. A roster that included a freshman starter in John Markwiese and a junior infielder in Mike Leckie, who also earned first-team All-North Shore honors.
The rest of the roster was heavily junior-dominated, though sophomores like Pat Rose, James Stecker and Justin Alt did play huge roles over the course of the season.
Bay earned its sectional berth with a W.I.A.A. regional triumph over Homestead, which gave the Blue Dukes the season series over their North Shore rivals, 2-1.
- Steven L. Tietz
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