Consistent lineup key to Plymouth Flames’ hopes in LOL campaign

Matt Kraus Review correspondent

PLYMOUTH — “We have a very tough schedule to start the season. The way we’ve played to start the season has been encouraging but I believe that maintaining a consistent lineup will be a key to sustaining that level of play,” said Plymouth Flame player-manager Rick Meyer.

The Flames opened the 2014 season with wins over the Forest ACs and the Johnsburg ACs, and a 7-6 loss against defending Land O’ Lakes Baseball League Northern Division champion Cedarburg.

In league play, Meyer said Cedarburg, Saukville and Grafton will be the teams to beat. The Flames finished fourth in the division with an 8-10 record and were 14-15 overall last season.

“We will be competitive again this year. I hope we can finish in the top three. We have the talent to play with anyone but need to put it all together to make that top three.”

“Consistency is the key. Our older players are still quite good, but we need our younger players to become our stars if we’re going to take this team to the next level.”

Two new players join the Flames in 2014. Matt Rhude played a few games with the Flames last season and joins the team on a full-time basis after graduating from Plymouth High School in 2013. Rhude will bolster the pitcher staff and add depth to the outfield.

Outfielder Austin Mork is a rookie who joins the Flames after a successful career at Sheboygan North and as a member of the Sheboygan Legion program. Meyer said Mork has looked good in the early season.

According to Meyer, “Devin Christenson [pitcher] is the only player we expect to lose who has contributed significantly in recent years.”

“The team’s roster is in a bit of flux right now. There are a couple of other players who may be moving on but nothing is definite at this time,” added Meyer.

Matt Schroeder, pitcher/infielder, was the only member of the Flames to be elected to the league all-star game in 2013 – making the Northern Division squad as a reserve pitcher. He is attempting to comeback from a severe knee injury sustained last season which limited him to only 11 games.

“His recovery is a key to our season. He looked good in his three-inning stint against Johnsburg [May 4], and that is enby couraging,” said Meyer.

Schroeder led the Flames’ pitching staff in ERA last year with 2.87 and was also the batting leader with an impressive .432 average.

“Evan Walsh’s status [as an outfielder] is also up in the air with a series of recent injuries,” Meyer said.

“Dusty Medved [veteran catcher] is battling early-season arm and shoulder problems which will keep him out from the behind the plate, but, at this point, has not kept him off of the field all together.”

Medved led Plymouth in RBIs in 2013 with 21.

Meyer said that pitching depth and team defense are two of the Flames’ strengths.

“Team hitting, especially for power, will be a team weakness. With our older roster, we also struggle with team speed,” added Meyer.

Regardless of ability, consistency for the Flames is a key to the season.

“We will continue to strive for a more consistent lineup this year. However, the way our roster is currently made up, this could still be a problem. Having an older roster does tend to produce more conflicts with work and family [commitments],” Meyer said.

“The reality is that it’s hard to consistently win at this level without having your No. 1 lineup out there at all times.”

PLYMOUTH FLAMES REMAINING SCHEDULE
May 21 – Manitowoc, here
May 23 – at Menasha
May 25 – Grafton, here
May 28 – Menasha, here
May 30 – Two Rivers, here
June 1 – Cedarburg, here
June 4 – Grafton, here
June 6 – Branch, here
June 8 – West Bend, here
June 11 – Pokel Tourney, here
June 13 – Pokel Tourney, here
June 15 – Port Washington, here
June 18 – Pokel Tourney, here
June 20 – Pokel Tourney, here
June 22 – @ Thiensville-Mequon
June 28 – @ Saukville
June 29 – @ West Bend
July 2 – Howards Grove, here

July 6 – @ Cedarburg
July 9 – @ Port Washington
July 16 – Saukville, here
July 20 – @ Grafton
July 23 – @ Manitowoc
July 25 – Port Washington, here
July 27 – @ Howards Grove
Aug. 2 – Thiensville-Mequon, here
PLYMOUTH FLAMES ROSTER
David Albrecht (utility), Chris Bennin (IF),
Butch Cain (3B), Travis Christenson (P-OF), Michael DuCharme (1B), Joel Fabian (OF), Paul
Gloede (2B) and Eric Heidenreiter (OF).
Jake Klemme (C-OF), Eric Leinen (IF),
Dusty Medved (C-IF), Rick Meyer (1B-manager), Austin Mork (OF), Matt Rhude (P-OF), Matt
Schroeder (P-IF), Dave Stecker (SS-P), Ryan
Wachter (P-OF), Evan Walsh (OF) and Nick
Wilson (P-utility).


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