High hopes for experienced Tigers

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

HOWARDS GROVE – The Howards Grove Tigers, under veteran head coach Mark Weber, have high hopes for the 2014 baseball season.

The Tigers return 11 letter winners from last year’s squad which tied for third in the Central Lakeshore Conference at 11-7 and finished 14-9 overall. HGHS was a regional finalist.

“I’m very optimistic. We have a solid core of returning players and a very talented influx of freshmen,” said Weber who’s in his 20th season at the helm.

Our pitching staff remains, plus we’ve added two talented underclassmen and a very talented catcher.”

Heading the list of returnees are junior pitcher-outfielder Zach Fritz and senior pitcher-center fielder Austin Edge who were All-CLC first-team players at pitcher and outfielder, respectively, last season. Fritz led the Tigers in batting with a .356 average and ERA with an outstanding 1.93 in 2013. He was 4-0 on the mound.

Edge paced the Tigers in RBIs with 16, runs scored with 20 and stolen bases, 23. Fritz was second in steals at 22.

Weber expects his seniors, Edge, Terry Fritsch and Nick Merenick to be the team’s leaders. The coach said infielders Andrew Reinemann and Bryce Hoffmann, right fielder Alex Strege and newcomer Dakota Rabe, a left fielder, will also play key roles.

“The sophomores, Travis Stanczyk at catcher; Zac Stauss, outfield; Brad Olson, outfield, first base and pitcher; along with Collin Meyer at utility will compete for positions,” said Weber.

“Our freshmen group is very promising with Caleb Holzman, Bryce Pedrin, and Matt Bagnall all playing infield and can pitch. We’re also excited about Jake Fritz, brother of Zach, as a catcher and hitter with power. Noah Bramstedt will play outfield and adds lots of speed to the team.”

Weber pointed out the team’s strengths and weakness.

“Our strength is our program based on fundamentals. Our weakness is the same as for any team: distractions. We work hard at limiting those and staying focused on our goals,” he said.

Weber thinks the team has good depth at all of the positions, especially pitching.

Weber said the keys to success this season will be for the team to stay true to the program’s process and limiting distractions.

Looking at the CLC race, Weber predicts it will be very competitive as it was last year. Sheboygan Lutheran/Kohler and Cedar Grove-Belgium are the defending co-champions. Ozaukee shared third with HGHS. Weber expects his team to contend for the championship.

“The team that stays healthy, best avoids distractions and overcomes mental mistakes will emerge on top,” Weber said.

His top goals for the season are to win CLC, regional, sectional and state titles.

June 17 – @ Elkhart Lake
June 20 – Ozaukee, here
June 23 – @ Random Lake
June 25 – Homestead, here
June 27 – Elkhart Lake, here
June 30 – @ Sheb. Luth./Kohler (2)
July 2 – @ Ozaukee
July 7 – Oostburg (2), here
July 9 – Random Lake, here
July 13 – Kiel, @ Fox Cities Stadium
July 15 – Regional, TBA


Seniors – *Austin Edge (P-CF-1B), *Terry Fritsch (SS-P-OF) and *Nick Merenick (IF-Utlity).

Juniors – Dakota Rabe (OF-Util.), *Zach Fritz (P-CF-Util.), *Bryce Hoffmann (SS-P), *Andrew Reinemann (2B-IF) and *Alex Strege (OF).

Sophomores – *Travis Stanczyk (C-Util.), *Zac Stauss (OF-IF), *Brad Olson (OF-P-DH) and *Colin Meyer (OF-IF-P)

Freshmen – Bryce Pedrin (Util.), Noah Bramstedt (Util.), Caleb Holzman (P-IF), Matt Bagnall (P-1B) and Jake Fritz (C-Util.). ___* _- _ R_e_tu_r_n_in_g_ _ le_t_te_r_ w_i_ n_e_r._____

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