Kudos to PHS baseball team and coaches

SPORTSBEAT
Greg Ceilley • REVIEW SPORTS EDITOR

The 2016 Plymouth baseball team surprised many people, including myself, with the amount of success it achieved. The Panthers and their coaching staff should be commended.

This young team, which had only four upperclassmen, improved throughout the season and it paid off. The Panthers were the Big East Conference overall and large-school co-champions with Kiel with 16-4 records and PHS finished 19-11 overall.

Let’s be honest, a rebuilding year was in store for the Panthers after they lost all but two starters from last year’s very talented, veteran squad. The 2015 Panthers won the Eastern Wisconsin Conference title and qualified for the state tournament.

Head coach Butch Cain was confident this year’s team could have a good season and contend for the inaugural BEC crown. Cain and the team counted on the younger players to step up and make key contributions this year, and the underclassmen answered the call.

“It was a great team effort all year,” said junior Jake Steinhardt, a returning starter from 2015. “We gave a full effort.

“A lot of people didn’t think we would make it this far, losing a lot of seniors last year and having only two position players returning. We proved them wrong.”

The Panthers also won the program’s fifth straight regional championship before falling to New Holstein in the sectional semifinals.

“The young guys were huge contributors to our team and stepped up when they needed to, and I can’t wait to play with them next year,” said Steinhardt.

Steinhardt said the team was happy to repeat as the conference and regional champions but it wants to add to that next year.

“We want to work hard in the off-season and get ready for next year,” he said.

“I’m really proud of this young team. They really came together,” said Cain.

“There was noticeable progress by everyone. We did well in all facets.

“Our pitching and defense carried us all season but we got key contributions from a lot of guys. We found ways to get guys in scoring position and score runs.

“We had a lot of guys who didn’t necessarily show up in the boxscore but found a way to get on base via a walk or hit by pitch. We found a way to score enough runs to win games,” said Cain.

“We showed confidence and resolve all year. We had a lot of guys grow up.”

“This is a good character group. It was a total team effort,” said the coach.

This PHS team wasn’t as talented as other Panther teams in recent years but it had very good team chemistry, worked hard and executed well on offense, defense, pitching and base running.

“This year’s Panthers showed good discipline at the plate, did a nice job of moving runners over and put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with smart, aggressive baserunning.

The pitching staff was effective for the most part in making the opposition put the ball in play and making the defense work.

In several games the team delivered clutch hits and had batters throughout the lineup contribute.

The future of the PHS baseball program is very bright. This year’s varsity included seven sophomores and seven freshmen. Several of the underclassmen saw significant playing time. The Panthers lose only two seniors, including one starter, off the 2016 squad.

Panther senior Zac Kaiser said he’s not surprised the team won conference and regional titles.

“Our young players have really stepped up their game this year and have really helped our team. They have played big roles on this year’s team,” said Kaiser.

“I’m very proud of this team.”

I’m sure the Panther fans and the Plymouth community are also proud of the 2016 PHS baseball team.


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