Panthers’ Steinhardt BEC’s Player of the Year

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff

JAKE STEINHARDT JAKE STEINHARDT Junior Jake Steinhardt of Plymouth, a pitcher/infielder/outfielder, was voted the Big East Conference’s Player of the Year by the BEC coaches for the inaugural 2016 baseball season.

Steinhardt, a unanimous first-tea choice at the utility position, had an outstanding season on offense. He led the league in RBIs with 29, ranked third in batting with a sizzling .475 average and tied for third in home runs with Kiel’s Alex Winkel at three each.

He also had a fine conference season on the mound – posting a 3-2 record with a 3.20 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 35 innings. Steinhardt also had a save.

“He is so determined to be the best baseball player he can be and has made a huge commitment to getting better each and every day during and outside of the season,” said PHS head coach Butch Cain.

“His team believed in him and needed a big year from him. He went out and put together an incredible season.

“Being the longest-term veteran on the Panthers, his leadership proved invaluable to our team’s success,” said Cain.

Steinhardt scored 30 runs, hit six doubles and three triples, had an impressive .553 on-base average and .814 slugging percentage and was 10-for-10 stealing bases in league play.

Also earning first-team honors for the Panthers is junior Derek Schweiger at pitcher. Schweiger had a 6-1 record with an excellent 1.91 ERA in league play. Schweiger finished second in the BEC in victories. He fanned 38 batters in 44 innings and allowed 40 hits and 13 walks.

Schweiger, who also played first base, batted .373 with 14 RBIs, one homer and an impressive .571 onbase average.

“Derek was our go-to guy in the conference on the mound and kept us in games with his determination and heart. Our guys fed off his energy and attitude, and truly believed he gave us a chance for victory every night out,” said Cain.

DEREK SCHWEIGER DEREK SCHWEIGER “Derek led the Panthers in just about every pitching category during conference play. He displayed power, consistency and incredible patience at the plate which allowed him to post some eye-catching numbers on offense.”

Cain and Kiel head coach Brad Mey were named the BEC’s Co- Coaches of the Year for the largeschool division. PHS and Kiel shared the large division and overall BEC titles with 16-4 records.

Random Lake head coach Mike Donahue was selected the BEC’s small-school division Coach of the Year. Donahue guided the Rams to the small-school crown with an 11-9 league record.

The Panthers’ other All-BEC players include sophomore center fielder Taylor Struve and senior third baseman Austin Struve on the second team and freshman infielder Joe Steinhardt, honorable mention.

The Howards Grove Tigers have five all-league picks, led by freshman shortstop Nic Koenig who was voted to the second unit. The other selections, each honorable mention, are sophomore pitcher Isaac Dirker, senior third baseman Zac Stauss, sophomore outfielder Eric Reinemann and freshman outfielder Gavin Winter.

The Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah Resorters have two All-BEC players, both on the second team – junior Brennen Cain, a pitcher/infielder/ outfielder, and senior shortstop Stephan Clemens. Cain was selected as a utility player.

Austin Struve (Taylor’s older brother) hit .345 with nine RBIs and 27 runs.

“Austin moved into a starting role for us this season and made an immediate impact on both sides of the ball. His defense at third base was second to none in the conference and his consistent contributions on offense were vitally important to our ability to manufacture runs,” said Cain.

Taylor Struve batted .354 with 12 RBIs and 13 runs.

“Taylor made difficult plays look easy for us on defense by getting to balls from gap to gap and playing what we believe was the best center field in the conference,” Cain pointed out.

“He understood what his team needed from him and executed night in and night out. He contributed on offense with his speed and timely hitting which propelled us to a few late-game victories as well.”

Joe Steinhardt hit .342, had five RBIs and scored seven runs.

“Joe stepped in for us and supplied some additional punch to our lineup. His approach allowed him to get on base at a high clip as well as advance runners from the middle of our order,” said coach Cain.

“Joe’s defense continued to improve during the season while he displayed the potential to play anywhere on the diamond.

“The Panthers are both happy and proud of our 2016 all-conference recipients. Our entire team took great pride in making a conference championship run which played an important role in us having five named to this year’s team [All-BEC list].”

“The coaching honor is nice but coaches only earn recognition when their teams have success. I would like to congratulate the Panther players and the entire coaching staff for working closely together in pursuit of the team’s common goals.”

Koenig hit an impressive .354 with 12 RBIs and two triples for the overall season (20 of the 22 games were in BEC play). He scored 14 runs and had a fine on-base percentage of .447.

“Earning all-conference votes is rare for a freshman. He pitched, played shortstop and center field, filling a huge void left by all-state player Zach Fritz. Nic hit an amazing .354,” said Tiger head coach Mark Weber.

Fritz was an all-state first-team center fielder last year as a senior.

Dirker was 1-3 with a strong 2.69 ERA for the season. He recorded 26 strikeouts, walked 12 and allowed 37 hits in 39 innings.

“Isaac gained respect from the BEC coaches by pitching quality games and earning All-BEC honors. He took a 0-0 game into the ninth against Kiel. His strike-out/walk ratio was 26-12,” said Weber.

Stauss hit an outstanding .353 with 15 RBIs and 10 runs.

“Zac had a solid year at the plate, hitting cleanup for us. Zac played third base/outfield and designated hitter in 2016 and logged some valuable pitching innings for us,” Weber noted.

Reinemann batted .281 with nine RBIs and 13 runs.

“Eric earned All-BEC with his all-around athletic ability to run, hit, catch, and throw which makes him so valuable to our team. He led the team in doubles with six.”

Reinemann made only one error all season.

Winter hit .232 with seven RBIs and nine runs. He committed only one error this past season.

“Gavin played a great center field for us. Gavin stepped in and did an amazing job,” said the Tiger coach.

“He is very athletic and made most of the plays needed to give us an opportunity to win. Gavin’s batting average with runners in scoring position was a very respectable .350.”

Cain hit .339 and had 21 RBIs in league play. He scored 18 runs, slugged one homer and stole seven bases in eight tries.

Clemens batted .286 with 13 RBIs and 20 runs. He stole a leaguehigh 12 bases in 12 attempts.

The other unanimous first-team picks are junior pitcher John VanderPloeg and junior second baseman Ross Krist of Sheboygan Falls and junior infielder Trent Nickel of Kiel.

Josh Burg of New Holstein was the BEC batting champion with a scorching .517 average. Oostburg’s Jonah Frier was second at a .478 clip.

Kiel’s Austin Goehring and Jon Meyer led in home runs with four each.

Carson Heus of New Holstein was the ERA champion with an astounding 0.26, followed by Owen Olson of NH with 0.66. Nick Walsh of Kiel earned a league-high eight wins (8-0 record). Meyer struck out a league-high 58 batters in only 38- 1/3 innings.

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