Panthers’ Steinhardt BEC’s top player again

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff

JAKE STEINHARDT JAKE STEINHARDT Senior Jake Steinhardt of Plymouth, a pitcher/utility player, was voted the Big East Conference’s Co-Player of the Year for the large-school division by the division coaches for the 2017 baseball season.

Steinhardt is a unanimous all division first-team pick at pitcher and utility. He also played infield and outfield for the Panthers. Steinhardt was a unanimous All- BEC first-team utility player last year.

Steinhardt shares the POY award with senior Owen Olson of New Holstein. Olson is a unanimous first-team pitcher and infielder.

Steinhardt was the BEC’s Player of the Year in 2016 for the large-school and small-school divisions combined.

The Panthers’ other first-team pick is junior outfielder Taylor Struve. Plymouth’s other All- BEC selections, each on the second team, are sophomore catcher Will Birkholz, junior utility player Ben Picard and junior outfielder Isaac Fintak.

TAYLOR STRUVE TAYLOR STRUVE Steinhardt had an impressive conference season on offense. He led the division in batting with a scorching .508 average and hits with 32, was second in runs with 31 and tied for seventh in RBIs with 18 in conference action. Steinhardt hit one home run, seven doubles and one triple.

He had an on-base percentage of .603 and a slugging average of .698. Steinhardt stole 13 bases in 15 attempts.

On the mound, Steinhardt was outstanding as he ranked fifth in the division in ERA with 0.99 and third in strikeouts with 38 in 35- 1/3 innings. He allowed only 14 hits and posted a 4-2 record.

“Jake was well deserving of all the accolades he garnered. Jake was a consummate team player and leader for us,” said Panther head coach Butch Cain.

“Because of his outstanding season on the diamond he was chosen as one of the two best pitchers in our conference. He was at or near the top in most pitching and offensive categories. Jake played great defense no matter where we needed him to play again this season.

“It is truly nice to see that all of his hard work, determination and commitment to our team over the past four years was recognized by the coaches in our conference,” said Cain.

Struve had an outstanding season on offense. He finished second in the division in hitting with a red-hot .470 average, tied for second in hits with 31, was second in steals with 16 out of 17 attempts and was fourth in runs at 28.

The center fielder contributed 16 RBIs, one homer, four doubles and three triples. Struve had an on-base average of .532 and a .667 slugging percentage.

“Taylor’s many talents were a large part of our team’s success. His outfield play was second to none and his speed helped us apply a considerable amount of pressure on the opposing team’s defense as he became our team leader in steals,” Cain noted.

“Taylor played a large role in our team’s ability to score runs with both his timely and consistent hitting.”

Birkholz batted .268 with 19 RBIs, 10 runs and five doubles. He ranked sixth in the division in RBIs. He threw out six runners trying to steal.

“Will was the best defensive catcher in our league. He earned the trust of our pitchers and worked in unison with our entire staff,” Cain pointed out.

“His leadership was vital to our growth. He had many clutch hits for us and was able to reach base at a high clip, aiding our offensive attack.”

Picard hit .327 and contributed 11 RBIs, 16 runs and three doubles. He had a 3-0 pitching mark with an excellent 1.38 ERA.

“Ben turned in a fantastic season in our pitching rotation and led us out of quite a few tight situations throughout the year. He played solid defense for us in the outfield/infield,” said Cain.

“Ben also turned into a tough out and a true leadoff hitter for us with some of our finest quality at bats of the season.”

Fintak hit .340 with seven RBIs, 19 runs and five doubles. He stole 13 bases in 14 tries.

“Isaac played some of the finest left field in the conference for us while having a breakout season. His hitting and on-base percentage surged as the season progressed,” Cain said.

The other first-team repeaters include Olson, senior infielder Ross Krist of Sheboygan Falls, senior infielder Trenton Nickel of Kiel and senior outfielder Trent Winkel from NH.

Olson finished third in the division in batting at .463. Senior catcher Austin Goehring of Kiel was first in home runs with six and RBIs, 32. Nickel led in steals with 18.

Junior Carson Heus of NH was the ERA leader with 0.29.

Kiel sophomore Austin Conrad led in wins with seven. Conrad recorded a division-high 53 strike-outs in 54-2/3 innings.

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