Consistent lineup crucial to Flames’ hopes

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – To be competitive this season, the Plymouth Flame baseball team needs to have a consistent lineup.

Unfortunately for the Flames, they have been without several starters for a majority of the season thus far. Also, they have a lot of turnover on the roster from last year’s ball club which had a strong season.

The 2017 squad finished 20- 10 overall, won the Tri-County Nite League and qualified for the Rock River League play- offs. Plymouth was eliminated in the first round of the Rock River playoffs with a 3-1 loss to Kewaskum.

“This is the second year in a row of major roster turnover. In just a two-year period we have lost 10 players [eight fulltime and a couple of more part timers who have contributed significantly to the team’s success,” said veteran Flame manager Rick Meyer.

“Last year we were able to plug a few holes but this year has proved to be a challenge so far. With the terrible spring, we literally did not get outside until the first game. This made it more difficult to truly assess the roster situation. We just need to grind it out until we get a better grasp on the roster/schedule flow.”

Having inconsistent lineups has been a key factor in the Flames’ slow start. The team was 1-4 in the Rock River League Northern Division and 5-8 overall going into this week.

Meyer pointed out the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I think our relative youth will be a plus but also a weakness. We will be able to physically go out and play but no one has really stepped forward and taken ownership of the team,” he said.

We need to mature on the field. We are playing sloppy baseball and it may take some time to see the results.

“We have some pitching depth but we are thin on the infield. We are going through some growing pains right now,” said Meyer.

The Flames lost some key players from last season but return two of their top hitters in catcher Mike Daly and first baseman/pitcher Zac Cain. Daly was second on the team in batting last year with a .423 average, followed by Cain at .406. Cain was the RBI leader with 41.

Among the pitchers are Derek Hall, who had a team-high eight wins last season, and Nick Wilson who led in ERA with 2.36, followed by Hall at 2.88. The Flames added Matt Olig to the pitching staff. Olig, who played baseball at Plymouth High School, was a starting pitcher at Concordia University in Mequon this past spring.

“We just need numbers so that we can field a consistent lineup,” said Meyer when asked what the key will be for the team to have success.

Meyer pointed out his top goal for the season.

“At this point we just want to become competitive,” he said.

Plymouth finished third in the Rock River’s Northeast Division last year with a 10-6 mark. The league’s Northeast and Northwest divisions in 2017 were reformed into the Northern Division this year. Meyer gave his thoughts on who the top teams are in the division.

“Kewaskum and Brownsville look tough and Oakfield may surprise a few people. Hartford is also very solid,” said Meyer.

Plymouth will also play in the Southeast Wisconsin Baseball League this season. Meyer said West Bend 7-Up, Kewaskum, Clyman, Kenosha and Hartford seem to be the strongest teams in the league.

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