All-state team honors Plymouth, HG players

by Dave Boehler
Review Sports Editor

TAYLOR STRUVE was one of two Plymouth baseball players to make second-team all state. The senior outfielder led the EWC with 30 runs. – Review file photoTAYLOR STRUVE was one of two Plymouth baseball players to make second-team all state. The senior outfielder led the EWC with 30 runs. – Review file photo
It’s not every year Plymouth lands two players on the all state baseball team.

“Yeah, it’s something that doesn’t happen very often,” Panthers’ coach Butch Cain said. “Especially for teams up in this area.”

Seniors Holden Reilly and Taylor Struve earned a spot on the second team, and junior teammates Will Birkholz and Joe Steinhardt received honorable mention. Three players from Howards Grove also earned honorable mention: Seniors Isaac Dirker and Eric Reinemann, and junior Nic Koenig.

Plymouth not only won the Eastern Wisconsin Conference championship for the sixth year in a row, the Panthers finished with a 27-7 record after reaching state (they lost in the semifinals) for the second time in four seasons.


HOLDEN REILLY also earned a spot on the all-state second team after the pitcher was recently tabbed the conference player of the year. – Review file photo HOLDEN REILLY also earned a spot on the all-state second team after the pitcher was recently tabbed the conference player of the year. – Review file photo Reilly, a pitcher who was already tabbed the player of the year in the league, will continue the sport at Marian University. He was 8-0 in the EWC with a 0.88 earned run average.

“He got the ball in all of our big games,” Cain said. “He had an exceptional year on the mound. Control was with him every night out. He didn’t have any of those real bad innings. His consistency and ability to battle, compete against virtually every batter was uncommon. We just don’t see a lot of that happening. Even if a guy was hot, he went deep in the count and trusted his defense. I think that had a lot to do with his mentality this year.”

The centerfielder Struve led the conference with 30 runs, and he also had a .409 batting average with 13 runs batted in.

“He made some just fantastic plays that I wish we had some film on,” Cain said. “Offensively, his speed again showed up. If he wasn’t hitting the ball in the gaps, he was beating out balls on the infield.”

Birkholz, who is turning into one of the premier catchers in the area according to his coach, hit .310 with 12 runs and 11 RBI.

“He calls a good game, blocks just about everything there is,” Cain said. “He works well with all of our pitchers and is getting that trust with our pitching staff. He hit the ball hard all year. I’d say the first 12 games he didn’t have much to show for but I told him he wasn’t changing anything, he was just going to continue to hit the ball. They’re going to find eyes.”

Steinhardt, who mostly played shortstop, was tops in the league with a .457 batting average to go with 21 runs and 19 RBI.

“Getting a ball up the middle was a forte of his,” Cain said. “Making the sure play. I think he had five or six errors, but a lot of them were not at shortstop this year because he did move around a little bit earlier in the year. He was also our No. 2 hitter and (foul) line to line, he hit the ball in the alleys. It was just a good approach at the plate. He was a hard, difficult out.”

Howards Grove was the Big East Conference runner-up (16-7 overall) and Dirker was a big reason why. The pitcher, who also played center field, was 7-2 with a 0.91 ERA to go with 81 strikeouts and 19 walks.

Tigers’ coach Mark Weber thinks his UW-Milwaukee recruit is the second player in program history to compete at a Division I school and the only one in his 23 years at the helm.

“He’s obviously one of the best pitchers that I’ve ever coached,” Weber said. “I think ‘Ike’ was the hardest thrower I’ve ever had. He pushed 90 a couple of times this year.”

Reinemann, who will play basketball at St. Norbert College, was a shortstop and catcher. The team’s leadoff hitter led his squad with a .550 average with 34 runs.

“He was phenomenal,” Weber said. “He should’ve been, in my opinion, a first-teamer. I don’t know how you put up those kinds of numbers and not be. But when we go to (the) all-state (meeting), we’re putting our numbers up against the Milwaukee-area schools and they don’t have a very high opinion of our conference.”

Koenig, who was a catcher and pitcher, batted behind Reinemann and hit .448 with 19 RBI and 19 runs.

“Like Eric, they’re both extremely gifted athletes in all sports,” Weber said. “Nic can play anywhere. … Any time you get a player that can hit for power from the left side, college coaches will recruit you pretty heavily.”


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