NUIC Baseball and Softball Preview For 2017 Season
By Al Zipsie
With the exception of Amboy making its debut, it's the same cast of characters in the running for NUIC baseball and softball titles. With the new season underway, here is our look at the top contenders.
Freeport Aquin coach Todd Kramer hopes success carries over to baseball from other sports. With some of the same players who led Aquin to a football state quarterfinal and a basketball Sectional final, the baseball team will be looking for some state hardware.
Last year, Aquin won their first ever baseball Sectional title. They return six starters Tim Harriington, Zac Cummings, Jonah Diemer, Bryce Carlson, Cole Luedeking and Jackson Holder. Aquin got off to a good start beating Dakota in a pair of games in the first week.
Warren/Stockton: Under veteran coach Jim Nielson, the WarHawks look for a sixth straight NUIC West title and seek another regional title.
Returning is senior Hayden Fox who was the league MVP. Fox hit a lofty .485 and had a school record 47 hits. Fox, as a pitcher, had a 10-1 record with a stingy 1.38 ERA.
Eastland: Finished second behind Warren/Stockton, and won a Regional. They return three key players in Brighton Haverland (third base/pitcher), who was all conference first team, and second team picks Payton Clouse and Reid Janssen.
Forreston: They will defend their NUIC East title, but they will have to do it without Polo as they end that co-op after six years. The Cardinals return three solid pitchers in Brandon Schniderman, Caleb Poffenberger and Michal Singley.
Dakota: They made it all the way to the Sectional title last year falling to Aquin. They could compete in the East with the pitching duo of Cade Meier and Hunter Knox who were among the area leaders in strikeouts.
Orangeville: They hope to defend their NUIC East title and have a regional title on their mind. Last year, they had a school record 32 wins but were upset by Lena-Winslow in the Regional final.
Orangeville boasts one of the best players in the area in Kelsey Bollen and a strong supporting cast. She is coming off a year where she hit .471, 14 homers, 68 RBIs and scored 62 runs. Bollen started this season where she left off last season, with a home run in the first inning of the first game, a 13-3 win over Milledgeville.
Lena-Winslow: Ace pitcher Bailey Baldauf returns. She shutdown Orangeville in the regional upset last season.
Pearl City: They are looking for a sixth straight West title. They are coming off a school record 28 wins and won their first Sectional title.They are led by third team all state pitcher/infielder Kendra Melville.
Dakota: Hopes to compete in the East and win another regional title. They are led by a trio of returning all conference players in Mary Sue and Emma Kinney and Elaine Zimmerman.
Amboy: They could make a big splash in their first season in the NUIC East. They have won six straight regional titles and the Sectional last year. Standout pitcher Karlee Doege led Amboy to State as a freshman.