Big 8 Conference
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
Well the sun is shinning, the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming, so it must be time to hear that all familiar call, “Play Ball!”
Wait, none of that is happening...
It’s mid March and only a handful of days away from April and we STILL have snow on the ground?
Wow, you have to love Wisconsin, ay?
Theoretically, the spring baseball season has already started but thanks to good ol’ Mother nature, it actually hasn’t.
There has already been numerous cancellations and postponements so far this season for Big 8 teams looking to take the field which begs the question, are we ever going to see temperatures above freezing so this freaking snow can melt?
Well, while I do not have the answer because it appears Mother nature gave up spring for lent, I do have this season’s preview of Big 8 baseball... If it ever starts...
Recap of Last Season:
With a perfect conference record of 18-0 and an overall record of 30-1, the Sun Prairie Cardinals dominated the Big 8 on the team’s way to State Title in 2012. The Cardinals averaged nearly 8 runs per game last season and tore through the regular season before flying through the WIAA State Playoffs to capture the State Championship. Sun Prairie was led by senior leader Nate Hoffman, who was named the Big 8 Conference MVP and was one of three Cardinals to make the All-State team as well. Hoffman finished the year with an 11-0 mark on the mound and a 0.88 earned run average to close out the season. He was joined by teammates Jonah Lund (Sr. OF) and Tony Butler (Jr. IF) on the All-State team. Butler, an incredibly gifted ball player, will return for his senior campaign after hitting .512 last season and earning the win in the State Championship game against Bay Port last year.
Janesville Craig finished second in the conference with a 14-4 (20-7) record followed by Middleton with a 12-6 (20-8) record on the season.
Sun Prairie was tied with Madison La Follette with the number of athletes selected to the All-Conference teams last year. Sun Prairie finished with seven players being selected to the All-Conference 1st team, with three of those players returning in Carter Brekke (IF), Zach Fairchild (C) and Butler.
Madison La Follette lost the team’s only 1st team representative in AJ Verhage (P) but does return three players from the All-Conference Honorable Mention team highlighted by sophomore standout Riley Anderson who will return for his junior season this year.
Other notable All-Conference 1st Team returners include Ryan Hinze (OF) from Madison East, Alex Brown (OF) from Madison West, Brandon Hughes (DH) out of Janesville Craig and Brandon Luebke (IF) also from Janesville Craig.
Preview of This Season:
Sun Prairie Cardinals: Returns three of the eight All-Conference players from a year ago. Brekke, Butler and Fairchild will look to once again bring home the conference crown as well as defend the teams State Title from a year ago.
Janesville Craig Cougars: Returns three of the six All-Conference players from last year. Hughes is the only 1st team player returning and is joined by sensational freshman Nick Blomgren (IF) who will look to continue his successful young career as a sophomore this season and Colin Frey (P) who is a senior this season.
Middleton Cardinals: Returns three of six All-Conference players as well in Brian Lochner (IF) Tanner Meinholz (DH) who will both be seniors and Luke Schafer (IF) who will be a junior this season.
Madison La Follette Lancers: Returns three of eight All-Conference players in Anderson, Fernando Espinosa (IF) and Nate Teuscher (OF) all of whom were named to the Honorable Mention team last season.
Madison Memorial Spartans: Returns five of six All-Conference players in 2nd Team player Jared Eichorst (Utility) and Honorable Mention players in Joe Ferguson (OF) Max Genin (IF) Casey Jordan (IF) and Lance Kahl (C). All seniors this season.
Madison West Regents: Returns four of five All Conference players in 1st Team player Alex Brown (OF) and Honorable Mention players John James (IF) Kai Westring (IF) who will be seniors and Joe Trier (P) who will be a junior this season.
Madison East Purgolders: Returns five of the teams six All-Conference players from last year in 1st Team player Ryen Hinze (OF) 2nd team player Mike Mack (C) and Honorable Mentions Aiden Baggot (IF) AJ Barlow (OF) Tony Clufo (OF) and Daniel Karlin-Kamin (Utility). All will be seniors.
Verona Wildcats: Returns just one of three All-Conference players in Trevor Kermicle (P) who earned Honorable Mention last season as a junior.
Janesville Parker Vikings: Returns one of three All-Conference players as well in Tyler Brooks (OF) who was an Honorable Mention player as a junior last season.
Beloit Memorial Purple Knights: Returns three of four All-Conference players in 2nd team player Patrick Whalen (DH) and Honorable Mention players in Trey Caple (Utility) and Jayson Pemberton (IF). All will be seniors this season.
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
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