HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
April 16, 2007

Baseball this, and baseball that

By Aaron Schultz

While the past few weeks had it feeling more like ice fishing season than baseball season, the end of the week brought some more spring like weather.

With that, I couldn’t help but get an itch to write a little something-something about the upcoming Crow River Valley League baseball year.

But first, to all of you Howard Lake Orphan and North Star League fans, I haven’t forgotten about you, and will get to that in the next few weeks.

While I haven’t seen an official Orphans’ schedule for 2007, according to the North Star League web site, their first game is Sunday, May 6 at Hutchinson.

In contrast, the Winsted Wildcats open up the year this Saturday at Stark.

So, with no time to spare, I’ll jump into some predictions, news and notes, along with some other items that have gotten my attention in the CRVL.

To start with, I’ll give everybody my quick assessment of how the Wildcats will fair this season.

I expect, and believe that when the Region 7C Tournament comes around at the beginning of August, the Wildcats will be there.

Of course, with the tournament taking place in Winsted, we will be there either way, but I honestly believe that the Wildcats will be playing in the tourney.

With that said, I see the Wildcats possibly getting off to a little bit of a slow start, just because we haven’t exactly had many practices, so far.

But, once Winsted gets rolling, they will be as strong as last year, if not stronger.

The one big question the Wildcats will have to answer going into the 2007 season is who will be doing the catching.

Long-time Wildcat catcher Ryan (Barto) Bartosiewski has retired.

In his place will be myself, Neil Schlagel, and Winsted newcomer TJ Aalid, who has come over from New Germany.

As the year goes by, and the high school seasons come to an end, look for Matt Wroge and Joe Kley to both see some time behind the plate for the Wildcats.

As for some of the other CRVL teams, the New Germany Dutchmen took the biggest hit this season, and will have a much different look in 2007 than they have had for over a decade.

Among the core of the Dutchmen, most have either retired or went elsewhere.

Mike Schrupp and Tim Wischnack have both retired, while Tony Wischnack and Dave Donahue have moved on over to Plato.

Yep, with the Dutchmen will have a distinctive Lester Prairie flavor this year with recent graduates Jason Latzke, Mychal Penaz, Nick Selchow, and Jon Gueingsman all reported to be on the team in 2007.

This brings us to Plato, who, besides New Germany, has had the biggest roster shake-up of the new season.

The likes of Jon Becker, Eric Engelmann, and Brian Graupmann remain for the Bluejays, but, according to their most current roster, Dave Franke, Matt Roberts, and Dean Schwirtz have all hung up their cleats.

They have added Tony Wischnack and Dave Donahue, along with former Hamburg shortstop Ben Smothers.

Moving over just a few miles to the west, the Glencoe Brewers look to have a very similar roster to the one that won the regular season North Division title in 2006.

The only loss that the Brewers might have is Chris Odegaard, who is trying out for a wood bat league team.

Should Odegaard make the team, he would miss much, if not all, of the season.

However, should Odegaard not make that wood bat team, then expect him to be a big part of the Brewers squad in 2007.

Yep, just a quick look at the upcoming 2007 CRVL season.

Next week look for all the schedules of the local teams, at least the one’s that are available, as well as a quick preview of the upcoming season.

And don’t worry Orphan fans, I’ll be getting back to you before their season gets going.