June 11, 2007

Many new faces on New Germany Dutchmen roster

By Jenni Sebora

The New Germany Dutchmen baseball team has a new “look” this year – but it’s not in the form of uniforms.

Many new faces this year are clad in orange and black playing as New Germany Dutchmen baseball players.

With many of the veteran Dutchmen retiring or playing with other teams, a core group of veteran Dutchmen players do remain.

“The nucleus (of the team) is still here from last year,” co-manager and player Adam Lehrke said.

Although young himself, Lehrke is part of that group along with co-manager and outfielder M.J. Iverson, and infielder Brad Noerenberg.

Although the long-time Dutchmen brothers Ron Wischnack retired and Tony Wischnack moved over to play with Plato, Tim Wischnack remains with the Dutchmen.

Peter Kroells, Gregg Wassink, Jeremy Petchl, Jason Latzke and Mychal Penaz also played with the Dutchmen at least last year.

Lehrke said these veteran players not only provide experience on the ballfield but are teachers of the game to the younger players who make up the rest of the Dutchmen roster.

The team fields many young players. They hail from a number of neighboring communities, including Watertown, Chaska and Lester Prairie.

Four high school baseball players from Watertown made their way to New Germany to join the Dutchmen roster.

“They knew we needed players and knew they’d have a better chance playing with us,” Lehrke said.

The Dutchmen have attracted players from Chaska also. Four of the new players hail from the city joining Petchl who is also from Chaska.

Although not high schoolers, but young players, three Lester Prairie graduates, Jon Gueningsman, Nick Selchow and Latzke also wear the Dutchmen orange and black.

Lehrke calls Latzke a “solid player with power.” Selchow will do much of the catching duties and Gueningsman will help out on the mound with pitching as well as with other duties, Lehrke noted.

Helping Gueningsman with pitching will be a variety of players, including Lehrke, who has done some pitching for the Dutchmen for the last few years.

“We’ll try different people,” Lehrke said of the pitching position.

“We don’t have a horse like most of the Crow River Valley League teams, but someone may develop,” Lehrke said.

In fact, most of the team members may see play at different positions throughout the season. Lehrke sees this as a positive aspect of being a young team.

“Being so young, players can play a lot of positions,” Lehrke said.

But with a nucleus of veteran players, there will be some experience leading the way.

Iverson will help cover the outfield as a veteran outfielder, and Noerenberg is a solid hitter and second baseman, “who gets outs that need to be made,” Lehrke said. Wischnack is an experienced infielder and catcher.

Lehrke said that although in the past New Germany has been known for powerful hitting and pitching, this year’s team boasts youth and speed that will continue to develop its skills.

“We are built for speed and not power,” Lehrke said, adding that this aspect will involve more strategy in hitting and base running.

Lehrke also looks to the future. “If we stay together – core group of guys- in a couple of years we can have a pretty good team,” Lehrke said.

“It’s just a building process,” Lehrke added.

And Lehrke said being one of the youngest teams in the CRVL, he personally has no expectations for the team but to play fundamental ball.

“It’s baseball. On any given Sunday, anybody can beat anybody,” Lehrke said.

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