Cavaliers load up on local talent
May 26, 2012
The Eau Claire Cavaliers' local flavor has been enhanced this season.
The Eau Claire Cavaliers’ local flavor has been enhanced this season.
Five members of North’s 2011 state championship team have jumped aboard to up the number of local products to 12 on the city’s long-standing and prestigious amateur baseball team.
The Huskies are utilityman Mitch DeGrasse, infielder Tyler Hermann, outfielder Seth Hurt, pitcher Jacob Jenneman and catcher Dean Eisold.
They join 10 other newcomers — including pitcher Justin Jaquish and outfielder Brett Vavra of Chippewa Falls — on manager Mark McHorney’s roster for his fifth season and the 42nd for the team.
The 58-game schedule opens Saturday with a doubleheader at Chaseburg/Coon Valley. The home opener is set for Sunday with two games against the Sparta Millers at 1 p.m. at Carson Park. The Cavs round out the holiday weekend with a single game against the Eau Claire Bears at 1 p.m. Monday.
Using local talent has been a source of pride for McHorney, who has fashioned a winning 147-69 record in his four previous years at the helm. And all the first-year players figure heavily in team plans.
“Overall we have talent and we expect a good season,” said McHorney. “But I haven’t seen most of the new guys so we won’t know a lot until they all get here.”
What he does know is that he returns infielder/outfielder Nolan Fadness, who batted .404 last year and was voted the Wisconsin State League MVP.
“He’s one of our leaders along with guys like Matt Miller and Brady Sand,” McHorney said. “They should be great examples for our sprinkling of new blood including the North players.”
Miller, a multi-year veteran infielder, batted .302 last year while the versatile Sand hit .273 and posted a 6-0 mound record with a 2.00 earned run average in 67 innings, most on the staff.
Returnees joining Sand on the pitching staff are veteran Troy Peiffer (2-0, 2.38 ERA last year); R.J. Page (3-1, 2.70) and John Ewald, Davis Lenzen and Masahisa Morita, one of two Japanese players on the roster. Lost to elbow surgery is Andy Davis.
Lefty Jake Peterson (6-2, 2.42 and a team-leading 71 strikeouts in 63 innings) faces the possibility of more knee surgery and will not return to the team this summer.
Sand, who plays just about any position, will spend a lot of time behind the plate with Jake McIlquham, Eisold and Brian Burman also seeing duty. Also, first-year Japanese product Hiroshi Senda, could see action behind the plate as a utility player.
McHorney is still fitting the pieces together on the infield, but has Miller at second or short, Fadness at short, Sand at third or wherever needed, Nick Degan, John Ewald, Josh Alme, Hermann at short or third, Jenneman at first along with others and Greg Rhude, who played at Sheboygan last year.
Outfielders are Fadness, Kasey Lewandowski, Brett Vavra, Hurt, DeGrasse, Austin Lenzen and Senda.
McHorney will use all the players but will settle on something of a starting unit when all the players report.
“Our goal? Of course we want to finish first, but we certainly hope to be in contention.” McHorney said. “The league will be tough again with Lombard the team to beat.”
The Cavs tied for the league title in McHorney’s first year and have finished second the past three seasons. They play Lombard at home along with Sheboygan and Manitowoc and go to Addison, Kenosha and Oshkosh.
Pete Dake and Steve Page will act as coaches with the retirement of John Nicolai. Club president is Randy Millis, who is reported to be in his last year in that position.
Eau Claire Cavaliers
Josh Alme, p/1b, Baldwin (Upper Iowa); Brian Burman, c, Aitkin, Minn., (UM-Duluth); Mitch DeGrasse, util, North (Century Jr. College, Minn.); Tyler Hermann, if, North (Iowa Lakes Community); Seth Hurt, of, North (St. Cloud State); Justin Jaquish, p/of, Chippewa Falls (UW-Milwaukee); Jacob Jenneman, p/1b, North (Century Junior); Austin Lenzen, of/p/c, Hudson (UW-Whitewater); Kasey Lewandowski, of, Milwaukee (Cardinal Stritch); Marcus Perleberg, p, Oconomowoc (Cardinal Stritch); Tony Schultz, c, West Salem (Northwestern College); Hiroshi Senda, c, Japan (Kobe Gaukin U.); Brett Vavra, of, Chippewa Falls (UW-Stout); Greg Rhude, if, Plymouth (Madison College).
Nick Degan, 3b/of, Memorial (Iowa Central); Dean Eisold, c, North (UW-La Crosse); John Ewald, if/p, Maplewood, Minn. (UW-Stout); Nolan Fadness, if/of, Memorial (UW-Oshkosh); Davis Lenzen, p, Hudson (UW-Platteville); Jake McIlquham, c/1b, Chippewa Falls (UM-Duluth); Matt Miller, if, Memorial (Western Oklahoma); Masahisa Morita, p, Japan (Toin-Yokohama U.); Ryan Page, p, North (Dubuque); Troy Peiffer, p, Memorial (UW-Superior); Jake Peterson, p, Memorial (Madison College); Brady Sand, p/util, Memorial (St. Olaf’s).
Story by: Eau Claire Ledger Telegram
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