Cavaliers roster full of fresh faces

May 24, 2013

A good number of new names will dot the lineup for the Eau Claire Cavaliers.

Wisconsin State League

A good number of new names will dot the lineup for the Eau Claire Cavaliers.

The city’s oldest continuous non-school sports program plunges into its 43rd season this weekend with a solid group of young players.

“Recruiting was tougher this year with a little more turnover from last season,” said manager Mark McHorney, heading into his sixth season with a 181-94 won-lost record.

“I’m pleased with the new group coming in, they should do a good job filling in for our lost players.”

The Cavaliers, 30-21 last season with a 12-10 mark in the Wisconsin State League, open play at home Saturday against Chaseburg/Coon Valley with a 1 p.m. doubleheader and then play two games with Sparta at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The list of first-year players is a long one and includes six from the Eau Claire metro area. They are Brady Burzynski and Matt Flesher from Memorial, Tyler Duex and Mitch LaVelle from Chippewa Falls and Justin Jinkins and Taylor Rathke of Altoona.

Others are Cory Bonner and JT Yocum of Lewis University; Ladarrius Cole of West Alabama; Kyle Comer, Minnesota-Duluth; Cody Booker, Upper Iowa and Eric Carlson, St. Olaf.

Two of the three Japanese listed are also new. They are Yuki Nishimoto and Yuji Nakajima and they join returnee Hiroshi Senda, who batted .302 last year.

The leading returnee is catcher Brian Burman, last year’s MVP after hitting .307 with 25 extra-base hits, including 10 homers, and 66 runs batted in.

Also back at least on a part-time basis is Ben Kincaid, the local product who had a great college career at Minnesota-Mankato. He led the team in batting with a .398 average in 30 games. Brett Vavra hit .310 in 45 games. Another veteran is Tyler Hermann, the prep player of the year in 2011 from North.

Major losses include Nolan Fadness, who hit .382 and led the club with 58 runs and 26 extra-base hits; long-time infielder Matt Miller and Brady Sand, a veteran utility man.

“From what I know, I like the athleticism,” McHorney said about his new edition. “We have bats from both sides of the plate and we have enough maturity to give us some stability.

“And it’s wooden bat baseball and many of them have to make the adjustment.”

Returning pitchers are Jake Jenneman and Andy Davis to lead the way although Kincaid, last year’s leading pitcher award winner, Davis Lenzen and Brent Mueller from UW-Stout are expected to help when they are available,

Other hurlers are Nakajima, Flesher, Bonner, Nishimoto and Jinkins, who played this spring at Century College of the Twin Cities along with Rathke.

Two mound casualties were Mitch DeGrasse, who underwent Tommy John surgery after a strong spring, and Troy Pieffer, who suffered an arm injury last season. He remains as a contributor to the team.

Rathke is expected to back up Burman behind the plate along with Booker.

“Burman is older and mature and a leader by his actions,” McHorney said.

Among infielders McHorney will try to plug into the right holes are Nick Degen, Tanner Vavra, Carlson, Comer, Duex, LaVelle and Hermann.

Outfield candidates are Senda, Burzynski, Nishimoto, Brett Vavra, Cole and Davis.

McHorney, who works with coaches Steve and RJ Page and Pete Dake, is looking for his team to improve on its league play.

“We’ve been up there, but we were a little disappointed last year,” McHorney said. “It’s a tough, competitive league. Lombard is always the team to beat.”

Lombard is the defending champion and other members are Addison, Ill., Sheboygan, Kenosha and Oshkosh.

Overall, the Cavaliers face a 50-plus game schedule with all but 10 of their dates set for Carson Park. The club is under the new leadership of president Mark Eisold and vice president Dave DeGrasse.

Eau Claire Cavaliers Roster

Brian Burman, c, Minnesota-Duluth; Troy Pieffer, p, Eau Claire Memorial; Jacob Jenneman, p, Eau Claire North; Nick Degen, if, St. Thomas; Hiroshi Senda, util; Japan; Tanner Vavra, util, Valparaiso; Yuji Nakajima, p, Japan; Matt Flesher, p, UW-Stout; Davis Lenzen, p, UW-Platteville; Brady Burzynski, of, UW-Stout; Cory Bonner, p, Lewis; Yuki Nishimoto, of/p, Japan; JT Yocum, util, Lewis; Ladarrius Cole, of, West Alabama; Andy Davis, p, St. Scholastica; Tyler Hermann, if, Indian Hills CC; Brett Vavra, of, UW-Stout; Tyler Duex, if, UW-Superior; Kyle Comer, if, Minnesota-Duluth; Ben Kincaid, p, Mankato State; Mitch LaVelle, ss, UW-Stout; Cody Booker, c, Upper Iowa; Eric Carlson, 1b, Minnesota; Justin Jinkins, p, Century College; R.J. Page, p/coach, Eau Claire; Brent Mueller, p, UW-Stout; Taylor Rathke, c, Century College.


May 25, Chaseburg/Coon Valley (dh), 1 p.m.; 26, Sparta (dh), 1 p.m.; 30, Harv Tomter Memorial Tournament, 7:30 p.m.; 31, tournament (dh), 5 p.m.

June 1, Tomter Memorial Tournament (dh), noon; 2, tournament (dh), 9 a.m.; 5, Red Wing, 7:30 p.m.; 8, at Lombard, Ill., (dh), 5 p.m.; 9, at Lombard (dh), noon; 12, at Marshfield, 7:30 p.m.; 15, Spooner (dh), 11 a.m.; 18, Chippewa Falls, 7:30 p.m.; 19, Spooner, 7:30 p.m.; 22, at Sheboygan (dh), 5 p.m.; 23, at Sheboygan (dh), 1 p.m.; 25, at Sparta, 7:30 p.m.; 28, St. Paul Capitols, 7:30 p.m.; 29, Addison, Ill., (dh), 5 p.m.; 30, Addison (dh), 1 p.m.

July 6, Duluth Express at Spooner (dh), 1 p.m.; 9, Westmont, Ill, 7:30 p.m.; 10, Westmont (dh), 5 p.m.; 11, Westmont, 6 p.m.; 20, Kenosha (dh), 5 p.m.; 21, Kenosha (2), noon; 24, Menomonie, 7:30 p.m.; 27, at Chaseburg/Coon Valley (2), 1 p.m.; 28, at Duluth Express (dh), 1 p.m.

August 3, Oshkosh (dh), 5 p.m.; 4, Oshkosh (dh) 11 a.m.; 6, Eau Claire Bears, 7:30 p.m.; 8, Spooner, 7:30 p.m.

Story By: Ron Buckli of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram

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