Wide-eyed & wide-awake at state
Wausaukee will battle Greenwood in state semi
Monday, June 10, 2013 7:00 PM
WAUSAUKEE - While other teen-agers will still be sound asleep, the Wausaukee Rangers will bring their early-morning work ethic to state Wednesday.
Division 4 baseball state pairings
Wausaukee vs. Greenwood, 8 a.m.
Potosi vs. Lake Country Lutheran to follow
Wednesday winners, 9 a.m.
Wausaukee will open WIAA Division 4 state tournament play Wednesday at 8 a.m. against Greenwood.
To help get the Rangers ready for their earliest game of the season, coach Paul Moser suggested practices from 8 to 10 a.m. this week. Instead, the players opted for 6 to 8 a.m. practices to avoid work conflicts.
These Rangers are definitely ready for an early-morning wakeup call and the opportunity to play at Fox Cities Stadium.
"We hit pretty well in the morning actually," Moser said.
The pitchers did some early-morning throwing in the gym before school this spring.
Greenwood (14-3) returns five starters from the team which lost a state semifinal 8-5 last season. Westin Wuethrich and James Hlavac form an impressive starting pitching rotation. Wuethrich is 5-2 with a 1.05 earned run average, and he leads the team with a .468 batting average. Hlavac is 3-0 with a. 0.95 ER, and he's batting .400.
Tyler Johnson (.419) leads the team with 19 RBIs. The other returning starters are Alexander Volovsek (.262) and Dillon Serocki (.241).
"They have a good pitching staff," Moser said. "It's not just one guy, I haven't really talked to my team too much about the other team. I just want them to focus on what they have to do correctly. Good approaches at the plate, throwing strikes. Do what you have to do and hopefully it takes care of itself."
Greenwood allows just under two runs per game.
Wausaukee (15-6) has been flawless in its postseason run. Beau DeLaet and Aaron Schlies have each thrown two postseason shutouts. DeLaet, a junior, will get the start on the mound against Greenwood.
DeLaet (.492) leads Wausaukee's starters in hitting and has team highs in doubles (10) and RBIs (32). Freshman Russell Smith is hitting .482 and senior Cole Lewandowski is batting .419. Schlies, a sophomore, is batting .414 with 23 RBIs.
"I think these kids are just ready to go," Moser said.
Wausaukee will head to Fox Cities Stadium today to watch some of the Division 1 state tourney games.
"So the first time they see it they're not playing," the coach said.
In the other Division 4 state semifinal, Potosi (18-7) and Lake Country Lutheran (23-4) will meet following the Wausaukee game. The winners will play Thursday at 9 p.m. in the state title game.
Wausaukee is making is second state tourney appearance and first since 1999.
"It's great for the kids and it's great for the program," said retired longtime Wausaukee baseball coach Jerry Heroux.
Gene Pieper coached the Wausaukee baseball team for one season, then Jerry Heroux took over the program and coached the Rangers for 16 seasons. He retired after guiding the team to state in 1999.
Bill Wickman coached a lot of good Ranger teams from 2000-2012 before handing the reins over to Moser.
"You've got to give a lot of credit to Bill Wickman," Heroux said. "He did a great job there."
Wausaukee's 1999 team lost its state semi 13-7 to Waterloo. Travis Orlando, a left fielder/pitcher on the '99 team, is the brother of sophomore Zach Orlando, Wausaukee's shortstop.
Jeremy McAlpine was Wausaukee's ace that season. Matt Polomis was an outstanding player and Kyle Watson was a speed demon. Jason Figas slugged a two-run homer at state, and senior Corey Gordon hit a two-run double.
Heroux is impressed with this year's Rangers, and suggested that they play the same way they have all season.
"They don't beat themselves and they don't make many errors," he said.
Moser says the Rangers are a pretty loose team. That bodes well for their first state tourney experience, one that Heroux and his '99 team won't forget.
"It just seemed like once the game started it went so fast," Heroux said. "Just savor the moment."