Young Crestwood baseball team strives for solid improvement
Wed, 05/30/2018 - 12:58pm admin
Nate Troy firstname.lastname@example.org
CRESCO - Anytime a team in any sport has youth and inexperience, there is a good chance that the squad might struggle at times. Going into this season, that could be the case for the 2018 Crestwood baseball team.
This year’s Cadet team will feature 18 total varsity players, including 11 underclassmen with limited varsity experience.
Upperclassmen on the team include: Jared Haskin, senior; Reece Meinecke, senior, utility player; Jon Henry, junior, catcher and pitcher; Shane Vokaty, junior, outfield; Frank Hrdlicka, junior, outfield and pitcher; Colter Bye, junior, outfield; Cade Wenthold, junior, outfield. Meinecke, Henry, Vokaty, Hrdlicka and Bye are returning letterwinners.
Underclassmen include: Matthew Slifka, sophomore, second base and catcher; Bryden Juelsgaard, sophomore, utility; Gabe Grabau, freshman, utility and pitcher; Justin Kerian, freshman, outfield and pitcher; Kade Munkel, freshman, third base and pitcher; Hunter Bye, freshman, outfield; Carter Henry, freshman, shortstop and pitcher; Landon Simiele, freshman, outfield; Ashton McConnell, freshman, infield and pitcher; Reid Wiley, freshman, shortstop and pitcher; and Brendon Dixon, freshman. Matthew Slifka is a returning letterwinner.
Crestwood Head Coach Gary Steffen said this year’s team will have its ups and downs, but he is optimistic the squad will show solid improvement.
“We will have basically a whole new team compared to last year,” Steffen noted. “Pretty much everything will be brand new this year (in terms of the roster). We’ll have a few returning letterwinners, but not that many.
“We will be a very young team that is inexperienced, but we will have some talent. My goal this year is to develop our players and be competitive. We’ll be a work in progress this year. The talent is there, but our guys need some experience and they need to grow (as players).
“I think this group of players can develop. This year, we might have our struggles against more experienced teams. Our conference will be tough again. We’ll have our hands full in terms of winning some games, but I think we’ll be good enough to be competitive. In some games, we’ll be right there (with a chance to win), and in other games, we’re going to struggle. In the long run, I think we can be a pretty good team,” Steffen said.
The coach said he will count on the upperclassmen to lead the squad.
“Reece Meinecke and Jared Haskin will be our seniors,” Steffen said. “With our younger players, we have some talent. Frank Hrdlicka pitched for us last year and won three games. Carter Henry won a varsity game last year, and we’re looking for good things from him this year. Kade Munkel played a little on the varsity last year. Gabe Grabau threw a varsity game last year.
“Matthew Slifka played second base for us last year, and he was consistent. Jon Henry was an all-conference catcher for us last year, and we’ll be looking for some leadership from him. Shane Vokaty played second base and outfield (in 2017), and he has a lot of speed on the bases. Colter Bye played a lot for us last year in the outfield. He has developed into a pretty good player, and he has a lot of strength,” Steffen said.
The coach added that several freshmen have the potential to be solid players.
“We have a lot of up-and-coming freshmen,” Steffen said. “Reid Wiley could pitch some games for us. I could see Justin Kerian doing good things for us possibly at first base.
“Our main theme this year will be trying to develop (our younger players). We want our guys to compete hard, learn the game, learn how hard our conference is, and learn how good our overall competition is. In baseball, young guys can go against older guys and be competitive.
“We will focus on fundamentals, fine-tuning the players and play the game the right way. In the long run, we will see some positive aspects, such as growth. By the end of the year, I think we’ll be right there (playing competitively) against teams in our conference. I see a lot of potential with this team,” Steffen said.