St. Croix Central baseball team can't pull off second WIAA tournament upsetThe upset pulled off by the St. Croix Central baseball team in the opening round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs alerted the Panthers’ second round opponent that Central had to be taken seriously.
The upset pulled off by the St. Croix Central baseball team in the opening round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs alerted the Panthers’ second round opponent that Central had to be taken seriously.
The Panthers weren’t able to achieve a second upset. State-ranked Altoona played like a team that was on high alert, beating Central 10-0 in six innings.
The Central baseball team finishes the season with a 7-16 record.
In the opening round of Division 2 action the Panthers had upset third-seeded Bloomer 5-4. Altoona, which had a 19-6 record following Thursday’s win, used an outstanding pitching effort from Forrest Mazzie to quiet the Panthers. Mazzie threw a no-hitter in the game. The only Panther to reach base in the game was Mitch Katner, who walked.
Central kept the game close early behind stoic pitching from senior Mike Nelson. Defense, which has been the Panthers’ biggest weakness this season, again flared up in this game.
“We had eight errors which really hurt us, especially in the later innings,” said Central coach Jason Koele. “Altoona did a nice job controlling the tempo of the game and not making any errors in the game. Errors were the difference maker.”
Koele said the goal for next season is to improve the team’s fundamentals, especially defense. The Panthers began that process on Saturday, May 26, by holding a youth clinic for all levels of Panther baseball. The varsity players and coaches put on the clinic to try to bring a unified approach to how the fundamentals are taught throughout the baseball ranks.
“We are trying to unify the entire baseball program in the entire district and work together in trying to build a strong foundation and support for the program as a whole,” Koele said. “Coaches of a lot of the rec programs came out to discuss drill work and the future of SCC baseball.”
Koele is looking to build next year’s team around returning starters Tyler Lathe, Kyle Tallman and Anthony Phillips. Also in the plans are time DJ Holland, Logan Nelson, Tanner DeGross, Mitch Ditlefsen, Alec Lamberty, Joe Pace and Brady Henry.
“We will look to return stronger and more fundamentally and mentally stronger, getting in the mix for a conference title,” Koele said.
Lathe will be viewed as the team leader. He was the only Panther to receive All-Dunn-St. Croix Conference honors this season, being named to the all-conference first team.