A mountain to climb
A difficult early schedule and some nasty injuries have the Tigers looking to rebound from a tough start
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — During the first two weeks of the season, the Marshfield baseball team has been battle-tested and battle-worn.
The Tigers took on a tough nonconference schedule early, losing 2-1 at Appleton West in their opener and sweeping Eau Claire Memorial and Eau Claire North in a pair of games that could go a long way towards a better seed come playoff time as both opponents are in Marshfield’s sectional.
Marshfield (2-3 heading into Thursday’s game at Rhinelander) has gotten off to a slow start in the Wisconsin Valley Conference, losing twice to Wausau West, the last defeat coming on April 16, 5-4 in 11 innings.
Then last Saturday the Tigers lost starting left fielder Braden Bohman and shortstop Trevor Schwecke to injuries after they had a horrific collision going for a fly ball during the opening game of a doubleheader against Chippewa Falls.
Both players were taken to the hospital, and the games were postponed. Bohman, one of two sophomore starters in the Marshfield lineup, could be back in the next few weeks. Schwecke, the team’s leadoff hitter and also a relief pitcher, may be out for quite a while, according to Marshfield coach Mark Zee.
Zee said the team’s depth will be tested to fill in those two spots in the lineup, but he has confidence in the overall talent of this year’s squad.
“We are a relatively deep team and have a lot of guys that can play,” Zee said. “Losing Trevor, who is as solid of a shortstop as there is around here, is tough, but we have other kids working hard too, and they will have to step up.”
Third baseman Tyson Slade will shift to shortstop with Jack Donahue playing third when he is not pitching. When Donahue, the team’s No. 1 starter, is on the mound, senior Sam Klein will shift from first base to third.
Donahue, a senior, is 0-2 as starter, allowing seven runs in three starts, and will continue as the work horse for the Tigers.
Senior Mason Tysver, sophomore left-hander Jake Brueggen, and junior Scott Berg will serve as the other starters for Marshfield.
“Jack’s pitched a lot of innings so far already with our schedule being what it was,” Zee said. “We have good depth on our staff, and we just have to play more to get some starts for these guys.”
Marshfield hosts Tomah on April 24 and will play three more games over the following six days, including a pair against Wisconsin Valley Conference-favorite Stevens Point. The Tigers play at home on Tuesday with another game at Point on Thursday.
The Tigers are searching for more consistency on offense as they totaled just six hits in their first two games, scored 17 runs in the two wins over the Eau Claire schools, and then left 19 runners on base in the 11-inning loss at West.
Senior Caleb Alexander, a second-team all-WVC choice last year in center field, along with Donahue, senior Cameron Swanson, and Sam Klein man the middle of the order, giving the Tigers an experienced group as they hit the meat of their schedule.
The offense has been hot and cold, but Marshfield’s defense has been superb.
“We have been playing really good competition and are still trying to replace a lot of our offense that we lost from (the graduation of) Daulton Varsho,” Zee said. “We are playing really good defense, and our pitching has been solid. We are just having problems scoring runs.
“We are working hard in the batting cage. We are trying to get that big hit when we need it and get some momentum for our team.”
Wisconsin Valley Conference Baseball Standings
Prior to games on April 23
(Conference record followed by overall record)
- Stevens Point (2-0, 3-2)
- Wausau West (2-1, 3-1)
- D.C. Everest (1-1, 1-2)
- Wisconsin Rapids (1-1, 5-2)
- Merrill (0-0, 3-3)
- Wausau East (1-2, 2-4)
- Marshfield (0-2, 2-3)