Fri May 11, 2012
Dominance is the first word that comes to mind in describing the top Class 2 teams this season. Dominace on the mound, dominace at the plate. A look at the dominating teams that are the favorites in Class 2.
Clever (No. 1 seed in District 11)
Current record 21-3
Key Wins: Logan-Rogersville 4-0, Purdy 3-2, Oran 4-1,
Head Coach Justin Snider inherited a team full of talented juniors, sprinkled in with a few seniors and sophomores that has been a favorite to make a championship run all season long.
The Clever team relies on the formula of great pitching and defense, something they have maintained all season long. The pitching staff has an ERA of 1.68, and one hundred-ninety strikeouts to only fifty-eight walks. Anchoring that staff is Chance Wolfe (6-0, 1.05 ERA, forty-six strikeouts, six walks, in thirty-three and a third innings), David Pennewell (5-0, 1.96 ERA, forty-six strikeouts, twelve walks, in thirty-nine and a third IP), and Jordan Burnett (4-3, 1.97 ERA, fifty strikeouts in forty-two and a third innings). Two of the three losses from Jordan came against Class 3 Springfield Catholic and Billings.
According to head coach Justin Snider, “The Clever team only has three homeruns on the year, so the ability to hit and run, bunt, and move the baseball has been a big part of our game. We are a great contact and gap to gap hitting team. Six of the nine normal starters are over .300 and three are over .400. Leading the way hitting is Chance Wolfe (.536 avg, seven doubles, two triples, one homerun, thirty-three RBI) and David Pennewell (.422, seven doubles, one triple, two home runs). We are averaging 7.2 runs per game. We have great balance up and down the lineup to go with a solid pitching staff that we hope can take us a long ways in to the playoffs.”
Clever plays an incredibly tough schedule, and with a few big wins playing up in Class 3 gives this squad the confidence to make it back to the Final Four and play in front of a home crowd.
Key Players: Chance Wolfe, David Pennewell, Ranger Curtis, Jordan Burnett
Chaffee (No. 1 seed in District 3)
Current Record: 21-3
Key Wins: Cape Central 6-2, Scott City 5-1, Twin Rivers 2-1, Risco 8-2, Bernie 7-2, Greenville 7-1
Pitching has been the key to the Chaffee Red Devils this season, surrendering only twenty-four runs all season, and yes you read that right, only twenty-four. As a staff, the pitchers have a 0.64 ERA and batters are hitting a paltry .170 against them.
Coach Brian Horrell says about his Chaffee team, “We feel we have three good pitchers and we have played tremendous defense thus far in the season. We have not allowed more than two runs in any of our games so far this season, and only have allowed twenty-four runs total in twenty-four games. We feel this needs to continue to give us a good shot. All three of our losses have been by scores of 2-1 and one was in nine innings. We feel like if we can keep getting good pitching and defense hopefully we can start getting some timely hitting.”
Cody Payne, Alex Crowe, and Alex Davie have been the three pieces that have led this ship to an incredible season, all three who could be considered aces of the staff. One the mound, Payne has a 6-1 record with three saves and sixty-six strikeouts in forty-nine and a third innings. Crowe has a perfect 6-0 record and has given up only two earned runs in thirty innings of work with a 0.47 ERA. Not to be outdone by the other two, Davie has a team leading seventy-five strikeouts in forty-six and two thirds innings and a microscopic 0.60 ERA. The dominance of these three on the mound, combined with solid defense has to make the other Class 2 teams a bit concerned about having to face them. Most teams, regardless of Class distinction have two pitchers to rely on and get them through, Chaffee has the luxury of three shut down arms, something that should play into their favor.
Offensively, surprise, surprise; Payne, Crowe, and Davie lead a line up that has five batters with twenty or more RBIs and seven batters with twenty or more hits. Payne, who should be getting player of the year considerations, leads the team with a .531 average with eight doubles, two triples, and twenty RBIs. Crowe and Davie are both batting .358 with twenty-three and twenty RBIs respectively. Other contributors to this line up include Jared Walker, Daniel Dooley and Layton Tenkenhoff
Giving up only twenty-four runs is quite a feat, but making that more impressive is that they have scored two hundred and twenty six. This is the making of a dominant team who we would not be surprised to see playing for the Class 2 championship.
Key players: Cody Payne, Alex Davie, Alex Crowe, Daniel Dooley, Layton Tenkenhoff,
Crystal City (No. 1 seed in District 4)
Current Record: 19-3
Key wins: Valle Catholic 7-5, Perryville 5-1
The phenomenon known as the Alex Winkleman show comes to town starting Saturday. Winkleman for the last two years has been dominant on the mound, even with his strikeout numbers down. This year he struck out only, yes only, eighty-seven batters (he struck out over one hundred last year). He is 6-1 on the mound with a 0.79 ERA (five earned runs in forty-four and a third innings) and walked only two batters. At the plate, Winkleman is just as much of a threat, with a .455 batting average, thirty-five runs scored and twenty-three stolen bases. As Winkleman goes, so goes the Crystal City squad.
Not to be forgotten, the other contributors on offense. Tyler McClanhan has put up solid numbers, a .521 batting average with eight doubles, two triples, and twenty-six RBIs and Devon Tolan has been an RBI machine, driving in thirty-three with thirteen doubles and a .486 batting average. Nick Pruneau has provided the power with a team leading four homeruns, he and Nick Rothweilier have each driven in twenty-three on the season.
Besides Winkleman, the other constant on the mound has been 6-foot-7 RHP Byran Degeare. Degeare posted a 7-1 record with a 1.89 ERA and struck out twenty-eight in forty-four and a third innings. The one, two punch of Winkleman and Degeare give Crystal City a very good chance of paving their way to Springfield.
Key Players: Alex Winkleman, Tyler McClanhan, Devon Tolan, Nick Rothweiler, Nick Pruneau, Bryan Degeare
Valle Catholic (No. 2 seed in District 3, behind Chaffee)
Current Record 17-4
Key Wins: Notre Dame 3-1
Valle Catholic quietly put together an impressive 17-4 season, without any fanfare, and won with a team has five senior starters who led this very young team. Alec Greminger, Tim Hermann, Tyler Litterest, Alex Rollhaus, and Lincoln Stall set the bar high for this team, and everyone rose up to the challenge
Greminger, Hermannn, and Litterest lead the Warrior offense. Greminger has speed from the lead off spot, hitting. 425 with twenty-three stolen bases and twenty-seven runs scored. Hermann provides the power from the clean up spot, leading the team with two homeruns, nine doubles and twenty-six RBIs while posting a .415 average. Litterest provides balance in the bottom half of the order, hitting. 418 with four doubles, three triples, a home run and an OBP of .571. The balance of the Valle lineup is what makes them dangerous as they open league play on Saturday.
On the mound Litterest and fellow senior Alex Rollhaus lead a staff that won’t blow anyone away, but will pitch to contact and rely on the steady and consistent defense behind them. Litterest went 5-2 on the season with s 2.56 ERA in forty-one innings pitched. Rollhaus went a perfect 7-0 with a 1.39 ERA, with his big win of the season coming in a complete game against Class 3 favorite Notre Dame.
Coach Naeger, as usual, has a disciplined team that does the small things right and gets the contributions from everyone on the team to find a way to win. Teams like Valle that don’t rely on one or two guys and get the all contributions are teams that have the ability to sneak up and make a run.