Looking to get back on top: Bay Port baseball preview
The Bay Port baseball team will have to replace first-team all-conference infielder Jordan Nolle this season, who was lost due to graduation (Rich Palzewic file photo).
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – There are some unknowns with the Bay Port baseball team this season, but expectations will always remain high for the Pirates.
Returning from a spring training trip to Florida where they played four games and took 25 players during the school’s spring break, Bay Port will look to get back on top of the Fox River Classic Conference after finishing third last year behind Green Bay Preble and De Pere.
“Our goal every season is to give ourselves a chance late in the year to be conference champs,” said head coach Mike Simoens, whose team finished 17-12 overall in 2017 and 11-7 in the FRCC. “We probably have four or five positions pretty well set, but the other ones are still to be decided. The trip to Florida gave us a chance to get out outside when we couldn’t here.”
The Pirates have won six of the last eight FRCC championships, but have had to deal with Preble for the last few seasons, who Simoens said will once again be a big challenge in 2018.
Bay Port has advanced to sectionals an amazing 15 straight times. This season’s D1 sectional will be hosted by the Pirates, so assuming they makes it that far, Bay Port would be playing on its home diamond for a chance to return to state for the first time since 2015.
The Pirates lost a 5-4 game to De Pere in the sectional semis to end their season last year. In the regional finals, the now-graduated Jake Weber gave Bay Port one of its most memorable games in history in a 13-12 victory over Wausau West. He had a double, triple and two homers. The first-team all-conference outfielder finished with 7 RBI and 13 total bases in that game alone.
As for this year, Simoens said he prefers to worry about his own team and not focus on the other conference rivals.
“I really don’t look at the competition too much,” said Simoens, who has been the varsity coach since 1994 and has a 413-173 career record. “Besides Preble again, De Pere has some good young pitchers. I think Manitowoc will be improved as well, but they might be a year away.”
Simoens added that his team’s defense should be solid as always, but hitting will be a question mark. The pitching will also be a little inexperienced, but the Pirates have some young, good arms coming up through the ranks – they just lack a lot of varsity pitching from the mound.
Stephen Gnagi, Bobby Tilot, Jake Hebert, Josh Shackelford and Call Verlanic were five names that Simoens mentioned to be in the mix for the starting rotation.
In addition to Weber, Bay Port lost all-conference players Jordan Nolle (first team, infield), Brett Frieder (second team, pitcher) and Quinn Pierner (honorable mention, infield).
The Pirates will host Merrill on Tuesday, April 3, in a non-conference game to begin the season.
2018 Bay Port Baseball Schedule
4/3 – Merrill – 4:30
4/5 – Ashwaubenon – 4:30
4/10 – @ De Pere – 4:30
4/12 – Sheboygan South – 4:30
4/13 – @ Pulaski – 4:30
4/16 – @ Manitowoc Lincoln – 4:30
4/19 – Green Bay Southwest – 4:30
4/20 – @ Green Bay Preble – 4:30
4/23 – Kaukauna – 4:30
4/24 – Green Bay Notre Dame – 4:30
4/26 – @ Sheboygan North – 4:30
4/28 – @ Middleton – 12:00
5/1 – @ Ashwaubenon – 4:30
5/3 – De Pere – 4:30
5/4 – @ Sheboygan South – 4:30
5/7 – Pulaski – 4:30
5/10 – Manitowoc Lincoln – 4:30
5/11 – @ Seymour – 4:30
5/15 – Preble – 4:30
5/17 – @ Notre Dame – 4:30
5/18 – Sheboygan North – 4:30
5/22 – @ Southwest – 4:30
5/29 – WIAA Regionals – TBA
5/31 – WIAA Regionals – TBA
6/5 – WIAA Sectionals – 10:00 (Bay Port will host)
6/12 – @ WIAA State – TBA
6/14 – @ WIAA State – TBA