Langreder’s homer leads North to victory
By Greg Bates
To West De Pere baseball fans, Connor Langreder has always been known as a solid pitcher.
That’s certainly why he will be playing Division I baseball in the fall.
But, it was Langreder’s bat that made him stand out for the North squad at the annual Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Classic last weekend.
After being inserted into the lineup in the fourth inning, Langreder came to the plate with two on and one out as the North led the West, 4-3.
What happened next shocked Langreder and put a charge into his teammates.
“It was a fastball in the middle and I said I was going to swing as hard as I can and hopefully it goes out,” Langreder said. “I hit it, and I took off. I didn’t even watch the ball. Then, all of a sudden, everyone started cheering and I kept rounding the bases.”
It was Langreder’s first home run of his life – and what a moment to do it in an all-star game against a strong pitcher in Fall Creek’s Marcus Cline.
The home run might give Langreder the desire to hit when he gets on the Northern Illinois University baseball team in the fall.
“Maybe,” he said laughing. “But they’re going to be throwing a lot harder in college.”
The three-run homer to left field gave the North a comfortable lead, as it went on to a 7-4 victory June 29 at E.J. Schneider Field in Oshkosh.
“We went crazy, the whole bench,” said one of the North coaches, John Berns from Sturgeon Bay. “It was one of those scenes where the team flooded out there to home plate, and he was beaming all the way around. Our third base coach, Jesse Dallas from Valders, was jumping up and down, arms in the air. Connor only got maybe one hit in his high school career because he doesn’t bat – he’s a pitcher.”
The three-day event, which had each team playing three games, proved to be a great experience for the left-handed pitcher.
“It was an awesome experience being with a bunch of guys from different teams out here playing,” Langreder said.
In the first two games of the all-star classic, Langreder was a position player.
As one of the six primary pitchers on the North team, Langreder only had the opportunity to pitch four innings.
He came on in relief in the fourth inning with the North trailing 3-2 against the East squad.
He pitched strong, allowing three runs on four hits and six strikeouts as the East won, 6-4.
Langreder found it to be challenging at times to face some of the top hitters in the state, but he loved the challenge.
He figured out what worked best late in his appearance, throwing two clean innings in the sixth and seventh.
“I basically tried to hit spots, hit corners and make sure all my pitches were working,” said Langreder.
Langreder, who is the first West De Pere player to compete in the all-star classic since Brendan Meissner in 2015, feels like he’ll be able to use some things he picked up at the classic when he’s at NIU.
“It helps because a lot of kids are going to college, and I know they can play ball at a higher level,” he said. “I know I can compete against them.”
Talking to the coaching staff at NIU, Langreder has been told he will have a shot to come in and compete in the fall.
If he does well, he could earn a starting spot in the rotation.
“It’s awesome knowing they have the confidence in me my freshman year and think I can pitch,” Langreder said.
This summer, Langreder plans on working out and playing more long toss to build up his arm strength.
He currently has four pitches – fastball, slurve, slider and changeup – in his arsenal.
His fastball is his best pitch, but he’s gotten good at throwing the slurve, which moves down into right-handed hitters.
“I usually throw that on any count,” Langreder said. “I started developing my slider this year and my changeup is alright.”
During a recent Legion game, Langreder said he hit 87 mph on his fastball and was in the mid-70s with his off-speed stuff.
He helped West De Pere reach the WIAA Division 2 state semifinals this year before falling to eventual champion Antigo.
The loss still lingers in Langreder’s mind, but he’s trying to remember the good times in his career.
“It’s cool because it was an awesome event and not a lot of people get to come to it,” he said. “It was a cool thing to finish out my high school season with.”