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Spring Valley/Elmwood had 10 wrestlers make the two All Dunn-St. Croix Conference teams for the 2014-15 season. The top wrestlers per weight class make the first team and next best make the second team. First team wrestlers for SVE are sophomore Cruze Hurlburt at 132 pounds, junior Logan Newton at 138, junior Jed Schlegel at 160 and junior Ethan Hofacker at 220. This is Hofacker’s third straight All D-SC first team award. Hurlburt was on the first team a year ago as well.
SPRING VALLEY – It’s unavoidable. Even though Spring Valley High School’s baseball team lost four players to graduation, including All D-SC Small players Zach Newton, Joe Helmer, Bryan Bednarek and Sean Ortner to graduation, Spring Valley is considered the favorite to win the division title again. That’s because SVHS returns seven lettermen from last season’s 14-3 squad which went 11-1 in conference play. But head coach Brad Baker knows the Cardinals won’t soar to first place so easily this spring. “We’re returning a lot of players with a lot of innings under their belts,” Baker said.
PLUM CITY – The return of senior Nash Gilles to the Plum City High School baseball team’s line-up after being out all last year with a shoulder injury will be a boon to the Blue Devils in more than just his talent in the field or at the plate, according to head coach Brent Blegen. “He’s a good athlete and he can play a lot of different positions,” Blegen said.
ELMWOOD – After their first 10 games of the 2014 season, the Elmwood High School baseball team had a 1-9 overall record. But the Raiders went 4-3 down the stretch and coach Mike Birtzer, joined this year by Dan Larson as co-head coach, hopes the team continues to rise helped by the return of nine lettermen. The Raiders lost just one player, Tyler Freyholtz, to graduation. “We started out last year with a lot of players who didn’t have a lot of varsity experience,” Birtzer said. “They eventually had to learn on the job and they got better, especially at the fundamentals.
PRESCOTT – The Middle Border Conference is atypical to many leagues when it comes to high school baseball, according to Prescott head coach Jeff Ryan. “Typically a league will have two or three really good teams,” Ryan said, “but the Middle Border usually has four to five teams that are contenders. You can’t ever take a day off. This season, Ellsworth is going to be tough. Amery is going to be charging up the standings. Osceola is solid, Somerset is good and Durand is going to be much improved.
It’s easy to look on paper and get excited over the potential the Ellsworth High School baseball team has this season. The Panthers return nine lettermen from their Middle Border Conference and regional championship squad of 2014. Of these returning lettermen, two were All-MBC players in seniors Brady Yanish and Nick Taranto. However, head Coach Steve Block said while the Panthers have potential they also have several challenges they have to meet first to make the potential mean something. One of those challenges is injuries.
SPRING VALLEY – The Spring Valley High School softball program has a new softball coach in guidance counselor Sharla Bauer, who replaces Amy Shafer as head coach. Bauer hopes to lead a turnaround in the squad which finished 6-11 a year ago (5-10 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference). The good spring weather in late March has given the Cardinals time to get outdoors and on the field. “We’ve been able to work a lot on fielding, which you can do indoors but it’s not the same,” Bauer said.
PLUM CITY – For nearly a decade each spring, the softball diamond at Plum City High School was empty as the 5 o’clock hour rolled by. No Dunn-St. Croix Conference game took place because PCHS did not have a team. Lack of numbers forced Plum City to co-op its program starting in 2007, first with Spring Valley for six seasons (2007-12) and then with Elmwood (2013-14). Now PCHS is back on its own with a team of 15 players ready to take the field again.
ELMWOOD – In the two seasons Elmwood High School’s softball program was together with Plum City in a co-op, the Raiders had back-to-back winning seasons and a regional championship. With both schools fielding teams this spring, Elmwood hopes to continue this success and has eight returning letter winners to do so. “I’m pleased with the turnout of kids we have for this year’s team” EHS head coach Becky Baier said.
The Wisconsin Football Association’s All-Star Game in Oshkosh on July 18 will feature three players from Pierce County: Prescott’s Garrett Ryan, Ellsworth’s Michael Koch and Elmwood/Plum City’s Levi Wolf. All three will be on the North squad for schools in Divisions 4-7. The WFCA All-Star Game isn’t just about the game itself at UW-Oshkosh’s Titan Stadium. It’s week of activities along with practices which make for a memorable experience for the players involved and raises money for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.