Rosholt baseball team looks to continue growing
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
Coming off back-to-back second-place finishes in the Central Wisconsin Conference-10 (CWC-10), the Rosholt High School baseball team is set to battle at the top of the CWC South this season.
The Hornets returned six starters from last year’s team that advanced to the WIAA Division 4 Sectional Semifinals, and are off to a 2-2 start this season following a 4-1 loss to reigning back-to-back CWC-10 Champion Almond-Bancroft at Brooks Field Monday, April 30.
“We’re young, and if we put the work into it like we should be doing, we’ll improve through the year,” said 33rd-year Rosholt baseball head coach Jack Brooks. “Not playing early hurt us a lot, we lost 14 games (due to weather), so it makes a difference.
“We’re basically playing like it’s the beginning of the year,” he said. “But it’s a matter of putting it together and playing right.”
Rosholt lost two-time First Team All-CWC-10 pitcher/utility player Kyle Groshek and Honorable Mention All-CWC-10 first baseman Wyatt Stanislawski from last season’s team that finished 17-9 overall following a 7-1 loss to eventual State Semifinalist Oakfield in the Sectional Semifinals.
Leading the Hornets at the top of the lineup are a trio of returning starters in junior third baseman/pitcher Tony Kropidlowski, Second Team All-CWC-10 junior shortstop/pitcher Hunter Garski and two-time First Team All-CWC-10 senior center fielder/pitcher Dylan Richter.
“Tony’s got a good glove, he pitches well and he hits the ball well, and he’s developing into a really good, solid player,” said Brooks. “Hunter’s played since he was a freshman and when he pitches he’s like a bulldog, he’s not very big, but all heart and he goes after it hard.
“Dylan hits it hard and he’s probably the best center fielder around, he’s got a lot of range he covers and he can throw a strike from center field to home, so he’s got the big arm,” he said.
Freshman catcher Isaac Cychosz hits cleanup and will also see time at pitcher, while right fielder Isaac Groshek and senior pitcher/third baseman John Suwyn return as starters.
“Isaac Cychosz is better than what he realizes right now, he’s got to make a couple of adjustments and he’ll hit the ball hard, and when he gets on base, he’s fast,” said Brooks. “Isaac Groshek was our most improved player and he really came on last year, he knows how to cover right field and he’s got a good arm.
“John pitches well, the thing is he throws too many pitches, he’s trying to be too fine on his pitches, he just needs to throw strikes and let the defense work behind him,” he said.
Second Team All-CWC-10 second baseman Logan McHugh is also back as a starter, while sophomore first baseman Isaac Kaminski has stepped into the starting lineup, with freshmen Brandon Wanta, Brock Lyshik and Nathan Kropidlowski among those battling for playing time.
“Logan can be a really good player, but he’s got to back up and relax, because he’s pressing right now with the bat,” said Brooks. “Isaac Kaminski’s bat’s getting better, he can hit the ball, and he’s very polite and a nice teammate to be around.
“And the thing about our young guys is they have to learn varsity pitching, they throw harder and they have balls that go different angles, rather than straight in,” he said. “So that’s what they’re working on right now.”
Rosholt opened this season with an 8-0 win at Wautoma March 29, then had almost a month off before a 4-3 loss to Pacelli Thursday, April 26.
The Hornets bounced back with a 6-3 win over Tri-County Friday, April 27, then had its home opener Monday against Almond-Bancroft at Brooks Field Monday.
Almond scored two runs on three hits in the top of the first inning off Suwyn to take a 2-0 lead, and then scored two more runs in the top of the fifth to go up 4-0.
Garski led off the bottom of the sixth with a single and Richter followed with a RBI double to make it 4-1, but that was as close as the Hornets would get, as Almond Honorable Mention All-State senior pitcher Alec Wiczek struck out 12 in a complete-game 4-1 win.
Garski finished 2-for-3, and Richter and Tony Kropidlowski each had a double to lead the Rosholt offense, which finished with six hits, but left runners stranded on base in five of the seven innings.
“Our problem all year has been strikeouts,” said Brooks. “Our hitting leaves a lot to be desired right now, which is kind of strange for a Rosholt team.
“We’ve got to be able to play the 1-0 and 2-1 games, because our hitting right now just is not where you come up and bang the ball all over the park,” he said. “But we’ve got to keep trying, keep learning, and hopefully something falls into place, and we keep after it.”
The Hornets will look to bounce back at home Thursday, May 3, against seventh-ranked Wild Rose, which is coached by Brooks’ son Brett, as they try to keep pace in the first-year CWC South, which also includes Almond, fourth-ranked Pittsville, Pacelli, Port Edwards and Tri-County.
“You could see a team win this conference, in 12 games, with four losses, because you’ve got good teams,” said Brooks. “Pittsville’s good, Almond won the conference the last two years and they’ve got a good, solid team.
“Brett down at Wild Rose has his whole team back, and he’s got a really solid team,” he said. “And then Pacelli plays baseball well, they know the game, and if you make a mistake against good teams, if you have an error or you strikeout in the wrong spot, it’s ballgame.”
Rosholt has 12 games left on its regular-season schedule before the WIAA Division 4 Playoffs begin May 24, and Brooks is looking forward to getting his team on the field to see what they can do.
“Last year we had some limitations and we tried to work to get into the tournament and do well, and we won the Regional and we went to the Sectional,” said Brooks, who entered this season ranked eighth in state history for career wins with a 511-142 record. “And actually it was a game we could’ve won, but we had the same problem there, we didn’t hit the ball well.
“Now we’re working to get into the tournament and keep improving and get our pitching in line, and try to get our hitting to the point where we can score some runs,” he said. “And then go out and scratch and claw, and hopefully get one more run than the other team.”