Black Sox end summer legion season for the books
By Jacob Heid
For high school baseball players, summer is just more time to spend on the baseball diamond.
Most players transition from the WIAA season right into the American Legion baseball season.
The Plover Black Sox, a mix of players from area schools, made the most of the summer in 2023.
Finishing as Upper Midwest Classic champions in Minnesota early in the season, more wins came along. The Black Sox finished the season with a 35-6 record, tied for the fifth most wins in program history.
“They also finished with the highest winning percentage in program history. These guys were so consistent in their effort and showed up every day to play,” Manager Wayne Sankey said. “They were one of my easiest groups to coach and they were all in it for each other trying to achieve the ultimate goal of a state championship. Although we came up short, this team is one I will never forget.”
A delayed start to the season started with five consecutive wins before a first loss to Sheboygan in a tournament up in Escanaba, Mich.
Another lengthy 13-game win streak put Plover at 18-1 at one point during the season.
Everything clicked in conference play as well, finishing 13-1, just ahead of the Wisconsin Rapids Rangers.
It was the 11th Wisconsin Valley League title in the last 15 seasons for Plover.
Plover was the regional champion and made it to the AAA Legion State tournament in Marinette.
The Black Sox didn’t lose consecutive games until the state tournament, losing to Eau Claire and Janesville to finish in sixth place.
“That is what I had stressed to them. No one beats us twice in a row,” Sankey explained. “They were just consistent and loved being at the baseball park every day to prove that they were one of the top teams in our area and in the state.”
All aspects of the game helped Plover to the 35 wins.
Pitching and defense were the main components to keep Plover up on the scoreboard.
The Black Sox had 10 shutout victories this season.
Offensively, Plover had multiple key hitters throughout the season.
Braylen Nystrom was one of them, finishing the legion season with 10 home runs in 2023.
Most players on this year’s roster can return to run it back next season because senior legion teams are 19U.