Monthly Archives: June 2017

CALM, COOL, COLLECTED MAKES NICK PAGET A SUCCESS

CALM, COOL, COLLECTED MAKES NICK PAGET A SUCCESS



When New Berlin West sophomore Nick Paget plays baseball the main reason he has had such a successful career so far can be summed up in one word - RELAX.

Paget is coming off a freshman season that saw him earn All-Woodland Conference (East-West combined) and All-Woodland West Division honors at first base.

"Baseball is such a relaxed sport," he said of the main reason for his success. "A sport you can have so much fun in. It's not intense all the time. It's not intense workouts. It's a sport you can share with your best friends. You can play catch with your dad. It's a leisure sport."

But what about with the game on the line? You still relaxed?

"In clutch situations, I'm really calm and take it like any other at bat or any other fielding situation," Paget said, matter of factly. "I don't take it like the world is resting on my shoulders. I just take it slow, remember the fundamentals. I'm a pretty calm player. I don't take anything too seriously. I crack a few jokes every now and then."

Vikings veteran coach Tom Farina had some interesting points about Paget following his sensational rookie season.

"I'm not sure anything could help his confidence more than he already has," he said. "Visiting with him he would say things like 'I figured out a long time ago, in order to play this game, you just kind a have to relax and not put pressure on yourself.'

"For a 14-15 year old kid to say that he has figured that out is one thing. But to watch him play and watch him do the thing that he does that he's not just saying the words.

"To someone who might watch him warm up or even play in the game they might look at him and say 'That looks like a lazy guy out there.' He's just that relaxed.

"But when the time comes for him to make a play or get a hit you can count on it. He's going to take care of his business."

Photo by Tom 'Sky' Skibosh --- Nick Paget earned first-team All-Woodland and All-Woodland West honors as a freshman.

"I felt my game really translated well in high school," he said. "I think a huge part of that was the coaches I had on the Heat. They coached us really well and prepared us well for this stage. I think most of my success was because of all my coaches I had."

Farina was asked if he was surprised by Paget's great success his freshman season.

"If you would have asked me if it was a surprise at the beginning of the season I would of said, 'Yes I'd be very surprised,'" he said. "But as the year went on we had a chance to see so many different teams and players, it was not a surprise. He earned everything he got last year without question."

He also talked about his approach at the plate.

"I'm a solid hitter," he said. "I like to attack the first pitch. I go up there looking to hit. I'm not up there looking to walk. If I see a first pitch that I like, I like to hop on it.

"I've always had a good approach at the plate. My whole life growing up I hardly ever strike out. With two strikes I have the mentally to put it in play at the minimum."

Having a year under his belt has helped Paget this season.

"Yes it definitely did," he said. "As a freshman you're scared and don't know what to expect. This year I knew what to expect. Everything - the pitches, the pitchers, the coaches from other teams, how teams were and I think it helped a lot."

Farina recalls first seeing Paget on the 8th grade select team.

"First time I noticed him and had an idea of what kind of player he could be," he said.

He has total confidence in himself. He understands that he would only do his job and not try to do more than he needs to do – and doing his job is more than good enough for any team.”

--- Coach Tom Farina

Paget then caught his eye at the open gyms his first year.

"From a defensive standpoint he was here for a lot of open gyms his freshman year. I watch all of the kids. He played in the fall leagues and the spring leagues and he was varsity ready right then as a defender.

"I wasn't quite sure what he would do with a bat in his hand. But then the season got underway last year and we brought him up right away as a freshman. Not only was he making solid contact and putting balls in play but he was quickly becoming the most clutch hitter we had on the team."

Farina recalled that Paget tied the game with two outs in the seventh against Pius XI with a home run last year.

"And then two innings later he came up with the bases loaded and two outs and drives in the winning with a walk-off hit and he's never stopped since."

Farina feels he doesn't have a lot to work on at the plate.

"I think with a bat in his hand he just needs to continue to do what he's doing," he said. "He hits line drives, he hits for power. Maybe he can be a little bit more consistent taking the ball away from him the other way when he needs to. But he is a gap-to-gap hitter."

Hitting was a subject Paget enjoyed talking about.

"As a hitter, I have a really good eye. I can identify pitches that I should or shouldn't swing at," he said. "That definitely helps how I hit the ball. If I see a pitch that is right in my wheelhouse then I can drive it. As a hitter my eye really helps.

"Everything else comes from that. Hitting with two strikes, on base percentage. I don't always get hits, but I don't strike out. I've struck out twice this year. Once you put the ball in play, you have a chance to get on base a lot."

Paget know he still has things to work on.

"I would definitely like to get better in fielding," he said. "I wouldn't say I'm a bad fielder, but it's not where I want it to be. Receiving the throw from other infielders is definitely my best part. I can scoop the ball or if it's up high I can get it. But I can improve my throwing and fielding grounders.

"And hitting curveballs. One part of my game I'm not really good at is hitting a curveball. So I definitely want to develop that."

Photo by Tom 'Sky' Skibosh --- Whether batting or fielding, Nick Paget is calm, cool and collected.

Farina spoke about Paget's defense and admires his thought process when he does make a mistake.

"He's a fabulous fielder," the veteran coach said. "He will pick anything out of the dirt. He missed a couple of pop-ups this year, but that's a perfect example. He could have hung his head, but he was like I made a mistake, now I will fix the mistake.

"That's the kind of player that he is. That's what puts him over the top of so many other players. He doesn't let a mistake bother him. He has a short memory. He will immediately figure out how to correct it."

But Farina points out he is only a sophomore.

"Defensively the more time on the field, the better he gets. The more he plays he will continue to get better because he doesn't take any days off."

Farina said he already is a team captain despite his youth.

"He had a lot of guys looking up to him when he went about his business," he said. "He didn't go about his business like he was a 14 year old last year and he's not this year. People look up to him because he has a fabulous attitude, a fabulous personality, as easy person to like and because he is that kind of guy, his teammates like him. He doe not look at himself as anything other than just another guy on the team - which makes it easy to follow him."

When asked about goals, not surprisingly Paget put the team first, saying he wanted them to go deep into the playoffs and maybe make it to state. Personally, he was hoping for a possible All-State mention.

"He has total confidence in himself," Farina said. "He understands that he would only do his job and not try to do more than he needs to do - and doing his job is more than good enough for any team."


QUESTIONS FOR NICK PAGET

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Macaroni & Cheese
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Hip Hop
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Stepbrothers, Comedies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  ESPN Sports
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Orlando, Florida
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch TV, listen to music.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Greendale.
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Walk-off grand slam vs Greendale.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attending University of Wisconsin - Madison. Study Actuarial Science.

















TOSA EAST’S BLAKE KRATZER KEYS DEFENSIVE EFFORT

BLAKE KRATZER LEADS WAUWATOSA EAST ON & OFF FIELD



Blake Kratzer made a lot of friends growing up and playing with the Little League All-Stars, the Milwaukee Bombers select team and the Jr. Raiders. Those friends were the reason Kratzer ended up on the Red Raiders baseball team.

"I was debating on playing baseball my freshman year and focus on basketball more," said Kratzer, who also played volleyball. "I was into AAU basketball and there were a lot of conflicts. I was actually thinking of it. But all my friends that I grew up playing baseball with got me to stay and play."

Growing up, Blake and his buddies played in the North Central Little League (NCLL) and then the best of those teams played on the Little League All-Stars. Many of his teammates made the All-Star team every year and were successful.

"All-Stars with our Little League, which was probably the most fun I had," Kratzer said. "The best players around your little league would get on one team which were basically the players on our Milwaukee Bombers traveling team.

"We had success at the All-Star Tournaments. We even made it to state two out of three years. The last year on the small diamond was the year we could advance to the Midwest and the Little League World Series. We were very close to advancing, losing in the semis at state. Those were the most fun years I had playing baseball. getting to the state tournament and representing our district. Getting to the semis was pretty cool. We won a lot of games that year.

"Between the All-Stars and the Bombers we almost had the exact same team. Our whole team was pretty close because of how much baseball we played together."

Tosa East Coach Pete Schwichtenberg, who was a varsity assistant at the time, rememberS Kratzer catching his eye at freshman tryouts.

"He was willing to work anywhere, even catching at that point," he recalled. "Being able to play anywhere is something that stood out for us. That and his hustle."

So Schwichtenberg kept his eye on Blake during the off-season and noticed his improvement in the tryouts that season.

"Seeing that jump in the tryouts - he looked very good like someone who could help us out," Schwichtenberg said. "That off-season, seeing him putting in work in open gyms, and willing to play anywhere he could to get on the field kind of really stood out. Then midway through that year he was up (on the varsity). That tryout he really showed me he was ready to be with us at that time."

Schwichtenberg talked about Kratzer's role this season.

"He's one of our three captains, so he is a guy we look to take charge and be a leader on the field," he said. "He's our shortstop and We have some young infielders, so he is pretty much in charge of helping them out.

"He hits in the middle of the lineup our 3 hitter, so he is pretty much in a big spot. We have a lot of young guys in the top of the order, but he's a guy who has been there. He's a guy we are really confident in. We know he is going to attack and drive in runs. He can show those young guys what we're going to be looking for - just having that leadership on all parts of the field."

Kratzer talked about his role on defense and considers it a strength.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Tosa East's Blake Kratzer keys the lineup from the third position in the batting order.

"My defensive ability, it's like little things, like common baseball," he said. "Being vocal on the field, staying positive. I think being a shortstop I'm pretty well rounded at that defensively. I think shortstop is one of the most important positions in baseball. I like having a big role on the team."

He also talked about his approach at the plate.

"I'm a solid hitter," he said. "I like to attack the first pitch. I go up there looking to hit. I'm not up there looking to walk. If I see a first pitch that I like, I like to hop on it.

"I've always had a good approach at the plate. My whole life growing up I hardly ever strike out. With two strikes I have the mentally to put it in play at the minimum."

Schwichtenberg also feels Kratzer brings an important role to the team on the field and at the plate.

"He's one of our three captains, so he is a guy we look to take charge and be a leader on the field," he said. "He's our shortstop and We have some young infielders, so he is pretty much in charge of helping them out.

"He hits in the middle of the lineup our 3 hitter, so he is pretty much in a big spot. We have a lot of young guys in the top of the order, but he's a guy who has been there. He's a guy we are really confident in. We know he is going to attack and drive in runs. He can show those young guys what we're going to be looking for - just having that leadership on all parts of the field."

Kratzer talked about his role on defense and considers it a strength.

"My defensive ability, it's like little things, like common baseball," he said. "Being vocal on the field, staying positive. I think being a shortstop I'm pretty well rounded at that defensively. I think shortstop is one of the most important positions in baseball. I like having a big role on the team."

He also talked about his approach at the plate.

"I've always had a good approach at the plate. My whole life growing up I hardly ever strike out. With two strikes I have the mentally to put it in play at the minimum."

Schwichtenberg also feels Kratzer brings an important role to the team on the field and at the plate.

He has a passion for the game. He wants to win. He wants to put us in spots to compete. He’s a big time competitor.”

--- Coach Pete Schwichtenberg

"He has a passion for the game. He wants to win. He wants to put us in spots to compete. He's a big time competitor."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Shortstop Blake Kratzer anchors the infield for the Red Raiders.

Kratzer is one of three captains, along with Aaron Plaisted and Ricky Serrano. It's a title he is happy to hold.

"I think it's really important," he said. "I saw that last year. We had really good captains and we improved last year and I think a big part of that was the captains being a leader and getting everyone to buy into the same thing.

"We have a good number of young guys on our team and they all have stuff to contribute too. If they make a mistake and get their head down, you have to remind them to just forget about it and move on. This is not a sport where you can hang your head.

"Baseball is a game you fail a lot at - whatever you're doing. You're probably going to fail 7 out of 10 times at the plate and it's OK. They have to realize you have to be ready the next at bat or the next play in the field. You have to make sure everyone is staying positive."

Schwichtenberg is happy with the way Kratzer has taken on the leadership role.

"He's a good example; he hustles everywhere on the field," he said. He's a real competitor. He leads that way. When we need somebody to step up and say something he is someone who is able to step up and take care of it. He's been a guy who is able to talk to the younger guys.

"He's been through a lot in the program so he's taken that next step to help guys out in anyway. He has done an outstanding job being a captain and leading.

"He's a guy that like jokes around, a great kid overall. He has that personality. Just like a leader in all he does."


QUESTIONS FOR BLAKE KRATZER

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  BBQ Ribs
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Pop & Country Music.
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Blind Side. Comedies and horror movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  ESPN Sportscenter
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Bahamas
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Being outside, go out to eat.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Wauwatosa West
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Beat Oak Creek, 3-0, last year.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Going to attend Marquette University. May study, math, sciene or engineering.

















M.J. HOUDEK LOOKING FOR GOOD SEASON HIS FINAL TIME AROUND

M.J. HOUDEK LOOKING FOR GOOD SEASON HIS FINAL TIME AROUND



Having a catcher who is good defensively, has a solid throwing arm and hitting skills is a coach's dream come through. Now add leadership skills to that formula and you understand the smile the comes to Brookfield Central Coach Jeff Bigler's face when asked about M.J. Houdek.

Bigler had a glowing scouting report on Houdek before a recent game at Brookfield Central's outstanding baseball facility.

The first thing a coach wants from his catcher is defense and Houdek brings a full plate to the table according to Bigler.

"First of all, he has done just a tremendous job of framing this year, getting the pitchers some extra strikes, maybe on the edges," Bigler said. Houdek also makes a habit of knowing his pitching staff, especially during a game.

"This year he has been such a tremendous leader, just making sure the pitchers don't loose their frame of mind," Bigler said. If a pitcher gets out of his comfort zone and you can tell he's getting a little bit uneasy, he'll go out there without us even having to tell him. You can tell he just has that presence to know when his pitcher is not performing at the level."

Houdek also protects his catches by keeping track of the opponents base runners.

"He has a plus arm across the diamond," Bigler said. "His ball gets across - he's somewhere in that 2-2.1 seconds range which is what is what you want to see in anyone."

Houdek shared his routine with the day's starting pitcher and talked about how they work together with pitching coach Jeff Mierow.

"Before the game, the pitcher and I will go down to the bullpen about 20 minutes and pitching coach (Jeff Mierow) will go with us," Houdek said. "On our way back to the dugout we'll talk about if we want to work backwards, is there a certain guy in the lineup we have to worry about, if there's a specific plan for him. Normally if they Ipitcher warming up) can't find a spot within 5 or 6 pitches, you can tell that pitch is not working that day. If those pitches are on, then you know we can use those pitches.

"Once we get into the game, coach Mierow calls pitches from the dugout and if the pitcher isn't comfortable with what was called he can shake it off. It's my pitch to work with after that."

Houdek is proud of his work behind the plate.

"I have a pretty strong arm. I feel really comfortable in my arm strength," he said. "I'm very vocal out there, so feel I can help my teammates out. Yelling that runners are tagging up on fly ball or where the ball is going when it's being brought in or where the infielder should go. I feel I can direct traffic when I'm back there."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Defense and handling pitching staff big part of MJ Houdek's game.

After starting his career at shortstop/third base and pitcher until he was 12 years old, then Houdek started to catch.

"I started to catch more and at age 13 and at age 14 I decided to move behind the plate for good. I either DHed or caught. I love catching. "You're always in the game.

"When I was playing third, you'd maybe get three or four balls hit there a game. As a catcher you got to be in on every pitch. You've got something to do, whether you're framing a pitch, calling a game or trying to throw somebody out. You're always involved and I felt I could have a much bigger on the impact of the game catching than I did playing third or playing the outfield."

Houdek first played Tee-Ball Park & Recreation team when he was 4 years old and then played in the Elm Grove Little League when he turned 6 years old.

"I just fell in love with it," Houdek said of baseball. "In football, the kids that have the most success are like freak athletes, kids who are super strong, super fast. Anyone can be good at baseball if you're sound fundamentally. Everyone could have success at that.

"It's what made me fall in love with the game. I was never this freak athlete kid, but I did pretty well in baseball. I really loved the game and that's what endeared baseball to me."

Houdek played club baseball his freshman and sophomore season, but Bigler was aware of his baseball skills.

He’s a great spirit. He’s a fun kid. He knows when to laugh at himself. He knows when to be serious, he knows when to relax. You know he’s going to be successful in life because he makes everyone better.”

--- Coach Jeff Bigler

"The guys were working out in the off-season at a place called the Sandlot in Waukesha," Bigler recalled. "He started showing up there and you keep an ear to the ground and listen to what the kids are talking about. When they told me M.J. is going to be coming out this year, I knew he was a good catching prospect.

"I showed up to observe a few times and noticed what he could do right away. His skills just kind of jump out at you. He had that baseball skills set that you really like to see in ballplayers."

One of those skills sets is hitting.

"I feel I'm a pretty solid hitter throughout," Houdek said. "I have a good mix of power and contact. I'm not super fast, but I feel like I don't have a whole lot of weaknesses."

Bigler liked what he saw with Houdek at the plate.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC--- M.J. Houdek is one of the Lancers captains this year.

"He does a good job in all facets. I would say he has plus power. I feel like he hits to all fields. which is good to see," he said. "He doesn't try to pull the ball too much. He tries to hit the ball where it's pitched.

"I talk to him as a hitting coach that when he plants that front foot to make sure he gets his hands in a little better power position or a little higher so he can get on top of that high fastball that at times he has trouble catching up to. As a result, he will get a fly ball when he should be hitting a line drive."

Bigler is also impressed with M.J.'s thought process at the plate.

"He works the count well," he said. "He hits situationally. He knows when he needs to hit a ground ball with a guy on third and the infield back. He's done this already this year which is great.

"He doesn't try to do too much. Just because he's a big kid, you might think he's a home run hitter. No one in high school is a home run hitter."

The Lancers have 19 men on the roster, which includes 6 captains - 4 seniors (Houdek, Michael Panos, Jonathan Osman, Michael Hinz) and 2 juniors (Adam Baade, Zach Heckman).

"We have a lot of leadership on this team - we have a very big team," M.J. said. "They make sure these guys have someone to talk to if they are unsure about something and they don't want to go to the coach. We have so many guys who can lead. So many guys who do what is expected as captains."

Houdek is one of those leaders and it is a responsibility that he enjoys.

"This is my first year and it means a lot to me," he said. "It means the coaching staff has recognized me and the other five of us - guys who can lead this team and set a tone, especially coming off last year (5-15, injury-riddled team)."

Houdek feels communication is important, but he knows where his focus is with 5 other captains.

"I'm comfortable helping someone with things I can correct," he said. "I wouldn't want an outfielder who tells me how to catch and I wouldn't try to tell a outfielder how to play the outfield. If I see anything I feel I can fix, I would try and correct that."

Bigler is also pleased with the leadership skills Houdek's has shown.

"He's stepped up in that category, which the team was desperately lacking last year," he said. "He was one of the kids with Mike Panos who came up to me at the end of last year and said 'Coach what can we do to make this team better next year?' As a coach, that kind of blows you away.

"They aren't thinking about themselves or their own agenda. They were thinking of team first. They knew they didn't want to repeat that (last year). They put the team first.

"MJ even displayed that even at the end of last year. He played practice ball in the fall, did the indoor stuff and made sure everyone was ready."

As the interview came to a close, Bigler was asked if there was anything else he would like to add.

"He's a great spirit. He's a fun kid," he said. "He knows when to laugh at himself. He knows when to be serious, he knows when to relax.

"You know he's going to be successful in life because he makes everyone better."


QUESTIONS FOR M.J. HOUDEK

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  BBQ Buffalo Wings.
  • FAVORITE MUSIC: M & M, Rap.
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Sports and Action movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Big Bang Theory.
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  History.
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  New York City
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch TV, play video games or take batting practice.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Finals of GMC consolation, beat Menomonee Falls, MJ had a 3-run HR.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend St. Thomas University and play baseball. Be a lawyer if he couldn't play professional baseball, even in the minors.

















DON’T BE FOOLED – BREWERS ON THE RIGHT PATH

If the Milwaukee Brewers are to continue to battle for a Central Division title – ‘if’ being the key word here – it is going to be a roller-coaster season.

One of the major reasons with the Brewers being in first place is a World Series hangover by the team 90 miles south. The Cubs are starting to wake up and anyone who thinks the Brewers match up with their talent, please stop reading right here.

I picked the Brewers to win 78 games. The fact that they have won 32 games on June 9 is amazing. The bottom line is this. They will have to win the division to make the playoffs, because there are too many good teams in the Eastern and especially Western Divisions to win a wild card spot.

In every area, the Brewers are having a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde season. Let’s take a look.

HITTING — David Stearns has done well with the offense. Corners Eric Thames and Travis Shaw and catchers Jett Bandy/Manny Pina have excelled. When healthy – which is not often – Ryan Braun is still one of the better hitters around – and it looks like Domingo Santana is coming into this own.

SS Orlando Arcia is holding down the fort on defense and I don’t expect him to be more than a .250 hitter this year. But the improvement is there.

That leaves Jonathan Villar at 2B and Keon Broxton in CF with disappointing seasons so far. Eric Sogard has been ridiculous in a good way filling in all over as has the always reliable Hernan Perez. Jesus Aguilar at 1B, who has struggled defensively lately, but not enough to be worried, has been a key bat.

The Brewers fast starts have been talked about a lot, but they have a tendency to shut off the offense down the stretch, especially with RISP.

MY THOUGHTS — It’s not a perfect world, but this offense is fun to watch, knowing there are reinforcements around the corner.

STARTING PITCHING — As of June 9, the jury is still out on this staff. I like Junior Guerra and Zach Davies – but as fourth/fifth starters on a decent team (not a title team). I feel this is it for Jimmy Nelson. Hopefully he feels the same way. He is really up and down, pitching well lately.

Matt Garza when healthy – like Braun, not healthy enough – has changed his way of pitching (adjusting from power to change of pace and control). I admire him for being able to do it and hope it lasts. Most importantly if he can’t be traded, he’s gone after this year.

Then there is Chase Anderson, who is going for Teddy Higuera’s team consecutive shutout record. He started strong, slumped badly and now he’s like “Who is this guy?” Man has been fantastic lately.

MY THOUGHTS — Sorry people. But there is no way I can see this rotation line up in a playoff series and be successful.

BULLPEN — Oh my goodness, I feel bad for Craig Counsell. Corey Knebel is the only one of eight relievers I have any confidence in. Jacob Barnes is the next best hurler, but there is a gap between him and Knebel.

Now the tough question. Please raise your hand if you feel brimming with confidence when Oliver Drake, Jared Hughes, Wily Peralta, Neftali Perez, Rob Scahill or Carlos Torres enters the game – no matter what the score.

I’m sure not too many hands went up.

MY THOUGHTS — No matter what the house line is about some of their righthanders can get lefties out – they have trouble getting right-handed hitters out. Somewhere they need a lefthander.

You can get one like Brad Hand of San Diego, who is rumored to be on the market, although the Padres would sooner trade closer Brandon Maurer, but Hand would cost an arm and a leg. Lefthanders are hard to find and expensive.

Or you can look to within. If you are limiting Josh Hader’s innings now to 2 innings an outing at Colorado Springs to save his arm, let him do that in the big leagues and keep an eye on him.

I remember when I worked with the Brewers. Dan Plesac was coming off a 12-5, 4.97 ERA season at Double A El Paso. Manager George saw him in his first spring training and was impressed by his stuff. Bambi said let’s use him in the bullpen and keep an eye on him instead of sending him out and Plesac never went back to the minors again.

I see a possibility of doing this with Hader.

BOTTOM LINE — I have said ‘enjoy the moment’ because I don’t feel the Brewers are going to make the playoffs. I have hardly missed a game. I do get upset because I care. When they mess up big time like walking the opposing pitcher on 4 pitches – or to strike out on a pitch a foot outside the strike zone – I go nuts on Twitter.

I hope Stearns sticks to his guns and doesn’t trade a good prospect if the Brewers are close. If he trades the farm to improve this team I would be disappointed.

The Brewers are ahead of schedule, which means the plan is working. Stick to it.

 

 

 

 

 

Coach’s gamble with Emma Staszkiewicz paid off big time

COACH'S GAMBLE WITH EMMA STASZKIEWICZ PAID OFF BIG TIME



Brookfield Central girls soccer coach Dan Makal decided to take a gamble with junior Emma Staszkiewicz her freshman season - and boy did it pay off.

Makal, who first saw Staszkiewicz play in the state semifinal in eighth grade, never forgot the moment.

"You always want to know what your freshman team is going to be about," Makal recalled. "I saw how the other teams tried to play against her and it wasn't very effective (laughs)."

So Makal watched Staszkiewicz closely when she came out her freshman season.

"We had an intrasquad match and she tore some people up," he said. "So we said we were going to take a gamble. We did the year before and brought up a some freshmen (Caroline Busch, Elizabeth Busch and Sarah Pasternak). The gamble paid off for us. We always had this 'club mentality' with the program.

"Sometimes you need younger kids in there to understand the culture. The long term process becomes seamless. That year we weren't super productive in goal scoring. One of our goals were to bring in strong attacking players. You could see Emma as a 14-year old surpass 17 year old kids at that time. It was like alright we can do some stuff with her."

You will hear Makal use the term culture a lot when he talks about the program.

"We're always trying to find a couple younger kids early," he said. "The entire program has the same culture, but on the varsity you are living it every day. Those kids are living with each other in a highly competitive and family-based environment. If you get that only as a junior and senior it's hard to get the total buy in. They need to understand the expectations.

"That's a massive part of the culture. It's something that we put out there as a program and they (the team) help design - what they want for the season. Then you (the coaches) have to set the prime degree on it."

Makal spoke about his strategy with Staszkiewicz her first year.

"We didn't start her as a freshman," he said. "She came on as a super sub. We had players who played on top who did a certain thing and then we would bring her on and it was like 'What the hell just happened.' That was a totally game-changing concept. To see some freshman do that, that's massive.

"Her early success was she found the back of the net as a freshman multiple times."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Central tied for first her freshman year (2015) and she earned first-team All-Greater Metro Conference honors at forward.

When asked if her early success made Staszkiewicz a marked man, Makal didn't hesitate to answer.

"100 percent. Lot of times they start off double-teaming her," he said. "You (the opponent) can have her take on two players if you want to mark her out of a game. But then we're going to get points in a different way."

Having talented teammates makes Staszkiewicz a better player and the Lancers a better team.

"It's amazing being surrounded by players like Brandi (Thomsen), Caroline (Busch), Sarah (Knopp), Claire (Haynes) and Jenny (Cape) because they are all so good," Emma said. "It makes me work harder because we all push each other as players and it's good to have a deep team like that. No matter who you put on the field, they're going to do a good job."

Staszkiewicz had an even better sophomore year, earning first-team All-GMC honors and a spot on the WSCA All-State first team, a big honor for a second-team player.

She had 31 goals and 4 asists for 66 points as the Lancers tied for first place once again. But Makal is not big on scoring stats because even Emma's stats are limited because of the type of team Central is.

"We only play around 15-20 games, so her 31 goals is impressive, especially since she hardly played in several blowouts," Makal said. "Against one conference team she scored 3 goals in 3:47 and she was done for the day."

I think she’d be a great college player. You rarely come across what she has – the talent, the rawness of what she can bring.”

- Coach Dan Makal

"When I get an assist, it's great. It's always fun to see anyone score. It's fun to celebrate - no matter who it is."

Not surprisingly, Emma is focused on team goals not individual goals.

"State is always our main goal," she said. "It helps (individual honors), but I don't think of that as much as I think what we want to accomplish as a team. Those are the things that pop into my mind. I want to accomplish things with them, not for myself. "

"My quickness, which makes it more possible to make me score," Emma said. "The players I have play with me give me those opportunities to score, but I have the speed I need. That's how I am able to beat defenders, who want to beat me up. That pushes me more and I want to beat them more."

Makal agreed with her about her speed, but he has been more impressed with another quality.

"She's strong, real strong," he said. "Sometimes when Emma gets (ticked) off, I'm not sure if anyone is going to push her down. She's going to beat you to the ball. She has that second level of aggression that comes from being a competitor. That's really tough because she has pace and just brute strength to get past anybody. Determination. That's one of her biggest strengths."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

So what does someone this talented have to work on?

"In terms of finishing, something I have to work on is placement over power," Emma said. "Sometimes I put too much on shots rather than taking the simple placement there."

Makal brought out a different area. He worries about her working too hard.

"Getting technical, you're not worried about her head. You want to know how long can she do this to get quality all the time," he said. "How do you replicate that and continue to do it in long bouts?

"She has put her time in after practice sessions to go work individually, to get back where she feels where she wants to be. That's not a pressure thing from us, but we're there to support her."

Makal talked about helping a student-athlete individually reach their potential, even past the high school level.

"We're providing the kids an opportunity to go as far as they want. Not a lot of kids have that though," he said. "There are kids that really want to play at that next level but do not have the natural skills as Emma does. Then there are the kids that want it so badly that they burn themselves out a little bit.

"Emma is in this place that if she wants to go and play (next level), I'm 100 percent in support of her. I think she'd be a great college player. I think she can do a lot if she wants to. That's a blessing that she has because not a lot of kids have that.

"You rarely come across what she has - the talent, the rawness of what she can bring."


QUESTIONS FOR EMMA STASZKIEWICZ

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Tacos.
  • FAVORITE MUSIC: Panic at the Disco. Indie Rock
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'We're the Millers.' Comedies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Grey's Anatomy.
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Social Studies.
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  New York City
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Hang with her friends.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Divine Savior Holy Angels
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Beating Divine Savior Holy Angels as a freshman.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend college and play soccer.

















Adam Garski helping put Tosa golf on the map

ADAM GARSKI HELPING TO PUT TOSA GOLF ON THE MAP



Take a look at the top golfers in the Greater Metro Conference this season and you will find the name of Adam Garski one more time.

Garski is a talented junior from Wauwatosa East who plays on the combined Tosa East-West golf team.​

Garski has earned all-conference honors for the third year in a row (a second-team selection and two first-team spots), finishing fourth (top five are first-team) in GMC action for the current season. He shot a 68 and won the Homestead Sectional by 5 strokes and will go to the WIAA State Golf Championship on June 5-6 at University Ridge in Madison for the third straight season.

Veteran Tosa coach John Ravenola has seen Adam's confidence grow the past three years.

"I saw more determination," he said. "We played with Harrison Witt (Marquette senior and one of the state's top golfers) in the Junior PGA in the off-season. That helped him. At times he outplayed him. That helped him with his confidence. He has the same goals, only now he's better."

Garski improved in his first two trips to state, tying for 40th as a freshman (161, 17 over par) and tying for 17th (152, 8 over par) last year. His success at state also helped him with his confidence.

"It definitely boosted my confidence because I used to second-guess myself," the personable Garski said. "I would go into a tournament and look at other guys and say 'Ah, they're going to beat me.' Now knowing that I went to state, I would say 'I know I can beat that guy. I can beat that guy.'"

Garski owes his start in golf to his grandfather, Chuck Brunau, who signed him up for lessons at Brown Deer when he was only 5 years old.

"And ever since then, it's just taken off," Adam said. "I like the individualism of it. I was never a team sport guy - I like controlling my own destiny. I love being outdoors. I have the patience for it. My parents (Kevin & Kim) and my grandparents (Chuck & Joyce) could see from the start I had some natural talents for it. Having that as well helped."

By Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Adam Garski is putting Tosa golf back on the map.

Garski, who attended Longfellow Middle School, would play with his parents and his grandfather, but the Junior Tournament events first exposed him to competitive golf. From 10-15 years of age he played on the Jr. PGA Tournament Tour throughout the state during the summer.

Ravenola was not surprised by Garski's performance his freshman year.

"I heard about him in middle school," he said. "We were told there was a good golfer there, so when he showed up as freshman he was everything they said he was going to be. He lives and breathes golf.

"When he was in 7th grade, he actually showed up with his older sister (Nora) who was doing something in sports sign-up at Tosa East. He said he could have gone to Marquette, but wanted to go to Tosa East.

"When I first saw him, he did not look like an athlete. He looked like he belonged in the science lab. But looks can be deceiving. It didn’t take long at all to see what he could do. You couldn't predict that."

Garski wasn't surprised he immediately made the varsity.

"I knew I was good enough to be on the varsity, but what I really got out of it was being exposed to the upper classmen. It made me be a little more mature - on the course and off the course in the classroom."

When you’re a freshman people don’t understand. At 14-15, it’s hard to handle. But he had a good time with it and enjoyed the experience.”

- Coach John Ravenola on Adam Garski's early success.

Garski recalled what it was like going to state his freshman year.

"All the boys came out to watch me so that was really fun," he said. "It was really fun because I know I made it as an individual. There were only one or two others in the state who made it as a freshman."

Being at state was different experience for the usually calm Garski.

"I never get nervous on a golf course, but that first tee shot was nerve-wracking," he laughed. "My hands were shaking. I didn't hit it very well, but from there I played decent. My scores were pretty good for being a freshman I thought.

"But your thoughts are to yourself. You aren't influenced by anyone else. The crowds are really respectful. You can't heckle or anything like that. That state pressure is like no other."

Ravenola was asked about Garski's early success.

"I was cautiously optimistic," he said. "When you’re a freshman people don't understand. At 14-15, it's hard to handle. But he had a good time with it and enjoyed the experience."

What makes Garski so successful?

"Definitely my short game," he said. "My short game saves me a lot. I work hard on my putting and my chipping. Getting up and down when you're in trouble. It just helps saves the round."

Ravenola agrees.

"No question his short game," he said. "He gets up and down more than any high school player. He's not long off the tee. He's not (a big shooter) off the tee. But makes up for that by getting on the green and making that put."

One thing that Garski wants to work on more is the mental part of his game.

"I need to learn what I can do well and what I can't do well," he said. "I need to manage my mistakes a little better because some high numbers can come into play there. If I can think a little more when I'm on the course, I'm confident in my drives and my irons. I need to think a little more.

"You need the talent but you definitely have to be mentally tough. Don't let mistakes get you too low or have good things get you too high. Those are the ones who can succeed because in golf, one shot can make it or break it. So you have to have a really strong mental game."

Ravenola also talks about the mental part of the game in general with young players.

"Course management can get better with any young player," he said. "Looking at the hole, deciding where you want to put the ball. That's a learning curve. It's a huge difference. When kids learn, they don’t make mistakes. There's no double bogies. Sometimes freshman try to whale at it, try to reach back to make up for it and they make things worst.

"You can't fix things in the middle of the round. From a coaching standpoint, you welcome it (course management). After a number of years, you read the course and make the right adjustments."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Pictured with his driver, Adam Garski's short game is his strength.

Garski has been a captain the past two years.

"The main reason was his dedication to the game. He truly deserves to do well," Ravenola said. "He's what you want (in a captain). He's spot on. He thinks of everyone and that comes across. He doesn't look down at people because of his knowledge. He puts the time in to get the point across."

Garski is happy with his leadership role.

"This year we have a really young team," he said. "We have a freshman and a sophomore I think they look up to me. Even the seniors, who don't play golf as their main sport. They look to me for advice, for what to do, if something goes wrong on the course. I like it when they can come back to me and say 'This tip you gave to me really helped.'

"One of the things with our team is we have a great chemistry. The guys aren't scared to come up to me to ask a question or I'm not afraid to go up to them and show them how to make it better."

"You need someone to look up to and I want to be that person," he said. "I want to make sure that everyone's comfortable when they need help with a certain shot. I have a lot more experience than the players on my team. I've done a lot more off-season stuff than they have. So I have a little bit more match experience. So being able to have teammates who are comfortable coming up to me, it makes the team better when you have strong leadership."

Garski is also excited about the team's future and the fact they have put Tosa golf back on the map by taking second in the tough GMC this year.

"We're ecstatic. I don't think Tosa's had a team like this in a long time," he said. "What's great is we have 2 juniors, a sophomore and a freshman so we should be good for years to come. We've shown a few times when we're all on we can compete with the best teams in the state. Even when one of our guys isn't on, a couple others can pick him up."

Which is typical of Garski, focusing on the team's success.


QUESTIONS FOR ADAM GARSKI

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Pizza
  • FAVORITE MUSIC: Led Zeppelin, Classic Rock
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Caddyshack, Action.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Family Guy.
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  AP Chemistry.
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Hilton Head, S.C.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Hang with his golf buddies.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Marquette High School.