Monthly Archives: July 2017

Lancers, Michael Hinz both bounce back to have good seasons

LANCERS, ACE PITCHER
MICHAEL HINZ BOTH BOUNCE BACK TO HAVE GOOD SEASONS




Brookfield Central's baseball team came back from a season in which their team resembled a M.A.S.H. unit more than a baseball team. Senior pitcher Michael Hinz, who bounced back from an injury, was perhaps one of the main reasons for it.

The Lancers tied for fourth (11-7) with Menomonee Falls and finished with a 20-12 overall record. Central won the regional title, but lost to Waukesha North, 4-1, in the sectional semi-final.

Leading the way was Hinz, who finished with an 8-1 record and a save, with 5 quality starts and 3 complete games in his 11 games. In 52.2 innings, he fanned 35 hitters, walked 20 and allowed only 7 earned runs, finishing with a 0.94 ERA.

"I was pumped. I couldn't wait to get out there this year, especially missing last season (broken right index finger)," Hinz said, looking back at the Lancers (7-24, 5-15). "I was extremely excited to get out there and play again. I knew we were going to be better than teams thought we would be this year and that's how it turned out.

"I'm extremely happy with my season," said Hinz, the Lancers' only first-team All-Greater Metro Conference selection. "I know going into the year, our goal was to just be above .500. We surpassed that right off the bat. We had a huge win against Tosa East (1-0, 10 innings) early and it just took off from there. Our hitting came around and the pitching was just great. Our team ERA is insane (2.36)."

Veteran Central coach Jeff Bigler talked about what Hinz meant to the Lancers.

Bigler knew Michael would be something special.

"When he came up as a sophomore and pitched a few non-conference games for us, we knew he had a lot of talent," he said. "He has a big frame, a lot of leverage, long arms and we really touted him as a prospect. That's why we brought him up as a sophomore to pitch in the Lancers Invitational. We really looked for big things from him.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Michael Hinz earned first-team All-Greater Metro Conference honors, the only Lancer on first team.

"His role is definitely our No. 1 pitcher, someone we know we can give the ball to where we are so confident you can pick up that vibe when the kids take the field," he said. "Going through our pre-game and after the National Anthem, they get fired up because they know he is going to be around the plate. They know he is going to give them the chance to win every game and the mindset he takes with him on the hill. He just goes after hitters."

Bigler then talked about Hinz's approach.

"I think he's a little unorthodox in the way he delivers the baseball," he said. He's not fundamentally perfect, but he replicates well. He doesn't do things differently. He's able to stay consistent with the location of his pitches more or less. He has a tremendous walk to strikeout ratio and walk per game ratio, which in high school he can not put a better formula together to win games and not walk high school hitters."

It’s about competing. When he gets out there, he just competes. It makes for an atmosphere that gets us all in that frame of mind.”

--- Coach Jeff Bigler

Bigler the explained what he meant by unorthodox when talking about his delivery.

"He has the limbs flying everywhere," he said. "The sidearm release points, the high leg kick. Because of his arm angle he drops down to the side a little bit. You just don't see that in high school. The slider away from you and the two-seam coming on your hands. It's tough for high school hitters to square up."

Hinz's ability to throw strikes is also a key to his success.

"Getting the first pitch over for a strike, getting ahead of the hitters, it's so important," Bigler said. "If you pitch from behind all the time, you are going to have issues. He goes right at people, whether he has to spin his slider for a strike or he throws a fastball for the first pitch, he's getting ahead of the majority of the hitters."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Senior righthander Michael Hinz was 8-1 with a 0.94 ERA.

Hinz brought up another part of his game which he feels strongly about.

"Being able to hit a spot when runners are on," he said. "I'm usually pretty good at getting through the inning. If there are runners on second or third with an out, I usually can get a strikeout, get through tough innings. My composure on the mound is pretty good. After getting runners on I can usually shut it down."

Hinz has been working on his game since Tee-ball when he was 5 years old. He tried out for the Brookfield Bulldogs then and that's where it started for him. He then played select baseball with the Wisconsin Wildcats through 7th and 8th grade.

"My brother (Ryan), I remember watching him. He was really good," said Michael of his older brother who was a star for the Lancers and the Brookfield Bulldogs of the Land O'Lakes. "I kind of wanted to be like that. I loved the sport. It's not too overwhelming. I loved it from the beginning."

Hinz has a variety of pitches and good control, an excellent combination for any pitcher, let alone a high school hurler. He has a fastball, two seamer, and then a slider and he will occasionally mix in a changeup.

"It's really the fastball (80-79 mph) and the slider that gets me," he said. "My fastball kind of tails down and it's tough to hit when they square up on it and the slider goes away from the hitter."

Hinz credits catcher MJ Houdek with calling a good game.

"MJ knows guys up and down the other team and he'll give me the scouting report," he said. "Sometimes there are 3-4 hitters who we'll try and work around them, work the corners. Towards the bottom of the order we'll go right at them."

Hinz was one of six captains this season, something he is proud of.

"It's extremely important," he said. "Going into the year, I thought 6 captains were a lot, but we have all different roles."

Bigler described Hinz's leadership style.

"He's a quiet lead by example guy," he said. "He's just got that bulldog mentality. The other kids feed off of it. Some kids don't wear their emotions on their face - and he does.

"One of the first things I liked about what he did when I was taking him out of a game - and he had another hitter or two to pitch to to get out of the inning - he did not want to come out of the game. He got upset. He wasn't disrespectful. He handed me the baseball but he did not want to come out of that game. He wanted to finish.

"He's such a competitor. I feed off that. The rest of our team feed off that. It's just fun to watch when you get out there. That's what it's all about.

"It's about competing. When he gets out there, he just competes. It makes for an atmosphere that gets us all in that frame of mind."


QUESTIONS FOR MICHAEL HINZ

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Cheeseburgers
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  'Future' Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Fast & Furious series,' Action.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Big Bang Theory
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Physical Education
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Lake Como, Italy
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch TV, Sportscenter, Brewers
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Beating Waukesha West, 2-1, in this year's regional title game
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and play baseball. UWM has given him a preferred walk-on offer for the fall.

















Red Raiders’ Jeff Mason made good first impression

RED RAIDERS' JEFF MASON MADE GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION




It didn't take Wauwatosa East baseball coach Pete Schwichtenberg long to know he had something special in Jeff Mason.

The Red Raiders varsity needed some pitching during Mason's first year with the program, so the call went out to the freshman team.

"We talked to the freshman coach and he said Jeff was throwing strikes," Schwichtenberg recalled. "He had his first start - we were going to try and take it slow with him and get it going - and he had a complete game against (West Allis) Hale.

"After his first start the coaches said 'This kid's not going anywhere. He's going to stay up with us because we'd been struggling to shut a team down and he was able to do that right away,'" Schwichtenberg said.

"He didn't throw that hard, but he hit his spots. He never got rattled, which is huge. He has always been a kid who would just throw strikes. He was a really quiet kid. He didn't really know a whole ton of guys on the team.

"But when he went to the mound, he was a completely different kid. He looked like he was in control. Nothing really bothered him being on varsity. It was really cool to see that. He was ready to compete right away."

Having a successful freshman year helped Mason the following season.

"I think it helped me a lot because I didn't expect to have that success," he said. "I went into my freshman year not knowing what to expect exactly. If I wasn't the best on the team, I would have been fine not making the freshman team if I really wasn't that good.

"But knowing I was good enough to be playing it helped me a lot to really get a lot of work in in the off-season and I trained to make this a real dream come true."

Mason began his baseball career on a softball diamond as a kid, as his parents (Scott, Sarah DeYoung) got him in a league with some friends before one of his neighborhood friends told him about the Tosa Baseball League (TBL).

"And since I was doing pretty good in softball, I thought I might as well tryout in the Tosa Baseball League. Then I got put on the Sidewinders and I really liked my coach and from there I started doing more and more baseball."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Jeff Mason was part of Tosa East's 1-2 pitching punch with senior Aaron Plaistad

So why did Mason stick with baseball?

"It's not contact. I played football for a bit, but I found that I'm not a contact sport kind of guy," he said. "I was also pretty good at it (baseball). There was a rough patch of questioning myself further. It's one of the few sports that I really still do.

"Doing baseball was the best way to stay active. It's a really fun sport to get into. Once you know all the things about it, it's easy to stay with it."

Mason has plenty of weapons to call on in his pitching arsenal.

"I try to be a pretty accurate pitcher," he said. "I try to work with the fastball the most. I also have a slider that I use and that seems to come in handy a lot; and a curve ball. But I mainly stick with the slider. It has a little more power. I was also trying to work in the knuckleball (laughs)."

Jeff also felt the mental part of his game is important to his success.

"If we're in a game where I'm not doing well, I can still pitch (effectively)," he said. "I have a lot of confidence going out to the mound and just throwing strikes. It doesn't matter what situation I'm in, I have the same mindset. If I don't get a call, I wouldn't protest it quite as much. It's easy for me if I start off poorly to get back on track."

Schwichtenberg pointed out Mason's role for the Red Raiders this season.

"He is one of our two aces along with Aaron Plaisted," Schwichtenberg said. "He's a guy when we set up the conference games we made sure when we faced some of the better teams when he pitched and he kept us in every game. He had a 0.64 ERA in conference games. He's our guy who is our ace and that's his big role on the mound."

Schwichtenberg likes Mason's attitude on the mound.

"He attacks hitters," he said. "He doesn't get behind. Everything he throws moves. Guys don't square up the ball against him. He wants the baseball."

But Jeff is more than just a good pitcher to the Red Raiders. He also brings a big bat to the middle of the order.

"In the lineup, he has hit anywhere from third through fifth for us," Schwichtenberg said. "He's right in the heart of the lineup. He is starting to get hot again. Near the middle of the year he was starting to wear down a little bit, but he got hot again (at the end of the year).

" As a hitter he drives the baseball. He hits basically to the left side, he ropes everything. Just being able to keep the ball on a line, he finds gaps. He's been able to do a lot lately, where earlier in the year he was hitting balls right at people."

He was a really quiet kid. But when he went to the mound, he was a completely different kid. He looked like he was in control. Nothing really bothered him being on varsity. It was really cool to see that. He was ready to compete right away.”

--- Coach Pete Schwichtenberg

Mason talked about his hitting style.

"I can drive the ball pretty far," the 6-foot, 1 inch 165-punder said. "I'm usually pretty aggressive at the plate. even if it's pretty early in the count I will still go for it. Sometimes it comes back to bite me a little bit (laughs). Most of the time that's (being aggressive) a strength."

When he's batting, Mason doesn't try to think like a pitcher. He's gotten in trouble that way.

"It's difficult. I tried to do that a little bit, but I found that didn't work," he said. "I'm not very good at guessing what pitch is going to come. So I just try to put myself in the position as a hitter and not try to put myself in a position of what the pitcher's thinking."

Early in the season, the Red Raiders used Jeff in the field.

"He plays some third and second for us," Schwichtenberg said. "Lately we've been keeping him as DH so we can keep his arm as fresh as we can, especially in the playoffs if we would need him in a game later. He played second a lot more last year, but he's been at third more this year."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Jeff Mason hit in the middle of the Red Raiders' batting order, leading the team in RBIs and doubles.

With another year to go next week, both Schwichtenberg and Mason know he has things to work on.

"I want to get more first-pitch strikes and give up less walks," Jeff said. "Basically become more accurate. Since I have the speed on a fastball I just need to get it in the strike zone more and be more aggressive that way.

"As a hitter I would definitely like to work on off-speed pitches, being able to hit curve balls. I'm mainly a pull hitter, but I've done a lot of work that if I need to go opposite field if I can. But for the most part I'm still a pull hitter."

Schwichtenberg sees a change in position for Mason next year.

"Defensively, we may have him at first, working on some things footwork wise," he said. "His plate work needs some consistency. When he squares up, he hits the ball harder than anyone we've got. Hopefully that consistency will carry throughout the whole year.

"On the mound, he needs to just keep doing what he's doing. Just pound the strike zone. They don't square the ball up against him a lot."

Schwichtenberg pointed out that Mason will be a captain next year, but he has already been doing some leadership duties this past year.

"During the off-season he was leading a ton of things like letting people know what we were doing," Schwichtenberg said. "He definitely leads by example, but he's becoming more vocal as well. He's going to be one of our captains next year. He's already shown that now - especially when we were going through some of the tougher times. He's the guy that would speak up and say let's get things back together."

Mason looks forward to the responsibility next year.

"It's a pretty big deal like I think back to when I was a freshman and people needed some guidance," he recalled. "So if I can help freshman and the younger players get into baseball more and also develop their confidence when they're out on the field I think I would succeed as captain.

"I try to say what needs to be said. If we're in a bad situation and the team is down on each other, it is important to let them know they are down on each other and we have to snap out of that."

Although the Red Raiders had a disappointing season (7-23), winning two Greater Metro Conference games, they won three of their final four games, won the regional title and lost to Marquette, 5-2, in the sectional semi-final.

Mason was 2-2 with a 1.35 ERA overall in 41.1 innings, but he was outstanding in GMC play with a 0.64 ERA, which earned him honorable mention honors. He was second-team as a sophomore.  At the plate, he hit .256 with a team-leading 7 doubles and 15 RBIs.


QUESTIONS FOR JEFF MASON

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Chinese
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  One Republic, Rock/Pop
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Good Will Hunting,' Action & Drama.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Whose Line Is It Anyway?'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  English
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Egg Harbor, Door County
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Enjoys creative writing
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Marquette, Oak Creek
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Beating Brookfield East, 3-1, for the only GMC win in his sophomore year.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend college, major in Creative Writing and play baseball.

















FOR TOSA WEST’S TYLER SCHACKMUTH THE TEAM IS ALWAYS FIRST

FOR WEST'S TYLER SCHACKMUTH
THE TEAM ALWAYS COMES FIRST




First-year head Coach Dave Belknapp needed a backup catcher at Wauwatosa West this season, but had no one to turn to - until senior Tyler Schackmuth stepped forth in the off-season.

Belknapp can't stress enough how much Schackmuth's move behind the plate has helped the Trojans.

"I can't emphasize enough his transition to catcher - the very first conversation was at an open gym," he recalled. "We were going over the team and where we saw guys catching. Besides Logan (Scharf), we have a couple of young guys but I didn't see as freshman doing the job and instantly he said 'I'd be happy to go back there.' And from that day on - and that's another tribute to him - even at this point in the season - he's still looking to improve.

"He's a very athletic kid," Belknapp said. "He's played volleyball and he was versatile. He played a lot of positions in Jr. Trojans. This season for us he was a lifesaver, going behind the plate. It was very unselfish of him. I don't think he had caught since 7th or 8th grade. And he's done a fantastic job and helped out at a position where we had very little depth."

When starting catcher Logan Scharf goes out to the mound, Schackmuth moves from his regular left field spot to behind the plate.

Tyler credits Trojans former multi-sport star Zack Veit with helping him make the transition.

"Coach Veit caught when he was a senior, and taught me the ropes pretty well. Catching is fun. You can control the game, control the pace of the game, which pitch is called. Plus I can throw people out."

Schackmuth recently talked about his progress behind the plate.

"Giving my all is my strong point," he said. "I'm not exactly technically sound, not having been playing (catcher) long. Selecting a pitch for the appropriate count; I think I've come along way. As the season has gone on I'm more comfortable with it. I call games, but the pitcher has the right to shake it off."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Tyler Schackmuth was named second team Woodland West catcher this week despite not having played the position since 7th grade.

Looking back, Schackmuth started off his baseball career with tee-ball, then advanced to the Tosa Baseball League and the Northwest Little League, before joining a travel team with the Jr. Trojans.

"My dad (Adam) was a pretty good player in high school. He pushed me, took me to batting cage," Tyler recalled, explaining why he stayed with baseball. "I enjoyed the nuances that the average person wouldn't see - the first and third situation. Guy on third less than one out, hitting him over, hitting him in. The little things."

Belknapp remembers as far back as seeing Tyler in 6th grade, along with 3-4 of his current teammates.

"They're still playing here, a good group," Belknapp said. "But Tyler is the ultimate team player. He'll play where you want him to play. He'll bat wherever you want to use him. He's been leading off.

"We put him in the lead-off spot. He's very consistent in putting balls in play, very consistent in hitting line drives. He is a very good lead-off hitter because he understands his role - he puts the ball in play and gets things going. He's got good speed and he's done a great job with that."

Belknapp couldn't say enough positive things about how Schackmuth goes about his job at the plate.

"He takes what's there, he doesn't force it," he said. "He makes good solid contact. He can be aggressive. When he sees his pitch, he jumps on it.

"But the other attribute that makes him a good lead-off hitter is he won't chase out of the strike zone. He knows what he can do. He's not a power hitter, but a guy who is going to drive it to the gap; put a good swing on the ball, hit line drives, hard ground balls, hit pitches in the strike zone."

“He is the proto-typical leader by example. He goes out there and does his job. He’s very unselfish, positive all the time. He will pick other guys up. He is never concerned with himself.”

--- Coach Dave Belknapp

Tyler knows his strengths as a hitter.

"I try and hit line drives up the middle, to the right side of the field actually," he said. It's what I excel at. Situational hitting too. It's a chance to score runs for your team."

Schackmuth was on the JV as a freshman, then as a sophomore he played half a year on varsity, getting in some games as a pitcher. Because of some injuries he played left field in a playoff game, but he also contributed as a pinch-runner.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Tyler batted .333, with a .405 OBP and finished second on the team in runs (14) from his lead-off spot. He also won a game in relief.

With all the emphasis on when Tyler stepped up behind the plate, his main position has been left field.

"I played left since all through my junior leagues. I'm pretty comfortable out there," he said. "I focus on keeping my head in the game, knowing the situation. I pride myself on being a student of the game, knowing where the runners are, if the ball is hit to me what am I doing with it.

"I would say that's really my strength. I don't have the strongest arm and I'm not the fastest, but I know what you have to do with the ball when you get it. Take advantage of it. It's fun. Especially throwing people out."

Belknapp talked positively about Tyler's outfield play.

"He gets a jump on the ball, he's a good athlete with very good speed," he said. "He can run balls down. He has a nice arm, about average. He's very accurate. In left field you are not called on to make some of those moves like in centerfield. He just puts it on target."

Belknapp was asked what stood out the most about Tyler and he didn't hesitate.

"His smarts - his baseball instincts are something that grows with you every year you play," he said. "So he has the experience there. It's a whole other thing that he will have the presence of mind to apply it in different game situations.

"What he thinks about what he goes through in the outfield; when he thinks about his responsibilities as a catcher. He is very cerebral. He knows the game and he understands what situations call for. Catcher has to be the hardest position to play. Here in his senior season he's done a great job with it."

Belknapp pointed about Schackmuth's leadership skills.

"He is the proto-typical leader by example," he said. "He goes out there and does his job. He's very unselfish, positive all the time. He will pick other guys up. He is never concerned with himself.

"He's the guy - watch him play, watch how he prepares. You will do well if you do what Tyler does from game to game. He is just very well prepared."

Not surprisingly, Tyler is quick to credit someone else when asked about the team's leadership - Coach Veit.

"Our coach Veit was a great leader here and really inspirational in what a team should look like," he said. "He had senior leadership and everyone is on the same page and stuff. We have about 50 per cent seniors on the team and we're good as being one as a team.

"Leadership is part of being a good teammate more than being a captain. Someone has a bad at bat or made an error in the field, I tell them 'You got the next one.'

"On our baseball team it's a lot of fun coming out here every single day, playing your hearts out and winning close games. It's a lot of fun."

And Schackmuth is one of the main reasons for it.


QUESTIONS FOR TYLER SCHACKMUTH

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Cheese Cake Factory's Crispy Chicken Costoletta
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Rap & Country Music.
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Sand Lot.' Comedies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  The Office.
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Family Cottage in Townsend County.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch Netflix.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Wauwatosa East.
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  First game this season the Trojans defeated Cudahy, 2-1, with a walk-off hit.     
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and study Actuarial Science.

















BROOKFIELD EAST’S DANNY BUTLER – A THINKING MAN’S PITCHER

BROOKFIELD EAST'S DANNY BUTLER A THINKING MAN'S PITCHER



Brookfield East junior Danny Butler likes the cerebral part of the game of baseball. That's why he stuck with it in his younger years.

"Some people say it's a slow game," the Spartans pitcher-shortstop said the other day. "I look at it as more strategic. How you play it. It always keeps me engaged."

Butler then explained his thought process as a pitcher and a shortstop.

"What I like best - I like making the batters look funny, I guess," he said smiling. "You always like changing your speeds and your direction of the ball. If they're not ready for the ball, they will be way out front and I've seen some pretty funny swings."

He likes having his head in the game as a shortstop also.

"I like shortstop - the amount of (responsibility). You have to know what's happening every play," he said. "You have to know wherever the ball's hit, where to go, who to throw to. Knowing the situation, being unselfish all along. Not many things come as a surprise. I'm not afraid to get dirty. diving is fun and enjoyable."

First-year coach at East, Steve Bartlein, talked about Butler's approach when pitching.

"Being competitive beyond any pitch he throws - when he is on the mound he can throw any one of his pitches to get guys out," he said. "He doesn't try too much. He doesn't try to take over the game himself. He lets his teammates work by letting the batters put the ball in play. He's very confidence in his pitches. He is very competitive and can throw them on any count."

Butler talked about his pitching.

"My pitching strength is my location and the number of pitches I can throw," he said. "In a game I have a fastball, curveball, sinker, change, knuckle and a two-seam. On the side, I'm working on the same thing as a curve ball, but I throw it from a 3/4 quarter arm angle outside so it kind of comes sideways so it's kind of looks like a slider."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Danny Butler is the Spartans' lead-off batter, batting .311.

Bartlein is also pleased with Butler's defense.

"At shortstop and at second - wrap them together - there are three and four plays that stand out with runners and second and third (so far this year)," he said. " A guy hit a line drive up the middle and he (Butler) makes a diving catch.

"Another batter hits a ground ball up the middle, he backhands it and throws the runner out. In big situations too. Being confident, being able to focus pitch by pitch in the field helps us as a team and I think it's his biggest attribute defensively."

Butler, who earned honorable mention All-Greater Metro Conference as a pitcher as a sophomore, talked about how his success helped his confidence this year.

"I didn't realize how much playing time I would do. I was kind of new," he said. "But it was different than I expected," he said. "Seeing what I could do last year and knowing I could improve, it really helped out my mind set this year. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to do better. I wanted to have a pretty good year."

Bartlein added his thoughts on Danny's early success.

"To be in a conference as competitive as it is and to be an underclassman and receive such an honor, has to boost his confidence and I think that's what it did for him; coming back and feeling he can do it in this conference. "

Butler talked about his thought process with a bat in his hand this season.

"I like to go after the first pitch. I'm aggressive" he said. "Most high school pitchers start you out with a fastball somewhere in the strike zone. I like to jump at the first pitch.

With two strikes I'm going to choke up a little bit, shorten up, take a step back in the box. Anything that's remotely close, I will just try and get a bat on it."

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 knew what the teachers would say about him. One of the teachers would rave about him in class. Athletically, his volleyball coach, Tim Owen, spoke highly of him as an athlete and as a competitor. So before I saw him compete, people told me he was a competitor.”

--- Coach Steve Barlein

Butler also enjoys batting with runners on base.

"Yeah, it's a good feeling," he said. "I try to hit it in the gap with guys on base. If we're hitting, I'm feeling pretty good because the pitcher's not very happy giving up hit after hit. It takes a little pressure off me but still I'm just looking for the pitch to drive."

Bartlein is pleased with Danny's hitting approach.

"Being our lead-off hitter, he not only starts the game but they're the ones coming up in the sixth and seventh inning in some key situations," he said. "He'll have a big at bat, whether he has to fight off pitches, or come through with a hit or sac fly. He give us competitive at bats; not an easy out."

Bartlein knows that Butler still can get better down the road.

"Baseball is one of these sports where you look to how do you want to advance yourself," Bartlein said. "Fundamentally, there is always fine tuning. An area he can work on is fine tuning mechanics - at the plate, in the field and on the mound. He can improve extra velocity, extra bat speed.

"As he's growing, strength is another thing he can work on. That's one of the areas he can improve on in the off-season as he's developing as an athlete. How is he is going about his business outside of his sport. Maintaining good friendships and working hard continuing to lead in other sports he can develop these competitive edges."

Bartlein initially saw Butler from the opposing sideline, as he was an assistant coach with the cross-town rival Brookfield Central Lancers.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Danny Butler has 6 pitches he uses to compile a 0.63 ERA, 3 wins & a save.

"First time I legitimately watched him play was in an open gym this past year in February," Bartlein said. "We started to do some open gyms and the parents ran them. I came and watched him throw off the mound a little bit. That was the first time I legitimately saw him play."

But Bartlein was well aware of Butler because Steve taught at East.

"I would see him in the hallways and how he interacted with his friends," he said. "I knew what the teachers would say about him. One of the teachers would rave about him in class. Athletically, his volleyball coach, Tim Owen, spoke highly of him as an athlete and as a competitor. So before I saw him compete, people told me he was a competitor."

Butler impressed Bartlein early in the year with his attitude in a rain-soaked game.

"Our first game we played against Shorewood, it was down-pouring the whole game. But he's not one for excuses," he said. "He couldn't grip the ball. He didn't use any excuses. He just went out there and competed in that game and kept us in it. That when I knew he was a special ballplayer, a special competitor."

Leadership is another important area a team's top athlete's must be efficient at.

"Danny is our junior captain," he said. "I think that his peers look at him has a kind of quiet leader. He definitely does step up and say things when necessary. He will chose when to step up and motivate his team. When he does, it's insightful and the guys are receptive to him."

Seniors Cole Vento and Sam Gauger are the other two captains Butler pointed out as he was asked about his approach as a captain.

"It's a responsibility. I lead by example," he said. "Some days if you're not having the best game, you can't drop your head and pout about it. The younger guys are looking up to you. You work through it, whatever it is. Try and get better.

"One of sophomores was pitching the other day and I could tell he was getting a little excited. He was rushing his motion. So I went up and talked to him and said 'Hey, slow it down. Stay calm. Do your normal stuff.' He goes back and ends the inning."

Bartlein talked about Butler's leadership skills.

"Where Danny is a quiet personality, he thrives in 1-on-1 situations. The guys are very responsive to any critique. It's not Danny's niche to be the rah-rah vocal guy. He's got a lot of insightful things to pass on and say. That's an area I would like to help him grow in."


QUESTIONS FOR DANNY BUTLER

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Mom's ribs and cheesy hash browns
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Anything but Country Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Red Tails.'  World War II movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Simpsons.
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  San Francisco.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Check my phone, play videos, watch movies.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Brookfield Central.
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Freshman year, first pitch he threw was a homer. Then had a 1-2-3 inning.      
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Would like to go into aviation to be a commercial or private airlines pilot.