Demons attempting third consecutive trip to state tournament

Can the Demons recreate the magic of 2016 this spring? (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

It’s easy to look at a high school baseball team winning a state title and following it up with another state appearance and exhale, “Wow!”

Bystanders who have had the pleasure of watching the Burlington varsity baseball team in 2016 and 2017 have enjoyed this luxury.

Thanks to dominant, front-end pitching and straight mashing from just about every spot in the batting lineup, the Demons have put together a two-year stretch of more than 40 wins and two Southern Lakes Conference championships.

Fending off the likes of Waterford, Wilmot and Westosha Central in a competitive SLC, Burlington leaned on 2017 Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area Player of the Year Zach Campbell, along with the dangerous sticks provided by the meat of the order.

Dale Damon, Aaron Sturdevant, Campbell and Jacob Lindemann combined to account for more than 50 percent of the team’s hits and RBIs.

Furthermore, Campbell was responsible for nearly one-third of the pitchers’ innings and won six games for the 21-5 Demons.

While the middle of the order, namely consistent production, will be a major question mark this spring, head coach Scott Staude, who enters his 20th season, is excited to have pitching depth including the improved development of senior Drew Pesick and juniors Trey Krause and Trent Turzenski.

“We have a lot of pitchers which is always a good thing in high school baseball,” Staude said. “I would say our rotation would be Krause, Turzenski, (Derek) Koenen, Jason Adams, and Pesick and (Riley) Nelson in the bullpen.”

“Michael Rozell and Danny Peterson also have a chance to get some innings for us. This team has a chance to be really good, but we will need to find some offense in the middle of the order. Losing Damon, Campbell, Lindemann, and Sturdevant is a lot of run production from last year. Hopefully we will continue to get better and gain confidence as the year goes on.”

 

A quick study

Relegated to a reserve role and kept in the bullpen most of last season, Krause, a crafty left-hander that features a winding fastball and a 12-to-6 curve, came alive on the biggest stage in 2017.

He dominated favored Kenosha Indian Trail in the sectional semifinal, helping to complete a three-start run where he didn’t allow an earned run.

With the continued maturation gained at an elite prospect camp last summer, Krause, who went 7-1 with a 1.59 earned-run average in 35 innings as a sophomore, has received Division 1 college baseball interest from several Horizon League and Big Ten schools.

“I’ve gotten stronger in the weight room and have worked out with my travel team in the winter months,” Krause said.

Krause’s ability to control the mental side of the game on the mound is second to none, as the pressure never seems to rattle the staff ace.

Krause’s lone setback last year was a sub-par performance in a state quarterfinal in Appleton.

The sophomore never quite found his rhythm, and control issues left too many pitches over the plate. Krause was tagged for seven earned runs in a only a few innings, and the Demons’ quest at back-to-back titles was abruptly halted.

But with the lefty in tow as the starter, Pesick and Turzenski bring experience, along with Koenen and fresh face Jason Adams, a junior.

Nelson also saw time on the mound last year.

“Our strengths are our pitching depth and defense,” Staude said. “But we must replace a talented senior group and need offensive consistency.”

 

Returning experience

With several big boppers gone, senior infielder Grant Tully will be expected to help lead the attack.

The shortstop is a two-time letter-winner and hit .303 last year.

Second baseman Riley Palmquist is the team’s leading returning hitter (.342), while Koenen, an outfielder, hit at a .317 clip.

Krause is the fourth and final player from last year that hit above .300.

Other key returning letter-winners include senior outfielder Joe Tully and junior catcher and infielder Tucker Strommen.

Adams heads the class of newcomers, as both Grant Tully and assistant coach Brian Horn have lauded the right-hander’s pitching abilities.

Seniors Bryce Morris (IF) and Zach Lipecki (OF) and sophomore catcher Christian Brenner round out the new faces.

Along with assistant Tom Krause, pitching guru Bob Lee and David Sheffer, Staude and the Demons are poised for another title run.

At 11-3 in the SLC last year, the Demons must contend with an always-solid Waterford squad along with a dangerous Wilmot team that features perhaps the best pitcher in Kyle Gendron and sluggers Gunnar and Tanner Peterson.

Waterford senior Aaron Chapman is a first team all-conference pick and the 2017 All-Area Athlete of the Year.

Finally, Elkhorn is coming off a sectional appearance.

“The goal is to win conference,” Staude said. “We want to go deep in the playoffs.”

“We need to find hitters in the middle of the lineup to replace some key members of last year’s team.”

Burlington opens with a scrimmage against cross-town foe Catholic Central Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Ginger Beaumont Field.

 

Schedule

(HOME GAMES CAPS)

March – 28: CATHOLIC CENTRAL. April – 3: at Delavan-Darien. 5: DELAVAN-DARIEN. 9: RACINE CASE. 10: at Lake Geneva Badger. 12: BADGER. 13: at Kenosha Tremper. 17: at Elkhorn. 19: ELKHORN. 21: JANESVILLE CRAIG. 23: at Oconomowoc. 24: WESTOSHA CENTRAL. 26: at Westosha Central. 27-28: Racine County Showcase (Beaumont Field and Burlington High School). May – 1: at Union Grove. 3: UNION GROVE. 4: KENOSHA BRADFORD. 8: WATERFORD. 10: at Waterford. 12: Sun Prairie, Waunakee DOUBLEHEADER at Sun Prairie High School. 15: at Wilmot. 17: WILMOT. 18: at Indian Trail. 22: at Catholic Memorial. 26: vs. Hartford at UW-Whitewater.

 

Roster

Zach Lipecki, Derek Koenen, Joe Tully, Grant Tully, Bryce Morris, Drew Pesick, Riley Palmquist, Jason Adams, Christian Brenner, Trey Krause, Tucker Strommen, Daniel Peterson, Michael Rozell, Trent Turzenski, Dalton Damon.

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