Shorewood - Baseball coach Tom Meyer would have liked to have had his team at full-strength when it took on Cedarburg on July 19 in a WIAA regional final game, but the 2-0, season-ending defeat did nothing to diminish the accomplishments of the Greyhounds 10-18 season.
"We didn't have any of our starting outfielders available for the game, so we had to use three new ones, including two freshmen," Meyer said. "Two were out with medical issues (R.J. Adams and Alex McMurtry) while our best one, Elliott Kucharczyk, had some academic work he had to get done for Yale (University)."
Meyer praised the efforts of replacements senior Marshal Mikolajczak and freshmen Jacob Goldberg and Taylor Dennis.
"We didn't want to make any excuses," Meyer said. "The other boys stepped up and played as hard as they could. They didn't make any defensive mistakes."
He also noted that junior ace Ian Roudebush had one of his best pitching games of the season in the defeat.
Beat state-qualifier Bay
Cedarburg went on to lose to host Whitefish Bay in the WIAA sectional final on Saturday. Bay, which Shorewood beat, 11-1, for its last win two weeks ago on the Greyhounds' senior night, advanced to this week's WIAA state tournament.
That victory represented a great deal of how far the program advanced this season, Meyer said.
"We really stepped up and worked hard that night," Meyer said. "We played a lot of kids and had a lot of fun with it. Maybe we even helped the Bay program (regain its focus).
"Now we need to be able to do something like that on a consistent basis."
The Greyhounds had a three-game winning streak early in the year and a stretch where they won four out of seven. Also included in the campaign were doubleheader sweeps of St. Francis and Pewaukee.
The season did end on a five-game losing streak, but it did include a wild 18-14 loss to powerhouse Nicolet in which Shorewood fell behind 8-0, only to take a 12-8 lead before falling. Shorewood finished third in the Woodland Blue Division at 8-10.
The junior varsity, with a great many of its top players, including freshman catcher Cooper Lang, up on the varsity, was still competitive at 6-16.
League honors for Gruber
A further sign of the Greyhounds' new-found respectability included a major coup at the Woodland Conference All-League meetings. Senior shortstop Declan Gruber not only made first-team Woodland Conference Blue Division, but was good enough to make first-team All-League overall when the coaches combined the results of both the Blue and the Black Divisions.
The All-Academic selection and team MVP hit .437 (45 hits in 103 at-bats) with nine doubles, 27 runs scored and 21 RBI.
"He was just a leader in every way that's possible," Meyer said.
A special part of the senior class this season was Jenny Vrobel, a member of the state qualifying cross country team last fall, who played on the junior varsity part of the summer before being brought up to the varsity as a courtesy runner in the second half of the season.
"She was a four-sport athlete all four years," said Meyer. "Just a great young lady who fit in very well on the team."
Other seniors included Adams, Charlie Dixon, Evan Ludwig, Mikolajczak and Daniel Zens.
"They (the seniors) definitely left the program better than when they found it," Meyer said. "You couldn't ask for anything more than that."
Building for the future
The future is bright, added Meyer, noting that there are good young arms in the program that should help keep the team competitive. He would like to see more steps taken in that direction, however.
"Now if the families are willing to make a little more a commitment," he said. "Schedule their summer vacations around baseball. It would not only be supporting the baseball program, but it would also help develop a bigger family at the school, a baseball family that really takes pride in the program.
"It'll take some time, but we are hanging in there."
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