T-town Baseball Team Ready for State Tourney Run

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Published on May 30 2013 1:12 pm
Last Updated on May 30 2013 2:39 pm
Written by Millie Lange

The definition of fundamental baseball is . . . to teach baseball skills intensely and positively so that each player progresses toward defined goals. In other words, that’s Teutopolis High School baseball.

The Wooden Shoes are on their way to the Class 2A State Tournament for the third time in four years. Coach Justin Fleener’s team captured the rain-delayed Sauget Super-Sectional by defeating Carlyle 5-2 and will now face Lisle at 3 p.m. Friday at Dozer Park in Peoria.

“We’ve done a good job of playing fundamental baseball this year,” said Coach Fleener when talking about how his team has been successful this season. “We’ve put the bat on the ball, played solid defense and have solid pitching.”
The Wooden Shoes are 29-3 on the season and Fleener talked about each of his starters.

“Jared Waldhoff is a good leadoff hitter and has good speed. I think he’s led us in hitting most of the year. Good offensive weapon, gets on base and has the ability to steal bases. He actually is tied with Bobby Wenthe in home runs with six. He’s just the ideal leadoff hitter.

“Chase Wendling plays centerfield and is a very good centerfielder. He has great range and a great arm. He played some centerfield a couple years ago at state. We had to shuffle the lineup around and he stepped in then. He’s hit the ball well. The past few weeks he’s had a couple of big at bats.

“Bobby Wenthe, a junior, plays right field. Has a lot of pop in his bat. He looks to drive the ball. He does a good job when he needs to make contact with two strikes. He had the three RBI single at Robinson against Marshall in the championship game. He kind of got us going against Flora.

“Kyle Pruemer is the ideal four batter. He makes good adjustments with two strikes. He had some good hits with two strikes. A very good pitcher. He pitched two years ago in the semifinal game at state. He gave us four or five strong innings in there. He stepped up as a sophomore. He has continued to lead us on the mound. He and Jared have been a very good team.

“Alex Goldstein is a junior catcher. He’s done a good job behind the plate. Good arm. Alex drives the ball well. Good addition behind Kyle. They can’t pitch around him because he’s  a dangerous hitter. He has good wheels for a catcher. He was hindered the last part of the season with a hamstring injury.

“Darren Probst is our designated hitter and plays first base when Kyle pitches. A junior, he  has had a real good year stepping in the varsity. Very good power. He’s had a couple grand slams this year. He can drive the ball.

“Derek Smith plays third base and is a senior. He has a very good glove and strong arm. He made a nice line drive on a throw. Good contact hitter, drives the ball to the right field gap real well. He has driven in runs for us. Puts the bat on the ball.

“Reed Hardiek, typical second baseman. Puts the bat on the ball and plays a solid defensive second base. He was called upon to do some catching also. He could play many different positions. He gets things going at the bottom part of the lineup.

“Cody Will plays shortstop. Ideal person who puts the bat on the ball. He can bunt and can run. Has come up with a couple big RBI hits.

“Michael Gillespie does pinch-hitting. He has a high average. Does a good job and Ryan Ruholl has pitched some this year. He could be looked upon to go to the bullpen when needed.”

This will be the ninth overall appearance at state. The Shoes went in 1986-87 and 1996-97 in Class 1A and did not place. Their first top finish was second in 1998-99. They took third in 1999-2000 and again did not place in 2003-04. In 2004-05, their last in 1A, they took third. Then in 2009-10 and 2010-11, they won state championships. What are Coach Fleener and the Shoes looking for this time around?

“We’re looking to win that rascal,” said Fleener. “We want to represent our community well and have a successful trip. We want to continue to play good baseball. We’ve hit the ball well and had great pitching performances and the defense has been right there. We just want to continue to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

Pleasant Plains will meet Eureka at 5:30 p.m. in the second game Friday. The winners advance to the state title game Saturday at 5:30 p.m. while the losers will square off for third place at 3 p.m.