Seven FHS varsity baseball players earn All-TVC kudos
by Coach Gordon Culver
The Frankenmuth varsity baseball team wrapped up its 2016 season by nearly winning the Tri-Valley Conference East Division and securing a MHSAA Division 2 District title. Following is the season review and a list of the players who earned post-season honors: All-TVC First team - Brady Wood, infield and Jack Tagget, pitcher; All-TVC Second team - Randy Khan, infield and Danny Mills, catcher;
All-TVC Honorable mention - Grant Reene, Josh Szczepanski and Jared Lachman; Academic All-District - Jack Tagget, Jakob Baarck and Grant Reene; All-District - Jack Tagget, pitcher, Brady Wood, infield, Josh Szczepanski, outfield and Grant Reene, first base. Team accomplishments - 2nd place TVC East 11-2-1 and District Champions (first since 2013). Lost in regionals to Linden in extra innings. Linden lost to Holland Christian 8-5 in the State Championship game.
Grant Reene: (senior and two year starter) Grant did an outstanding job as our starting first baseman. He has an uncanny ability to scoop balls out of the dirt and saved our infield on many occasions this season. Grant also had an outstanding year at the plate. In a three week stretch toward the end of the season Grant hit well over .500. He was such a defensive asset this season that several parents got together and gave him a gold glove award for making our defense that much better.
Brady Wood: (senior and three year starter) Brady has had an outstanding career and will go down as one of the best infielders in FHS baseball history. Brady broke many records over his career including career hits, career doubles, career stolen bases and doubles in a season this year to go along with his single season stolen base record from his freshman year. He is also number three for RBI’s in a season and number two for hits in a season. Brady’s been an anchor on defense for the previous two years and has continued to be a staple of this season’s defense success. Brady will be going to Adrian College to compete for a position with the Bulldogs and their highly successful program.
Connor Maurer: (senior starter) Connor earned his starting spot through a lot of hard work this season. He switched from catcher to outfield and spent hours on the tee this winter and spring perfecting his swing. He was a big boost for our offense from the middle of the line-up and solidified our outfield with solid range.
Randy Khan: (senior starter) Randy moved all over the place this season as he also used hard work to find success and a starting position. Randy started the season at second base and at the bottom of the line-up, but as he grew more confident at the plate got moved up to the two spot. He was a great weapon as he hits the ball well to all parts of the field, has speed and bunts well. Defensively he eventually transitioned to third for many of the season’s final games and did a solid job of adjusting to the reaction speed required at that position.
Jared Lachman: (senior starting pitcher) Jared stepped up and filled a much needed spot in our pitching roster. Jared had an outstanding season from the hill, throwing a no hitter against Ithaca and combining with Rezmer for a second no-hitter against Bridgeport at Districts. He threw outstanding in the TVC beating Millington’s ace and pitching well against Birch Run, Garber and North Branch keeping us in a position to win if the offense could have got a timely hit he very well could have been 8-0.
Jared Davis: (junior starter) Jared transitioned to second base for this season and did a fantastic job. He was the last piece of the infield puzzle and once he got comfortable there our defense was stellar. Jared moved up and down the line-up as he adjusted to varsity pitching and eventually found a home in the middle hitting a respectable .293. Jared also developed into a solid option on the mound for us, throwing several games and picking up a win and a save.
Grant Leach: (senior and two year varsity player) Grant was one of the hardest working players we had this season both during and before the season. Grant always came to with a positive attitude and a great work ethic and it paid off for him both defensively at third and offensively where he hit a solid .286.
Josh Szczepanski: (senior and two year starter) Josh has become a staple in our outfield roaming center field with his incredible speed as well as at the plate hitting .412 from the lead off position. Once on base Josh used his speed to steal and score often. It’s been nice to have a guy in the lead off spot that you know is going to get on half the time and can steal bases on the best catchers we face.
Zach Freier: (sophomore starter) Zach earned himself a spot this year due to his speed and stayed with us because of his defense and pitching. Zach started in right for us and cooled down a bit at the plate after starting the season batting over .400. He also came along as a pitcher this year. After struggling in his first outing, he settled in and became a trusted arm out. His big game came against Beal City this season where he held the number seven ranked Aggies to just three hits and two runs on his way to the win. Zach ended the season with a 2-1 record in five appearances.
Jack Tagget: (senior and four year starter) Jack has been a fierce competitor over the last four years and has ruined many batting averages in the TVC. He goes out as one of the best Eagle pitchers of all time and an outstanding offensive player. This season Jack broke the career RBI, career wins, career ERA, and the career strike outs records. He also ends up fifth in RBI’s in a season and 5th in doubles in a season. This adds to his feats from previous years as the number two and number three pitcher in wins in a season and number five for single season ERA. Jack has been our number one pitcher for the past three seasons, a top hitter for the past four seasons and is the charismatic voice that has gotten our guys fired up game after game.
Danny Mills: (junior starter) Was new to our program this season and has developed into an outstanding defensive catcher. Danny absorbed everything we taught him this season and put it to use immediately on the field. Danny has an exceptionally strong arm and our stolen bases were way down this season as the opposition wouldn’t attempt the steal. Danny also swings a strong bat and while his .277 average doesn’t show it, he was a huge part of our offense hitting in the five spot and driving home 20 RBI’s.
Jacob Berg: (senior and two year varsity player) Unfortunately Jacob suffered a knee injury prior to the start of the season and was injured for over half the season. He was eager to get going once he got cleared and became a reliable pitcher for us. He ended up picking up three solid wins, almost no hitting Reese, and picked up a huge save against Millington throwing the sixth and seventh innings to preserve a 2-0 lead against a very good Cardinal squad.
Jakob Baarck: (senior and one year varsity player) Jakob Baarck decided to come play baseball this season after taking a several year break. It took some work to get him back to game speed, but he became an important part of our offense as a runner and used his quick wit to keep the guys focused and having fun.
Garrett Rezmer: (sophomore starting pitcher) Garrett is a strong and tall lefty sophomore that came up to help fill out some needed positions for us. Garrett struggled a little with injury this season and that kept him from finding consistency in his game, but threw well earning one of his three wins in Reese with a no hitter, then combining with Lachman for a second at Districts.
Connor Campbell: (freshman) Connor came up for our Bridgeport game, then finished the last two weeks of the season with us. Connor is a hard throwing righty that had some success on the mound in the innings he saw and did a nice job using his speed to motor around the bases for us. Connor has a lot of athletic ability and I look forward to seeing what he will do in an Eagle uniform in the years to come.
Chandler Lail: (senior and two year varsity player) Chandler was a mainstay on the mound early in the season as he was one of the few pitchers that could consistently throw strikes. Because of that accuracy, he threw the third most innings of our pitchers including several against number five Kenowa Hills and picked up wins against Kearsley and Chesaning.
This season was a testament to the will of this senior class. Spring sports are tough for seniors with all the distractions of early exams, graduation, not being in school, jobs and all the other things that come with your last month of high school. Many senior heavy teams have fallen to those distractions and didn’t reach their goals. With the struggles that we had early on, it would have been easy for this group to fall victim to those distractions, but we talked often about playing for the guys you’ve been teammates with for 10 years, playing for the pride for doing your best, playing your hardest because for many it’s the last time you’ll get to put on an athletic uniform and they responded big time. They cut our unearned runs from 40 in the first half of the season, to 10 in the second and going on a 18-6-1 run in the month of March after starting 4-6.
It was a lot of fun to see what they could do and I’m exceptionally pleased with how they came out day after day and put everything on the field and had fun while they did it. That’s the right way to play the game and what every coach wants to see from their players.
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