West De Pere captured the Division 2 state baseball title last season and coach Joe Rukamp will be relying heavily on two standout players to help the team go all the way again.
With 10 seniors leading the way, Rukamp's team was 21-5 last season. Expectations are high for the Phantoms once again.
Key players include returning outfielder Nick Pierre and designated hitter Brent Jansen, who is also a first baseman.
Pierre had a .360 batting average with 15 stolen bases a year ago.
“He batted leadoff for us,” Rukamp said. “We look for him to get on base. This season, he's third in our lineup. We look for him to improve his baseball average and drive in runs. He's definitely our anchor in the outfield.”
Jansen batted better than .400 last season and will bat in the No. 4 spot for West De Pere.
“We need to get young guys in front of him so he can drive in some runs,” Rukamp said. “We look for him to hit a lot of doubles and extra base hits. We have some juniors who played junior varsity last year who have a lot of potential.”
The team has started out 5-1.
“We lost a lot of senior talent,” Jansen said. “We were tight as a team. This year, we have a lot of juniors.”
Rosholt lost to Waukesha Catholic Central 11-6 in last season's state Division 4 championship game. Jack Brooks returns for another stint as coach and his team is off to a 4-0 start.
“We have a real young team this year,” Brooks said. “We have three or four freshmen starting. Talent-wise, it's probably equal to last year, but we're pretty inexperienced yet.”
No. 1 pitcher Kyle McHugh, a junior, is the team's catalyst. He pitched a no-hitter in his only appearance on the mound and Brooks believes he is one of the state's top hitters. McHugh batted .547 last season and is torching pitchers to the tune of an .800 average at the plate this spring.