Okay, I got off to a slow start this year. I've been so busy hitting the party deck at the Lumberyard (Copeland Park in La Crosse) that I plum forgot to sit down and get my blog going. Now, as we finish up about three weeks of play, it's time to update everyone on how things are going for our college guys trying to make a splash. (Ooh...speaking of a splash...Waterloo's stadium is has a better chance of seeing a bass tournament than a Bucks game anytime soon. It's completely underwater.)
At this point there are two teams in the NWL that just seem to be way ahead of the pack. In the North Division, the Mankato Moondogs are dominating with a 14-4 record. Behind them is Rochester with a respectable 11-6 tally and then the rest of the pack just sort of follows along. In the South Division it's Jim Gantner's Wisconsin Woodchucks leading the way at a dominant 15-3 clip. Madison and La Crosse are tied behind the Chucks with 12-6 records each.
Since the College World Series and the Team USA tryouts are still going on, a lot of teams are still waiting on some of their top signees to arrive, so things can turn around in a hurry. I know I was stoked to see Brian Morgado (104 strikeouts in 80.1 innings pitched at Tennessee this spring), but he's still trying to land a spot on Team USA. Bummer. (Well, not for him!)
So who are the players that are whoopin' up so far? Here's the short list of early NWL studs.
Derek McCallum - St. Cloud River Bats - .439 avg, 17 runs, 15 RBI (That's a solid contributor.)
Carlos Ramirez - Mankato Moondogs - .422 avg, 17 RBI, .641 slugging (a doubles machine!)
Eric Stephens - Rochester Honkers - .350, 3 hrs, 20 RBI. (This guy puts runs on the board.)
Phil Haig - Rochester Honkers - 2-0, .038 ERA in 24 innings pitched. (There are some 3-win pitchers...but .038 in that many innings? That's a stud.)
Aaron Varnum - Wisc. Woodchucks - 6 saves, 10 K's in 10 innings. (6 saves in 15 wins? Nice.)
Chris Sale - La Crosse Loggers - 2-1 with 31 K's in 25 innings. (Tall, lefty...keep and eye on this guy.)
I started out my season by hitting Madison, La Crosse, and Rochester on opening weekend and then put back-to-back-to-back games together in La Crosse this past weekend. Not a bad way to start my summer. Keep checkin' in and I'll keep giving you updates and some insights into the coolest baseball league around.