Maquoketa Valley’s 2021 baseball team will be young. Of nine returning players, five started the first games of their high school career last year. Sprinkle in nine more eighth-graders, one seasoned junior and three veteran seniors and that’s the 18-player roster for this season’s Wildcats.
One player up for every challenge is senior Parker Sternhagen, a starter since is freshmen year. Sternhagen was the centerfielder (.324, 12 hits, eight runs) last season just a year after being the team’s ace going 7-2 in 50 1/3 innings with 50 strikeouts.
Senior Tony Offerman spent the most time on the mound for the Wildcats last year completing 32 innings of work, going 0-7. He struck out 41, walked just 19, while batting .367, 11 hits and six RBIs.
The other senior is catcher Tim Harmon who had three extra-base hits, including a home run, and drove in five runs.
Michael Schaul, a junior shortstop and pitcher, was the team’s leading hitter accounting for a team-high 13 hits good for a .371 batting average.
He drove in five RBIs. As a pitcher, he was 1-1.
Two returning players who saw their first high school action last year are Preston Roling (.321, nine hits) and Toby Grimm (.258, eight hits).
Even though the Wildcats were 1-11 last year, 1-9 in the Tri-Rivers Conference, they did manage to get several players some needed experience that should help them as they navigate this year.
“Leadership is our strength and it comes mainly from those three returning seniors,” said Mike Cook, first-year head coach. “We have some experience coming back but depth will be an issue.”
Wyatt Steil (junior, 10 starts), Carter Klaren (sophomore, three starts) and Tate Monk (freshman, nine starts, .154) will continue to receive on-the-job training in varsity baseball.
Two newcomers who Coach Cook thinks will make an impact this year are eighth-graders Matthew Schaul and Treyton Cook.