Waconia, Green Isle lead pack in the Crow River Valley Baseball League

Posted on June 17, 2015

By Jeremy Stender

KGLB Radio – Glencoe

The season has officially hit the halfway point in the CRVL, and to no one’s surprise the Waconia Lakers and the Green Isle Irish lead the pack sporting 8-2 and 8-3 records, respectively. 

The Irish still have a bad taste in their mouth after seeing their eight-run lead evaporate against Faribault in last summer’s state quarterfinals.  The hot start in the Crow has also been boosted by their second consecutive title at the Stearns County Classic last month.  They just finished a stretch that saw them take two of three in league play….with wins over Waconia and Plato, before falling to Winsted.

In Waconia, the Lakers added to their offense this season by picking up former Winona St. star Cody Strang.  Strang has made an instant impact with a couple homeruns and a batting average in the mid-300s.  Waconia’s pitching depth and defense, coupled with a resurgent offense has their eyes set on Watkins and Cold Spring later this summer.

Other teams coming hard….

A CRVL article without mentioning the Winsted Wildcats and ace pitcher Tony Kley wouldn’t be much of an article.  The Wildcats right now post a 7-3 league record, coming off a one-hit, 17 strikeout performance from Kley vs. Green Isle this past Tuesday evening.  One of the top pitchers in the state just keeps doing what he does.

The Plato Blue Jays added one of the areas premier pitchers over the last five years when Cody Hallahan left Brownton to join Plato.  After a hot start the Jays have dropped three of five, but still sit at 6-3 on the season.  Their pitching will be tested over the coming weeks as some early season rainouts start to bunch up the schedule.

Since joining the Crow in 2008, the Brownton Bruins have been one of the top teams in the league, advancing to regions every year and the state tournament back in 2013.  Despite the loss of Cody Hallahan, the Bruins are 7-2 in league play, with gritty wins over south division foes Green Isle and Plato.  While the loss of Hallahan hurt, the emergence of hard-throwing righthander Dylan McCormick has helped ease the burden.

The middle of the pack….

Don’t forget these teams, as all of them have big plans in store for the coming postseason.

The Watertown Red Devils were just a win away from a state tournament berth last year before losing a nail-biter to Green Isle, and their 7-4 start to this season shows them as a contender to get back there again. 

After a 2-4 start in league play, the Carver Black Sox have reeled off seven consecutive wins and stand at 9-4 on the year.  Lefthander Mark Ulrich has maybe been the best pitcher in the league so far. 

In Hamburg, the Hawks boast maybe their best offensive team of the past decade, and with savvy veterans like Mike Mueller (state tournament MVP in 2007 as a draftee of Plato) and newcomer Hayden Zimmermann they have the pitching depth to go deep.

The Glencoe Brewers lost two region games last summer by a combined three runs, and their young nucleus is only a year older.  Key additions to the offense have them looking to bigger and better things come playoff time.

With region appearances in six of the last eight years, plus a couple state tournament trips (2010 & 2012), the 2015 season hasn’t started the way the Young America Cardinals had hoped.  With a retirement or two and some key injuries to arms, the Cardinals are trying to rebound from a slow 3-6 start.

The Cologne Hollanders have been one of the big surprises at the midway point.  While their record is only 4-7, wins over Watertown, Hamburg and Carver has forced the rest of the league to take notice.

The rest….

To date, the Mayer Blazers hold the league’s biggest upset of the year, a surprising 4-3 victory over Waconia in 12 innings a few weeks back.

The New Germany Dutchmen team is young, but they hit.  Right now a lack of arms seems to be their biggest holdback.

In Norwood, the Indians have been pesky to some of the league’s top clubs, but to this point it hasn’t made an impact in the W column.

The St. Boni Saints program is also trying to find arms to keep them in games.  Their offense right now is being led by Max Gregory and Dan Jerde, both of whom are hitting over .400.

Upcoming CRVL radio broadcasts on AM 1310-KGLB….

Saturday, June 20th – Waconia @ Plato, 4pm

Wednesday, June 24th – Winsted @ Brownton, 7:30pm

Wednesday, July 8th – Hamburg @ Young America, 7:30

(all games can also be streamed at kglb1310.com, or by downloading the KGLB app in the App Store on your smartphone)

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