Determined efforts put 4 Grafton baseball players on 2nd team; Port Washington has 5 earn honorable mention
At the start of this season, there were some skeptics who believed the Grafton Black Hawks would struggle to be competitive in North Shore Conference baseball.C.J. KOEHLER was one of four Grafton players named to the All-North Shore Conference second team. Photo by Sam Arendt
The loss of several standouts to graduation — including Conor Fisk, the league’s best pitcher — left the Hawks well under the radar in naysayers’ eyes.
But Grafton laid those doubts to rest by going 8-10 in the perennially tough NSC and garnering a healthy share of post-season honors. No fewer than five Hawks received recognition in the coaches’ voting, with four named to the all-league second team.
Grafton’s second-team honorees are outfielder B.J. Weisflog, infielder Robbie Doring, utility player C.J. Koehler and designated hitter Ryan Donahue.
Teammate Beau Benzschawel received honorable mention as an infielder.
Five Port Washington players were also given honorable mention — first baseman Max Kaske, infielder Kevin Schmidt, outfielders Zach Hauser and Taylor Devenport and utility player Nick Godersky.
“We were awfully excited to have five kids recognized,” Grafton coach Brian Durst said. “I was also thrilled that we had four of them on the second team.
“All of those guys earned quite a lot of respect from the coaches, which says something about our program.”
Weisflog, a senior center fielder, earned second-team honors for the second straight season. A four-year starter, he batted .333 in conference games, leading the Hawks with 22 hits and 18 runs scored.
Weisflog drove in eight runs, drew eight walks while striking out only seven times, and stole 10 bases in 11 attempts. He had a .405 on-base percentage.
One of the Hawks’ co-captains, Weisflog was named their top defensive player. He had a .980 fielding percentage, committing only one error with 48 putouts.
“B.J. had another outstanding season,” Durst said. “He was great offensively and an automatic defensively.”
Sparking Grafton from the leadoff spot, Weisflog reached base in his first at-bat in 11 of 18 conference games and then scored seven times, Durst noted.
Doring, a junior, anchored the Hawks’ infield as a rangy shortstop. He hit .327 with 18 hits, including five doubles and two home runs.
Doring drove in 15 runs, scored 13 times and had a .527 slugging percentage. He had a .431 on-base percentage and was 4-for-4 in steal attempts.
“Robbie did a great job as our No. 3 hitter,” Durst said. “In the field, he could get to a lot of baseballs that other shortstops couldn’t.”
Based on Doring’s impressive showing, “he will certainly be one of the top players in the conference next year,” Durst said.
Koehler, a senior co-captain, was named the Hawks’ most valuable player for his all-around contributions.
A third baseman/pitcher, he batted .432 with 19 hits, including four doubles, and had a .523 slugging percentage. He had a .528 on-base percentage, drew eight walks and never struck out in conference play.
As a pitcher, Koehler went 4-5 in NSC play. He had three complete games, with a 3.71 earned-run average in 49 innings.
Defensively, Koehler had a .949 fielding percentage, committing only two errors.
“C.J. had a great season, with impressive hitting and pitching numbers,” Durst said. “Whatever we needed him to do, he did it.
“He showed tremendous leadership. He was an extension of our coaches on the field.”
Donahue was another of Grafton’s offensive leaders and had “a magical senior season,” Durst said.
An infielder who excelled in the DH role, Donahue led the Hawks with a .468 batting mark, among the top five in the conference. His .617 slugging percentage included five doubles and a triple.
He drove in 10 runs, scored 12 and had a .537 on-base percentage.
“It’s so gratifying to see someone who worked that hard in the off-season have that kind of year,” Durst said.
Benzschawel established himself as one of the league’s top freshmen. Playing at third and first bases, he hit .340 with 18 hits, including five doubles and two triples.
Benzschawel scored 15 runs, drove in 13 and had a .417 on-base percentage.
“Beau handled himself so well for a young player,” Durst said. “Physically, he’s got the build of a much more mature player, and he also has the skill to go with it.”
A young Port team had a large group of players singled out by the coaches despite finishing only 3-15 in the conference.
Four of the Pirates’ honorees are juniors, the only senior being second baseman Kevin Schmidt.
Schmidt led Port with a .354 batting average and 17 hits. He drove in four runs and had a .446 on-base percentage.
“Kevin put in a lot of time in the off-season and improved tremendously from his junior year,” Port coach Jeff Dornburg said.
“He went from batting about .220 last year to hitting .354, which was really impressive.”
Kaske was one of the Pirates’ top power threats. He hit .269 and drove in a team-high 10 runs.
A defensive stalwart, Kaske committed no errors and “saved a number of errors from our other infielders,” Dornburg said.
“He was just outstanding at first.”
Hauser and Devenport gave the Pirates two steady outfielders who contributed with their bats and gloves.
Hauser, a left fielder, hit .282 with three doubles and seven RBI. He had a .359 slugging average and .383 on-base percentage.
Devenport, a center fielder, batted .309 with two doubles and a homer. He scored a team-best 17 runs and drove in five.
Devenport had a .400 slugging average and .397 on-base percentage.
“Taylor gave us great coverage in the outfield. He ran down a lot of balls that would have been hits,” Dornburg said.
Godersky was Port’s most versatile player, seeing action as a pitcher, third baseman and catcher.
He hit .264 with four doubles, drove in four runs and had a .381 on-base percentage.
As a pitcher, Godersky was 3-6 in NSC play with a 5.31 ERA. He had all the Pirates’ league wins, including two against fifth-place Homestead and a shutout victory over runner-up Nicolet.
“Nick had a pretty good year for us,” Dornburg said. “If you take out a couple of rough games he had, his ERA would have been a lot lower.”
Although no Pirates were named to the top two all-conference teams, having five receive honorable mention was an acknowledgment of their talent, Dornburg noted.
“The coaches knew that our team was much improved this year,” he said. “That was good to see.”
Champion West Bend West captured the two top individual awards in the all-league voting. Senior pitcher Jon Nick was named Player of the Year, and Bill Albrecht received the Coach of the Year honor.