Miller headlines young Warriors

Star shortstop is one of a few pieces back from a standout 2019 team

SENIOR NOAH MILLER provides power and speed at the plate and will play shortstop and pitch for Ozaukee’s baseball team this season. Photo by Mitch Maersch
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Despite a year off due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ozaukee High School baseball team returns most of its infield from the squad that advanced to the state tournament in 2019.

Most importantly, the Warriors have  shortstop Noah Miller, widely regarded as the best player in the state in his class. Miller, who has been playing club baseball in the offseason, will play for the University of Alabama next year.

“Oh gosh. It’s great for the kids. Some of the plays in practice should be highlights on TV,” coach Steve Kowalkowski said.

“He’s such a competitor. He’ll be loose and having fun in the game and be smiley. He flips the switch instantly and it’s just game on. He can turn that into such a fierce competitor.”

In 2019, Miller was a unanimous selection to the Big East Conference first team at shortstop and was chosen to the second team as pitcher.

Miller had 29 assists and 21 putouts while making three errors. He had a fielding percentage of .943.

On the mound, Miller had a 3-2 record. He pitched 48 innings and struck out 80 while walking nine. He had an ERA of 1.73.

Miller hit .515 on the season with a .558 on-base percentage. His 20 RBI led the Warriors. He had three home runs, three triples and nine doubles.

Just going to state, Kowalkowski said, helped the program that a few years before didn’t have enough players to field a team.

“It just afforded the entire program to grow,” he said.

The team has 23 players on the roster.

Kowalkowski said he was worried he would lose some of the juniors who as freshman only played a few games due to wet weather and then didn’t play last year.

“But they came back with energy,” he said.

One of those juniors is Miller’s cousin Matt, who will play third base and pitch. As a freshman, he received Big East honorable mention recognition at catcher, when he hit .250 and had an on-base percentage of .404.

“Matt’s hitting the ball really well,” Kowalkowski said.

At second base, Simon Bares is back after earning conference honorable mention status in 2019. He had 10 assists, 25 putouts and eight errors while turning one double play. He had an .814 fielding percentage. At the plate, Bares hit .362 with a .492 on-base percentage. He knocked in 15 runs.

Bares will also pitch.

“He’s clicking on all cylinders. His game is fantastic. He’s throwing with confidence,” Kowalkowski said.

Sophomore Blake Coconower will play first base. Bares may see time there as well.

Freshman Talan Dybul will be catching.

In center field, freshman Sawyer Kowalkowski, the coach’s son, will start. He will be flanked by junior Jack Genzmer and Nick Szczerbinski.

Kowalkowski will also pitch, along with Tyler D’Angelo.

A few more juniors are slated to get some playing time at junior varsity before getting bumped up, coach Kowalkowski said.

The extra contact days given by the WIAA, he said, were a big help to get back to basics and build muscle memory again.

“It’s a pretty athletic team,” Kowalkowski said. “It’s just young.”

The Warriors were scheduled to start the season at Big East rival Random Lake on Tuesday. They play at Howards Grove at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 4, and host Hilbert/Stockbridge in the home opener on Thursday, May 6.

Ozaukee’s field has been improved, namely the portion in short center that would get wet. A new scoreboard is on order.

“The field’s in fantastic shape,” Kowalkowski said.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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