DENMARK - The Bay Conference baseball standings have been dominated by Hortonville and West De Pere in recent years. The Denmark Vikings are looking to change that. The Vikings share the conference lead with Hortonville with just two league games remaining. Denmark has a good chance to win their first conference title since 2005, which also happens to be the last time they made the state tournament.
Senior catch Alex Loberger summed up what a title would mean for the program. "It would mean a lot. A share of the title would be huge for us. Just coming from last year when we weren't doing much and then now to share the title would be great for senior year," Loberger said.
The Vikings twenty wins in 2014 are tied with Lake County Lutheran for the most in the state. This comes after they won only eight games in 2013. Even during last season’s struggles Ryan Havlovitz said they knew the team had talent. "Coming off last year we had a lot of guys returning. We had a good pitching staff coming back and I knew we could compete for the title," the senior centerfielder said.
That pitching staff has allowed less than three and a half runs per game this season along with six shutouts as the team compiled a 20-3 record thus far. A unique part of that staff is the work of Jake Reetz. Reetz has six saves and two wins while pitching 20 innings this season, all in relief. "He comes in and gets the batters off balance and gets us out of the game," Head Coach Bill Miller said. His teammates said they have a lot of faith in Reetz to close out the games.
We finally have what feels like baseball weather here in northeast Wisconsin. Denmark couldn't wait that long. They spent a week down in Florida at the beginning of the season practicing, even playing a game while they were down there. That gave them a jump start on the season. "The guys that go down you get to bond with them. It makes your team bonding stronger and makes you feel more like a team when you get back," Alex Loberger said.
After their trip the Vikings won their first 14 games here in Wisconsin, propelling them into title contention but their coach is stressing the biggest games are still to come.
"We can't be thinking ahead. We've got to many things to get done. We have to get some of our hitting straightened out. We definitely have things to work on," Miller said. For seniors like Loberger and Havlovitz it’s a sentiment that they’ve heard they’re entire careers.
"Everything from freshman year on has been one game at a time, one pitch at a time, one out at a time so you've got to get your outs and play the game the way it should be," Loberger said.
Ryan Havlovitz added, "Just comes down to being focused doing the little things; making outs out of outs, pitchers throwing strikes, just bunting getting guys into scoring position, 90 feet at a time."
If the Vikings keep doing the little things, something big just might happen.