2017 Axemen Season Preview
Posted May 18, 2017
In 2015 the Axemen just missed the Wisconsin Baseball Association (WBA) state playoffs by a couple votes in the tournament seeding meeting. Last season, the Axemen again just fell shy of making the WBA state playoffs. A few more league wins were the only thing that separated the team from making the playoffs in both 2015 and 2016. Fueled by their shortcomings, the Axemen organization put in a great deal of effort in the offseason to acquire players to help the team make its first playoff appearance in program history. The hard work paid off, as the team has ten returning players, five new players, and three players who were members of the team in previous years, but were not on the roster last season.
Notable returners include Brent Stoughtenger, Johnny Costello, Ryan Gilles, Brad Stoughtenger, and Edward Palmer.
Brent Stoughtenger is coming off a collegiate season with a career high playing time at Viterbo University. He predominantly caught and filled the designated hitter position for the V-Hawks. The Axemen are glad to have their leadoff hitter back and are optimistic that Brent’s high on-base percentage and quality at bats will roll over from his college season and help spark the Axemen’s offense.
Johnny Costello is also coming off a collegiate season with Viterbo University. Costello was one of the V-Hawks’ most reliable starting pitchers, and some would argue he was the team’s ace. It is no surprise that the Axemen are excited to see Costello on the mound again this summer. Furthermore, the team hopes to utilize Costello’s athleticism and have him play middle infield and hit in the lineup throughout the summer. Costello has been a solid infielder for the Axemen, and his stick is always near the team’s top hitters.
Ryan Gilles is entering his third season with the Axemen. He has played a crucial role in the team’s chances of making the playoffs in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Gilles is a right-handed pitcher that will always pump strikes off the mound and has the stamina to go deep into games. Additionally, Gilles does a great job on the mound at controlling baserunners, if one was to get on base against him. When Gilles is not on the mound he is predominantly seen in the outfield for the Axemen; however, he can fill roles in the infield if needed. Last season, Gilles did not have the offensive production he hoped for, but he has put in a lot of time in the offseason to be a key part of this year’s offensive production.
Brad Stoughtenger has been with the Axemen since the organization’s first year of existence in 2012. Brad has been one the Axemen’s most reliable players throughout the years. He is always willing and capable of playing any position that the team needs to fill. Throughout Axemen history, however, Brad’s presence on the mound and discipline at the plate are most notable. He is a valued left-handed pitcher on the team. Brad can come into any situation and pitch effectively for the Axemen. Offensively, Brad is not a power hitter, but he works the pitch count in every at bat, and is very capable of being a key contributor to the team’s offensive production. Furthermore, Brad’s experience and knowledge of the game is invaluable to the Axemen. He is a great role model for younger players on the team to look up to and seek advice from.
Edward Palmer has been with the Axemen every season except the team’s pioneer season in 2012. Through the years, Palmer has played at every single position. He has always been defensively sound for the Axemen. Offensively, Palmer has always been a tough out for opposing pitchers. He is another hitter in the lineup that is good at working the pitch count and having quality at bats during games. Palmer has also been a dominant presence on the mound for the Axemen. Last season in one game, Palmer came in to pitch in relief. He threw a total of 27 pitches through three innings totaling only 27 pitches. Of the 27 pitches, Palmer only threw five for balls. Although his presence on the field is valuable, Palmer’s greatest asset to the Axemen is his love for the game. Palmer has a true passion for baseball and is excited to be at every game and practice. His enthusiasm and passion are contagious, and always boosts the team’s morale.
For new additions to the Axemen’s roster for the 2017 season, the team acquired six pitchers and two infielders. Last season, the team struggled the most with depth in arms and at times, in the middle infield. This year’s additions are excited to contribute to the team’s success, and are very promising. With the new acquisitions, and amount of returning players, the Axemen organization is confident in a successful season and optimistic for a playoff appearance.