Pirates set sail for ultimate treasure - Republic-Times | News

Pirates set sail for ultimate treasure

By on March 21, 2018 at 3:50 pm

Members of the 2018 Valmeyer High School baseball team are, from left, front row, Gibson Sippel, Drew Shevlin, Jacob Rowold, Konnor Stellhorn, Jacob Niebruegge and Jake Kempfer; second row: Logan Seidler, Tyler Kempfer, Cole Juelfs, Ryan Brinkman, Riley McCarthy, Sam Fitzwilliam and Philip Reinhardt; and back row: Logan Whitlock, Evan Thien, Andrew Whipple, Jake Krekel, Michael Chism, John Fausz, Henry Weber and Drew Maus. (Sean McGowan photo)

Returning eight starters from last year’s team that fell just short of a Class 1A state title, the Valmeyer High School baseball team is hungry for more in 2018.

“The team has its sights on making it back to Peoria and winning its last game of the season,” Valmeyer head coach Greg Reinhardt said.

Gone from last year’s magical 28-10 team is all-stater Easton Wallace, who led the team in hitting at .450 with 46 RBIs and finished as the school’s all-time hits leader. He is currently playing at Kaskaskia College. His twin brother, outfielder Erikson Wallace, also contributed to the team’s success. 

Other than that, every member of the 2017 squad is back with a desire to win the whole thing this spring. Valmeyer has won three straight conference championships and consecutive regional titles. 

The Pirates have been strong out of the gates this spring, going 4-0 in the first week.

Valmeyer’s pitching ace from a year ago, sophomore southpaw Philip Reinhardt, has already picked up where he left off. He threw a no-hitter in a 3-0 win at Steeleville on Thursday, striking out eight while walking two. 

Reinhardt went 9-1 with a 0.95 ERA in 2017 and also hit .360 with 27 RBIs.

There is plenty of senior leadership on the 2018 squad, including pitcher/infielder Cole Juelfs, pitcher/outfielder Andrew Whipple, outfielder Jake Krekel, pitcher/outfielder Drew Maus, pitcher/first baseman Michael Chism and catcher Tyler Kempfer.

Juelfs went 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA on the mound and hit .429 with 13 stolen bases and 40 runs at the top of the lineup. He will play at Southwestern Illinois College upon graduation.

Whipple, who has signed with Lindenwood University-St. Charles, went 6-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 2017.

Krekel hit .421 with five triples and 32 RBIs last season and will look to become the school’s all-time hits king.

Chism, a lefty, hit .319 with 21 RBIs last season and went 4-2 in eight starts on the mound.

Kempfer hit .320 with nine doubles, two home runs and 29 RBIs last season.

Maus hit .337 with 16 RBIs and posted a 2.63 ERA in valuable relief work in 2017.

Ryan Brinkman, Evan Thien, Logan Seidler, Riley McCarthy, Sam Fitzwilliam, John Fausz, Jacob Rowold and Gibson Sippel will also be counted to contribute offensively, Coach Reinhardt said.

Brinkman, Seidler, Fitzwilliam, Sippel and Rowold will also see time on the mound.

The program has won a total of 67 games the past three seasons, so another 20-plus-win season with essentially the same cast of characters is expected. 

The bar was set about as high as it can go last season, but the Pirates seemed determined to top it in 2018.

“The team has worked very hard in the offseason to improve upon our historic state runner-up finish last year,” the head coach said. “I am very excited to get it started!”

Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.