The term “phenom” is used frequently in sports. Whenever a player has a strong start to their career, they are immediately tagged with that label.
But if someone were to call Warhawk freshmen first baseman Marty Herum and catcher Mike Mierow phenoms, the two players’ statistics would back up such bold statements.
Herum, out of River Falls High School, through 21 games bats .411 and leads the team in hits (39), total bases (62), RBIs (27), doubles (eight), triples (three) and is second on the team in slugging percentage (.653). Herum is third on the team in home runs with three.
When making his college decision, Herum finally decided on UW-Whitewater after considering other WIAC schools such as UW-Stout, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Oshkosh. In the end, Herum said UW-Whitewater’s tradition of winning is what swayed him to picking the purple and white.
After graduating high school in 2010, the coaching staff and Herum decided to grayshirt for a season. During his grayshirt season, Herum worked on his swing with the coaching staff and also watched first baseman Jeff Donovan go to work every day of his All-American season.
Head coach John Vodenlich has compared Herum to Donovan several times and has even gone as far to say he might have the opportunity to be one of the best hitters to ever play for UW-Whitewater. Herum said he feels the pressure.
“That would be quite an achievement,” Herum said. “Jeff Donovan is one of the best hitters I’ve probably ever seen and one of the best hitters that I think has ever gone through [the program]. Yeah, that’s pretty exciting.”
Herum’s blistering start hasn’t come without its struggles. With so much hype building around him early in his career, it remains to be seen how he will handle the pressure. Herum said so far he has turned it into fun.
“It’s kind of overwhelming just because everybody’s saying ‘You’re doing good. You’re doing good,’” Herum said. “But they haven’t experienced what normally happens. I love it though, so it’s fun.”
Just 90 feet away from Herum’s first base position is Mike Mierow, stationed behind the plate.
Mierow, out of Brookfield Central High School, is batting .367 with two homeruns, 10 RBIs and a .517 slugging percentage, all while calling the pitches behind the dish.
Mierow, who also grayshirted last year, noted the adjustment from high school to college was made easier by watching for a season.
“It’s definitely a faster game, but fortunately [Marty and I] got to grayshirt last year,” Mierow said. “That’s definitely helped out a lot [because] the speed of the game is definitely a lot different.”
Mierow’s adjustment to the college game is coupled with the extraordinary difficulties even experienced catchers must go through. Whether it’s calling pitches, observing a hitter’s tendencies or blocking balls in the dirt, Mierow’s development as a catcher early could be seen as an impressive accomplishment.
With a young core of Mierow and Herum, as well as sophomore centerfielder Dylan Friend and sophomore third baseman Jared Fon, the future seems bright for the ’Hawks. While the team will be in contention this season, Vodenlich said he expects the team to be competing for a title every year they’re on the team.
“They’re low maintenance, hard working young men who don’t need to be stroked everyday and told how great they are,” Vodenlich said. “That’s a recipe for success.”