Baseball ready to hit off new season

Warhawks begin season as No. 2 team in nation


Senior outfielder Brett Krause hit for .382 last season to go along with two home runs, 31 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and a .988 fielding percentage.

Jack Miller, Assistant Sports Editor

After posting a 36-9 record and a sweep of the WIAC tournaments last season, the UW-Whitewater baseball team looks to build upon that success in their 2018 campaign.
On the mound, the Warhawks will be led by their two All-Americans, seniors Austin Jones and Heath Renz. Last season, Jones posted an 8-3 record, with a 1.91 ERA and 83 strikeouts. Renz was a perfect 9-0 with 55 strikeouts. However, the Warhawks pitching staff is more than just the pair of aces.
“Michael Kaska has been in the backburner for a long time, but he’s really stepping into a premiere pitcher,” head coach John Vodenlich said. “Sam Heilenbach is going to get some really quality innings this year and he’s made a nice adjustment. Then we have transfer guys come in like Connor Moroder, who on the hill should help us.”
Kaska, a junior, finished 2-2 last season with a 2.89 ERA and 37 strikeouts. In limited time last year, Heilenbach, also a junior, pitched 10.2 innings with a 7.59 ERA. Moroder, a sophomore, transferred from Division I Illinois State University where he redshirted.
“We lost a lot last year, but we have a bunch of young guys that I feel like will step up and fill in those roles,” Renz said. “I don’t think we’re going to lose much.”
The Warhawks retain the core of their position players, including senior infielder Blake Fleischman, who was last season’s WIAC Position Player of the Year.
Other notable position players returning for the Warhawks include senior outfielders Brett Krause and Daytona Bryden, along with junior infielder Cal Aldridge. Last season, Krause, Aldridge and Bryden batted .382, .347 and .386, respectively.
Despite the success last season, Bryden was limited to just 19 games due to injury.
“I’ve had a lot of hamstring injuries over the years,” Bryden said. “I worked with a guy that’s really knowledgeable in that area. I think that’s going to really payoff.”
For players that may take a leap in production, Vodenlich expects senior catcher Mike Aiello to do just that.
“I think Mike Aiello got his feet wet last year, but I think he’s turned into one of the best players in D-III baseball,” Vodenlich said.
Aiello batted .272 with 26 RBIs last season.
Entering the 2018 campaign, it’s high expectations once again for the Warhawks, who are ranked No.2 by
“We don’t even look at that stuff; it’s just another year,” Renz said. “Rankings don’t matter until the end of the year.”
The Warhawks begin their quest for their third national championship, and first since 2014, in Auburndale, Florida on March 21. The trip will consist of eight games and concludes March 27.
“We’re extremely talented as we are every year,” Bryden said. “We’re just going to keep working throughout the season to get ourselves in the best place at the end of the season.”