Head Coach Craig Courtwright is in his second year at the helm of the Elite 2018s; a group that walking up to the field could easily be confused with a much older team. Eight players on Courtwright’s roster stand 6’0” or taller and the size translates into power on the mound and at the plate.
“This is a team that is certainly not lacking anything in aspects to size. Last year I felt that we were one of the biggest teams that we saw last year on the national level, and we’re even bigger this season.” Courtwright said about his group. “This team is a very tight-knit group, as 10 of the players returned from last year’s team. They have welcomed in the 4 newcomers to the team very quickly. The newcomers include Drew Golde (LHP/OF), Caleb Larson (RHP that came from our Premier team from last year), Gage Olszak (RHP/IF/OF) and Tommy Piekarz (RHP/OF/IF).”
The newcomers for the 2015 season add depth from both sides of the mound and are a versatile group defensively. Caleb Larson has developed into a frontline arm and will certainly be called upon during some of the biggest games this season.
“I’m looking forward to both our Perfect Game Events, 15U BCS Finals and the 15U Perfect Game World Series. Given the track record of success from within the organization at Perfect Game events, I would like to for this team to continue to grow the Elite brand at the national level.” Courtwright said about his 2015 summer schedule. “My expectation is to build on last year’s 56-10 record. I think the boys will take their game to the next level by playing with more intensity and becoming students of the game this year.”
Courtwright went on to give a brief preview of each player’s role and expectations for the 2015 season.
#1 – Noah Ernst – I expect Noah to take big strides forward this year coming off of a fantastic year last year for this team. Noah hit clean-up for most of the summer and showed the ability to drive the ball with authority to anywhere on the field. Defensively, Noah will see the majority of his time at catcher, first base, and right field.
#2 – Jared Trivette – Jared turned out to be one of the leaders of the team last year, and he mostly led by example. Anyone that appreciates solid infield play needs to come watch Jared. He is about as smooth as it gets in the field. Jared will see the majority of his time at second base, with some time at shortstop mixed in.
#11 – Drew Golde – Drew is one of the newcomers on this team that was a big addition because he’s not only another left-handed arm, but a centerfielder that can flat-out go get the ball! Last year, I saw Drew run down a ball against us that should have been a triple in the gap, and he did it with ease.
#12 – Anthony Deconcilis – Anthony is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year for this team. Anthony also hit leadoff for us for almost the entire season at a very high level. He is definitely a catalyst for this team both on offense and defense. This year I’ll be looking at Anthony to bolster the infield at shortstop.
#13 – Andrew Warner – Last year we missed Andrew for the entire season due to getting hit hard by the injury bug. We are glad to have Andrew back this seasons and will be looking for Andrew to step up on the mound for us this year and become a huge addition to this pitching staff and provide quality innings.
#14 – Cam Falk – Cam is the reigning Offensive Player of the Year from last year where he hit well over .400 with 72 RBI. Cam is a very quiet player that just shows up every day and attacks pitchers. Cam goes up to the plate each at-bat with a great approach and it shows with his results.
#15 – Andrew Tenison – Andrew provided some huge innings for us on the mound last year in some big situations. He has the “bulldog mentality” that all coaches want in their pitchers. Last year Andrew split time between the middle infield and third base when he was not pitching, but this winter Andrew has dedicated himself into transitioning into a third baseman.
#16 – Caleb Larson – Caleb came from our Premier team last year, but came up and threw a handful of games for the Elite squad and was lights out every game that he pitched for us. I’m expecting Caleb to be at or near the top of the rotation for us this year. To see where Caleb was 18 months ago at 14U tryouts and seeing him now is amazing and is proof of what hard-work can do. This winter, Caleb was touching 84-85 on the radar gun and has a very bright future ahead of him at this rate.
#19 – Niko Pozzi – Last year Niko spent the majority of his time behind the plate and did a great job of managing the game and basically eliminated the opposition’s running game. The part of Niko’s game that I am most impressed with is to see how he has progressed as a hitter. He is a very patient hitter that does not get himself out very often and punishes any mistakes that a pitcher makes against him. Niko has really worked hard on hitting to all fields. I expect Niko to continue to grow as a leader and continue to learn the game.
#21 – Kevin Garcia – Kevin is a fantastic all-around player with an infectious positive attitude. Kevin shows a great deal of composure and poise in all aspects of the game. He led our team in batting average last year at over .470 and was a force in the middle of the line-up. Kevin is a very versatile player that can play various positions on the field and play them at a very high level. Kevin gave us quality innings on the mound last year, but this year I’m expecting him to increase this role.
#22 – Tommy Piekarz – Tommy might be the hardest working player on this team and has spent countless hours of the offseason training and working to get better. Tommy has tremendous exit speed off of his bat and figures to be in the mix for a spot in the middle of the order. I also expect Tommy to be toward the top of the rotation. Defensively, Tommy will see time on the mound, as well as in the outfield and some time in the infield.
#23 – Gage Olszak – Gage is a newcomer to the team that will be asked to fill different roles throughout the year. He is one of the more versatile players on the team that could play all 9 positions on the field if it was needed. Gage is an absolute gamer whom you can count on to get the job done when the game starts. Gage will see significant time on the mound during the season because of his ability to change speeds and hit his spots.
#35 – Ryan Surin – Ryan is a very strong left-handed pitcher that will be at or near the top of our rotation. He threw some big games for us last year, but the most impressive games that he threw were the one’s where he did not have his great stuff and just had to out-work and out-think the opposing hitters. Ryan will also see time at first base, as he is a very valuable hitter that came up with some of our biggest hits last year to help us win games.
#44 – Jake Miller – Jake is coming off of a season where he led the team in homeruns with 11. He is a kid that will do anything that is asked of him and do it with a smile on his face. Jake is one of the more quiet kids on the team, but not many of them are as fierce of a competitor as Jake. He shows up every day looking to do whatever it takes to win that game, even if that means him batting or playing in a different position. Jake provided some very valuable innings on the mound last year and will continue to give us much-needed innings early in tournaments. I will mostly be looking to Jake to be a leader in the outfield.