Rhinelander High School baseball team award winners, from left Walker Hartman, Bryce Schickert and Isaac Bixby, pose for a photograph following the team’s banquet at Hodag Park Sunday, June 9. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
6/11/2019 7:33:00 AM Schickert named RHS baseball MVP
Bryce Schickert was a leader on the mound, at the plate and in the clubhouse this spring for the Rhinelander High School baseball team. Not surprisingly, his teammates recognized his contributions.
Schickert was voted the Hodag baseball team's MVP and received the award Sunday during the team's banquet at Hodag Park. That award recognized Schickert's tangible contributions. He also shared the team's Hodag award for his intangibles.
Schickert, a second-team all-Great Northern Conference player as a pitcher and an infielder, logged a team-high 35 innings this spring for Rhinelander, going 3-1 with a save and a 2.20 ERA. He struck out 37 batters, also a team best.
At the plate Schickert's .310 batting average was third-best on the team, as were his 11 RBIs. Schickert had a home run, and his five extra-base hits trailed only Liam Stevens (9) for the team lead.
"Bryce ended up being one of our two top pitchers at the end of the season. You kind of expected that going into the season he was going to be one of the top pitchers, not only for our team but in the conference," Hodag coach Joe Waksmonski said during the banquet. "I think - not surprisingly, but maybe a little bit - was his bat this year. He ended up hitting around .360 in conference and, again, that had a lot with coach Mike (Vanderbunt) and coach Matt (LeClair) working with him on his swing, doing a couple of mechanical tweaks. Most importantly, it was Bryce accepting the coaching too and knowing that there were things he had to change with his swing to make improvements."
Outside the lines, Schickert was a leader for the team, which helped him share the Hodag award given to the player or players who best exemplify Hodag baseball. He split the award with sophomore Isaac Bixby.
"I thought both of them got the award for different reasons," Waksmonski said. "Isaac was the guy that hung around after practice, did the little things, helped pick up. He was always around to help out any way he could. He was a great teammate. Bryce was a great teammate and he led more by example and with his words as well. Both of them got the award, I felt, for different reasons and both of them were deserving of the award."
Sophomore catcher Walker Hartman was voted the team's most improved player. He hit .256 this spring with six RBIs. He only hit .200 last spring in only seven plate appearances as the team typically used a designated hitter for Hartman last season.
Behind the plate, Hartman improved defensively, throwing out four base runners in 25 stolen base attempts this spring after going 1 of 24 last year in that department.
"Walker improved on throwing. We worked on his feet. We worked on his arm and he was throwing out runners that, at the beginning of the season, were making it," Waksmonski said. "I felt by the end of the year, Walker grew not only as a thrower but a receiver. He grew as a blocker. He worked very hard on blocking and, most importantly, as a hitter ... He was hitting the ball hard whenever he was making contact and you could tell his confidence was growing at the plate."
The Hodags went 10-9 overall, and 6-6 in the GNC. Waksmonski said he thought that record "was pretty good" considering the team had to contend with a second straight abbreviated spring season. Apart from a doubleheader in early April at Green Bay Notre Dame, the team didn't got on the diamond until late April and had only a handful outdoor practices during the course of the spring.
"I feel bad the most for our seniors because they really didn't get to experience a true varsity season where you could play single games," Waksmonski said.
"They had to play two consecutive seasons of trying to scrunch a whole season into a month. It can be a grind on them and not as enjoyable if you could play over two months. It is what it is and we did the best we could."
Waksmonski also took a moment to recognize the team's five seniors - Schickert, Josh Randolph, Martin Hoger, Liam Stevens and Eric Grulke.
"They were a solid five guys that ended up playing all four years for us," Waksmonski said. "They were solid contributors and they were solid leaders for our team. We're going to miss them going forward. Hopefully our younger guys can pick up on what they did well and apply that to what they are going to do going forward, and improve themselves as baseball players."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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