The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has had a hot start, even with a new pitching rotation.
With 11 seasons under his belt as head coach, Pat Bloom had a tough task trying to replace eight pitchers in the rotation.
“It is hard to replace one pitcher, and we have to replace eight,” Bloom said. “ It is a challenge but we had young guys get experience in Florida.”
Pitching was questionable when the team headed down to Florida to begin the season over spring break.
“There was a lot of concern if we had enough pitching as we faced tough competition in Florida,” Bloom said. “Going in we thought our constant would be our lineup and fielding, but our first game was a 3-2 extra-innings loss and the pitching held up.”
Top starting pitchers this year include: senior Mitch Beau, former quarterback at UWSP who is 1-0 with two saves and an earned run average of 0.66; Junior Mark Kowalke, is 1-2 with a 1.71 ERA; Senior Nick Prebelski, moving into the rotation after being a reliever the last few seasons; and sophomore Heinrich Walder, who is the top reliever with two saves and a 0.66 ERA in six appearances.
During the last five games in Florida, the Pointers went 4-1, holding opponents to a .185 batting average. They also had an ERA of 1.54.
Against St. Norbert in a double header on March 29, Beau and Kowalke each gave up one earned run 7-4 and 3-2 wins. Bloom says he was impressed with the pitching so far, especially in Florida.
“Overall I was pleased with our young inexperienced staff,” Bloom said. “They learned to be tougher and more resilient against tough teams.”
Bloom shapes his rotation as a major league rotation in order to create depth since teams cannot rely on six pitchers, although high school teams do.
“We have to run our rotation like the major leagues to win,” Bloom said. “ We have to keep it in a schedule to stay healthy the rest of the year,and we have to have depth of at least a dozen.”
UWSP is currently 9-3 and ranked tenth in the nation. UWSP faces UW-Stout next in a doubleheader.