The Chippewa River Baseball League’s Eau Claire Cavaliers should be entertaining this year. They’re a team loaded with power bats, plenty of offense, and questionable defense that should lead to some high scoring affairs.
Through their first four games this year, the Cavs averaged 11.75 runs per game and committed 14 errors.
“I always like our offense,” Cavs field manager Matt Miller said. “But, to win a state title in this league you need to have pitching and defense.”
That’s what did the Cavs in last season. They were knocked out in the first round of the Wisconsin Baseball Association tournament by the CCV Blues who pulled off a 10-6 victory over Eau Claire in which the Cavs committed three errors.
Miller says if his team is going to go far this year, things will need to be different.
“It’s defense, defense, defense this year,” Miller said. “That’s what I’m going to have a focus on.”
Offensively, much of the team’s firepower is back. Tyler Hermann, Kole Lekvin, Cody Cline and Tom Mewhorter will bat near the top of the lineup and should supply plenty of the offense. They, however, were beat to the team’s first home run of the year by rookie Ethan Kjellberg formerly of Elk Mound.
“A couple of our older players here were upset that they let the rook hit the first home run,” Mewhorter said. “Tyler Hermann likes to hit home runs, so him not hitting the first one was kind of rough on him.”
Miller is expecting to have some added speed this year. Former Eau Claire North Husky Jaelin Williams is debuting with the team. He, along with former Old Abe Kas Palzkill and fourth-year veteran Jordan Wilson should be threats on the base paths.
“I think we’re faster this year,” Miller said. “That’s the game I’ve always liked to play, the speed game.
On the mound, Jacob Jenneman returns for his eighth season with the Cavaliers. Jenneman throws in the mid-80s and uses a curveball, change-up and fastball to attack hitters, according to Miller. If the Cavaliers are going to go far this year, Jenneman is going to have to lead the team on the mound.
“He said he was only going to throw six innings (in the Cavaliers’ May 5 game against Jim Falls),” Mewhorter said. “But, he threw all nine. He’s just a horse. He threw 130 pitches.”
He allowed just three runs, two earned in the game, while recording seven strikeouts in the game.
After Jenneman though, pitching is a question mark for the Cavaliers.
“Guys need to get here and get their arms going and get in shape,” Miller said.
Miller says he’s expecting a really fun summer. He has a few dates that he’s already thinking about, including rivalry games with Tilden, Osseo, and the Eau Claire Bears.
“We get some heated rivalries around here,” he said. “Guys get loud and rowdy, we don’t usually get too much into throwing at each other, but there are guys out here.”
The Cavaliers return to action on Saturday with a 12:30 game against the Whitehall Wolves at Carson Park.