Familiar focus: Milton Raptors aim for third straight championship-game berth
This season, the Milton Junction Pub Raptors are aiming for the Rock River League grand championship.
Runners up the past two seasons to Hartford and Kewaskum, the Raptors open the RRL season today at Schilberg Park against South Division rival Madison Laurel Tavern at 1:30 p.m.
No team in the 20-team Rock River League has won more games than Milton during the past two seasons.
“We’ve played some pretty exciting baseball and are pretty proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish our four years in the Rock,” said Milton manager Doug Welch, who’s beginning his 21st season with the Raptors. “But anytime you don’t win that last game of the season, it leaves you with an empty feeling. Especially when you’ve come as close as we have the past two seasons.”
The Raptors joined the Home Talent Night League for the first time this season, which added 10 Thursday night games to their schedule.
Former Milton High standouts Adam Catacutan, Andy Haney and Sam McCann join the Raptors this season.
Once healthy, McCann will handle some pitching duties. Haney is a catcher and Catacutan an outfielder. Both will join the Raptors once their college seasons conclude.
A solid core of Raptors return, led by brothers Joe and Josh Shere, who were each named to the All-Rock River League team last season. Joe was named all-league third baseman and the South’s Most Valuable Player. He won the league batting crown with a .429 average. Joe Shere was the South Division Pitcher of the Year each of the three previous seasons.
Josh Shere was named the all-league shortstop for the second consecutive season after hitting .421 with 17 RBI. He led the league with seven doubles. Josh Shere went 16-for-31 with eight doubles and 14 RBI in eight playoff games.
T.J. Klawitter (2B), Scott Steinke (CF) and Tyler Allison (catcher) return as the Raptors’ strength up the middle. Dave Sagitis returns in right and Tom Scalissi, Jesse Siriani, Jeff Jacobson, Dan Ziegelman and Matt Fredricks are veteran hitters and solid defenders at a variety of positions.
Sean McCann returns as the Raptors top starting pitcher. McCann won seven regular-season games last year, with a 1.47 ERA in 81 innings. McCann then won four of five decisions in the playoffs.
Veteran Tom Klawitter earned two victories last year. Sagitis and TJ Klawitter will also see extensive action with the Raptors’ expanded schedule, as will Jacobson.
The Raptors’ schedule:
Today—Madison Laurel Tavern, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11—at Janesville, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, 15—at Marshall, HTNL, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 18—at Farmington, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, 22—at Cottage Grove, HTNL, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 24—at Helenville, RRL. 3 p.m.; Sunday, 25—Johnson Creek, RRL, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, 1—at Clyman, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, 5—Stoughton at Fort Atkinson Tournament, 6:15 p.m.; Sunday, 8—Madison Rockers, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, 12—at Waterloo, HTNL, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 13—at Fort Atkinson Tournament, TBA; Saturday, 14—at Neosho, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Sunday, 15—Watertown, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, 19—at Albion, HTNL, 6 p.m.); Friday, 20—at Fort Atkinson tournament, TBA; Sunday, 22—at Madison Laurel Tavern, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, 26—at Jefferson, HTNL, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 29—Janesville, RRL, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, 6—Farmington, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, 10—Clinton, HTNL, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 12—at Madison Rockers, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Sunday, 13—at Johnson Creek, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, 17—at Lake Mills, HTNL, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, 24—Cambridge, HTNL, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 25—Clyman, RRL, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 27—Helenville, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Thursday, 31—at Fort Atkinson, HTNL 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, 3—Neosho, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10—at Watertown, RRL, 1:30 p.m.; Saturday, 16—Rock River League Playoffs begin, TBA