Homestead baseball squad in good position

Coach sees defense as weak point

June 17, 2009

Homestead baseball coach Ernie Millard knows his team has pitching, experience, good speed and the most depth he has seen in many years.

And though his team is off to a 10-2 start this summer, there is one thing that keeps the veteran mentor awake at nights.

"Our defense is really suspect," he said. "I told the kids I go home at night thinking about the defense and then I come to the park and we play badly. But then we do something like we did on Saturday (an 11-0 non-conference win over Muskego). We go out and we play brilliantly. So right now, I just don't know."

What Millard does know right now is that his team has put itself in good position early in the North Shore race after an important 13-1 hammering of former co-leader West Bend East on Monday night. The Highlanders now are locked in a tight battle with archrival Nicolet (4-1, 10-1) for the league lead.

And he thinks this team is built for the long haul.

"We have a lot back," he said, "and offensively, we can hit the ball. When we get everything set, we can be really formidable offensively and, like I said, this is the deepest team I've seen here. I can switch kids whenever needed."

Leading the way is a six-person senior group led by five-sport star Casey Barnes, who at one point this spring was juggling golf, track and baseball responsibilities.

"It's good to know where I'm going (to practice) now," Barnes said with a laugh. The shortstop/pitcher is Homestead's leading returnee and won a critical match-up with Nicolet earlier this spring.

Other seniors likely to play a huge role include infielder/pitcher Brady Bingham, infielder/pitcher Matt Lamers, outfielders Mark Schlifske and Joey Stoll and utility player Geoff Hilt.

Juniors expected to play big roles include pitcher/outfielder Mike Collins and pitcher/utility Andrew Holtorf. Millard said a fair number of sophomores will help out this summer, including infielders Zach Enea and Matt Schroeder, catcher Mitch Hauser, pitcher Max Beckers and pitcher/infielder Doug Mueller.

Millard said he can go comfortably six deep pitching.

The Highlanders have a difficult schedule in the next two weeks and will be short-handed for stretches as Stoll is scheduled to have some wisdom teeth removed and Barnes will be at college orientation.

A pivotal game will be a return match-up with Nicolet back at Rennicke at 8 p.m. Monday and then Homestead will host Cedarburg at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

"If we're still in the conference race after these two weeks, we'll have a chance," Millard said.



See a photo gallery from the Homestead baseball team's victory over Muskego




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