Comets open season with win
By Greg Seubert
Waupaca’s baseball team saw its 2017 season end with a 4-3 loss to Luxemburg-Casco in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal.
The Comets have put that loss behind them and are now looking forward to competing for a North Eastern Conference championship and maybe a return trip to state.
Waupaca opened its season March 29 with a 6-2 win over Weyauwega-Fremont.
“We definitely put something together here and I want to keep it going,” coach Rocky Mondello said. “Last year, the ending was a disappointment, but it was also nice to get to that point.”
Brandon Krcmar struck out five of the six W-F batters he faced to pick up the win on the mound and the Comets scored three runs in each of the first two innings.
Brenden Canterbury hit a two-run home run in the first inning and drove in another run with a double in the second. Brandon Wanty and Adam Kennedy added two hits for Waupaca as the Comets outhit the Indians 11-4.
“This is only like the second or third time we’ve been out,” Mondello said. “We haven’t done any base running, any of that stuff. It’s good to get the first game out of the way and good to get a win. The guys were here at 2 o’clock ready to go. They beat me by about a half an hour. You can tell everybody’s excited to get going.”
The Comets are coming off of an 18-6 season in 2017 that included a 13-4 in the North Eastern Conference, good enough for second place behind Luxemburg-Casco.
The NEC also includes Clintonville, Denmark, Fox Valley Lutheran, Freedom, Little Chute, Luxemburg-Casco, Marinette, Oconto Falls and Wrightstown.
“We have a very tough conference,” Mondello said. “I’m looking at FVL, Lux-Casco, Little Chute, even Wrightstown and Clintonville. Everybody’s going to be a little better. It kind of switches back and forth as to who has a target on their back. I always think we do. You play every single game like you have to win, especially when it comes to the conference.”
Waupaca was scheduled to open conference play April 3 at home against Clintonville, but that game was postponed due to the weather.
The Comets have to replace first-team all-conference players Ryan Dayton, Hayden Neidert and Jake Popham.
“This year, I have a lot of pitchers,” Mondello said. “Pitchers and catchers were able to report a week early, which is nice because you get to see everybody throw a little more. I’m excited for this pitching staff. There are at least nine pitchers in there. There are two or three guys that didn’t pitch last year, but they’re good.”
Waupaca used three pitchers – Krcmar, Brady Johnson and Jake Pankratz – against the Indians.
Other returning players include Canterbury, Wanty, Kennedy, Jack Menzies and Dawson Bohm.
The Comets won the WIAA Division 2 state championship in 2016 and have advanced to sectional play in four of the last five years.
“I would hope that their goal is to always do something in the postseason,” Mondello said. “You always think about conference, regionals, sectionals and maybe state. For a long time, I don’t know if we really had that, but when we started to succeed as much as we have, that is a goal.
“You make it to sectionals four out of the last five years, your goal is to go on,” he said. “I have a goal to compete, go out there and get better everyday. The guys have their own goals and I will definitely support whatever those goals are. They have their goals set and we’ll help them get there, that’s for sure.”