This is the fifth in a series highlighting the Gannett Central Wisconsin Media’s athletes of the year for the spring season.
WAUSAU – Shane Coker was one of the top senior baseball players in the state this spring.
Where he continues his career has become a question again.
Coker, the Gannett Central Wisconsin baseball player of the year, was set to attend the University of Akron this fall, after signing a letter of intent last November. But it was announced late last week that the university was eliminating the baseball program as part of cost-saving moves due to a decline in enrollment.
“It was a pretty big surprise, waking up to that news Thursday morning,” said Coker, who is in Oshkosh preparing or the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association all-star game this weekend. “It’s just shocking.”
Coker is now left scrambling in his plans for the fall, roughly a month before he planned on leaving for Ohio.
“Yeah, it’s stressful right now,” said Coker, who has been playing with the Marshfield American Legion baseball team this summer. “I’ve been talking to my coach from last summer (with the Greg Rehinhard Baseball Academy in Madison) and he has contacts with some college programs. But there isn’t a whole lot of time to try and find a college, we’re talking about a few weeks.”
Coker demonstrated why he is a prospect to play at the next level as he had a .694 batting average this spring for the Bluejays. He was named the Marawood Conference North Division player of the year for the second straight season. He also was one of three individuals to be named the player of the year by the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association, sharing the award with Aquinas’ Rudy Rott and Oconomowoc’s Logan Wonn.
Coker also was named the state’s top outfielder as part of the wissports.net senior baseball awards.
“It’s a great feeling knowing all the hard work you have put in over how many years has paid off and people have recognized it,” Coker said. “My dad (Bill) has been a big part in getting me to where I am now.”
Coker wasn’t the only local player who had a stellar spring season.
Three players from Stevens Point Area Senior High were selected for the all-area first team — Noel Winch, Trev Anderson and Alex Lee.
Winch, the Wisconsin Valley Conference player of the year, batted .311 for the Panthers, and also posted a 8-1 record with a 2.86 ERA.
Anderson led the WVC with a .545 batting average, and Lee had a 6-0 record and 0.41 ERA in conference games.
Ryan Gassner, Isaac Barber and Alex Blume were first team selection for a Marathon squad that reached the WIAA Division 3 state semifinals.
Blume, the Raiders shortstop, was the Marawoood Conference South Division player of the year as he posted a .388 batting average and a .929 fielding percentage.
Barber ranked second on the Raiders with a .432 batting average, and Gassner went 10-1 with a 0.88 ERA.
Mosinee’s Bryce Graveen aand Neillsville’s Sam Neville round out the first-team pitching staff. Graveen was a first-team Great Northern Conference selection as he led the conference in both wins and strikeouts.
Neville was a first team all-Cloverbelt Conference selection as the Warriors tied Spencer for the conference championship. The Rockets’ Bobby Pilz was the Cloverbelt player of the year and is part of the all-area first team infield.
Marshfield’s Sam Klein, who was fourth in the WVC with a .424 batting average is also part of the infield, and Rosholt’s Spencer Bembenek, the Central Wisconsin Conference-10 player of the year, is the catcher.
Wausau West sophomore Payton Nelson is a first team selection at outfield as he batted .462 batting average for the Warriors.
Tim Johnson can be reached at 715-845-0731. Find him on Twitter @timmyjo11
Gannett Central Wisconsin All-area baseball
P-Alex Lee, sr., SPASH; Ryan Gassner, jr., Marathon; Bryce Graveen, jr., Mosinee; Sam Neville, sr., Neillsville. C-Spencer Bembenek, sr., Rosholt. IF-Bobby Pilz, jr., Spencer; Alex Blume, sr., Marathon; Trev Anderson, jr., SPASH; Sam Klein, sr., Marshfield. OF-Shane Coker, sr., Athens; Payton Nelson, so., Wausau West; Isaac Barber, sr., Marathon.. Util- Noel Winch, sr., SPASH.
P-Luke Strick, sr., Wausau East, Garrett Hohn, jr., Wausau West; Spencer Hahn, sr., Rosholt. C-DJ Drohner, sr., SPASH; Landen Williamson, jr., Marathon. IF-Neal Matson, sr., Neillsville; Lane Tessmer, sr., Athens; Trevor Grabow, sr., Mosinee; Mitch Susa, sr., Spencer. OF-Caleb Alexander, sr., Marshfield; Chris Shibilski, sr., Pacelli; Chris Tomski, sr., Mosinee. Util-Connor Zblewski, sr., Amherst; Karter Underwood, jr., Marathon; Charlie Hessil, sr., Wausau West.
P- Marshall Getzloff, sr., Nekoosa; Johl Turzinski, jr., Almond-Bancroft. C-Riley Erickson, sr., Nekoosa; Tony Thurs, sr., Athens; Kody Learman, sr., Greenwood; Cal Hintz,.. IF-Paul Willfahrt, sr., Auburndale; Lloyd Bernatz, sr., Medford; Jamie Sarver, sr., Nekoosa; Trevor Schwecke, jr., Marshfield; Jordan Roessler, sr., Tomahawk. Util-Colin Faretta, sr., Adams-Friendship; Keenan McIntee, sr., Columbus Catholic; Andy Hogden, sr., Colby; Dawson Gebelein, sr., Stratford. OF-Nathan Dupee, sr., Pittsville; Nathaniel Clark, jr., Assumption; Aaron King, sr., Edgar; Kasey Zdroik, sr., Tri-County; Matt White, sr., Wisconsin Rapids; Keenan Stellingworth, sr., Merrill; Brady Uekert, jr., D.C. Everest.