Seniors look back on Pioneer careers
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With the final two games of the Pioneer baseball season looming, the squad’s seven seniors look to close out their up-and-down careers in their blue and orange uniforms.
Although the Pioneers have lost their last six games, the players said it is the memories and legacy of the seniors that will be remembered in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville baseball program. After going 22-20 in 2010, the Pioneers went 11-29 in 2011 and 2012.
Pitcher Bill Oppriecht and infielder Tyler Jacobson were the only players on the 2010 team that made a run to the playoffs and lost to University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the first round.
“I think I have had a solid career wearing the orange and blue,” Oppriecht said. “Making the conference tournament during my freshman year is a memory I will never forget. Also, making first team all-conference as a junior is a big highlight.”
The other seniors joined the squad as the years went on and were able to contribute a variety of their talents to the team. The group came together from all across the nation, ranging from such states as Utah, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.
“I have gotten to know these guys better than any other teams I have been with,” Jon Lewerke, an infielder who joined the team after playing two years at a community college, said. “(I) have formed great relationships with everyone which will last after I graduate. These seniors have been great.”
Other seniors on the team include pitchers Zach Ryan and Adam Theis and catchers Bobby Patton and Topher Scheeler.
Dealing with several losing seasons, the seniors were able to take away some advantages and life lessons that go along with playing the game, Lewerke said.
“I think the biggest thing is dealing with adversity. Obviously in baseball, you fail more than succeed and have to learn to deal with failure and not let it get in the way of success,” Lewerke said. “Also teamwork; I’ve learned to work with different people all with different personalities and backgrounds.”
The life of a student-athlete is busy with class schedules, games and practices. However, Oppriecht said he enjoyed the challenge.
“Playing an athletic sport at any level is a huge time commitment, but I wouldn’t change anything,” Oppriecht said. “I learned a lot of skills from playing baseball that I will be able to apply later in life. Hard work, time management and learning to build relationships with different personalities will benefit me greatly in my future.”