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The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College

MATC Times

Stormers baseball starts season on a positive note

Next home game scheduled for Sunday at Franklin Field.
Photo by Libby Sutton / MATC Times
Stormers catcher Jake Klekamp slides into third base at Franklin Field. The Stormers next home game is Sunday, March 27 at noon and 3 p.m.

The weather is getting warmer, and the sun is setting later, winter is turning to spring and that means Stormers baseball is back. The MATC Men’s Baseball team began their season in February and have played through 15 games winning eight of them. Entering into his fourth season head baseball coach Zac Charbonneau is excited to get back to a season where fears of COVID-19 is waning.

“We had practice time and then everybody [had to] go home and lock yourself in your room so we can keep playing games” Charbonneau said “Now there’s much more interaction, our relationships are better and I think that’s the difference. We are mindful of COVID and respect it but now are able to be much more of a family.”

Last season, due to COVID regulations, overnight travel was not allowed for the team. For the Stormers this meant having to board buses at three in the morning, drive six hours, play two games, and drive back.

The Stormers last season finished with a 19-17 record. The team was able to have some postseason success. However, they would fall short of making it out of the regional tournament..

“We play in arguably the most competitive region of our level in junior college. Anyone that gets out of our region has a chance to win a national championship,” Charbonneau said. “Our goal is to win the region this year. It’s to keep building off of the little successes we’ve had so far.”

The student athletes that competed in the 2020 season were granted an extra year of eligibility by the NJCAA due to the season being canceled.

One player taking advantage of this opportunity is Peter Fusek. An outfielder from Chicago, he arrived at MATC in the spring of 2021 after transferring from Kankakee Community College. Despite last season being his second season in junior college baseball it was just his first season playing.

“I didn’t play the COVID season, so last season was my first year playing college baseball. This [upcoming] season will be my second.”

His first season was strong enough to earn him second team all-conference honors, voted on by the NJCAA Division III Baseball Committee.

“A lot of it is consistency, a lot of players will have good numbers for five or 10 games but they’ll either get hurt or they’ll trail off. Last season I did not leave the field. I played every second of every game,” Fusek said. His experience has ascended him into a leadership role amongst the team. “I like being a leader. I like being someone that people look up to. It is a responsibility because if people are expecting something from me I can’t take a day off,” Fusek said.

The Stormers will also be relying on the veteran leadership of Jake Klekamp. The catcher from Rockford, Illinois has high hopes for the team. Klekamp is excited to be back and is confident in the younger guys that have been brought in.

“I think the regional championship is what we expect, it’s the minimum.” Klekamp says. “I think the way our team is built and the pitching we have this year it’s definitely doable.” Klekamp is currently working towards becoming a pilot and is applying what he has learned to the baseball field. “I think being calm is a big one. In a plane, it can get stressful and on the baseball field it’s the same way. Being calm lets you think clearly and act accordingly to the situation at hand,” he says.

This season the team has welcomed many new players. There are nine players on the roster that returned from last season. It makes the leadership and experience of Fusek, Klekamp, and the other seven returning players that more important. Coach Charbonneau has worked hard on recruiting and ensuring the right guys are being brought in.

“It starts with the person and the athlete. They have to be a fit for us and the culture we have here personality wise and ethics” Charbonneau says. “It doesn‘t matter where their driver license says they’re from. We are going to go where it takes us.”

For those few returning players, like Fusek, this season is about unfinished business and achieving the goal of a championship.

“I didn’t come back to add 20 points to my batting average. I came back to win the region. I came back to win the section. You know I want to win the National Championship.”

The MATC Times can be reached at [email protected]

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