Kee baseball begins new era as Jim Mauss begins head coaching tenure

2015 Kee baseball returning letterwinners: Left to right - Front row: Ethan Walleser, Clay Olson, Danny Brennan. Back row: Casey Carroll, Ryan Kuhn, Travis Colsch. Not pictured: Dylon Peterson. Photo courtesy of the Kee High School Yearbook.

by Val Meyer

With a start to a new season also comes a start to a new era at the head coaching helm for the Kee baseball team for the summer of 2015. But the Hawks’ new head coach, Jim Mauss, is certainly not new to either coaching or to Kee baseball.
Mauss is a 1998 graduate of Kee High School and was a member of the Hawks’ back-to-back State Baseball Tournament Runner-up teams in 1995 and 1996. His baseball head coaching experience began in North Butler and turned a team that had gone 5-22 prior to his arrival to 19-9 in his third year. He most recently coached spring baseball at De Soto, WI from 2012-2014, leading the Pirates to conference championship titles in 2012 and 2013.
Taking over for the man who once coached him and the legendary mainstay for Kee baseball for the last 45 years, Gene Schultz, Coach Mauss said the majority of his coaching philosophy will be similar to Coach Schultz’s due to the fact that he once played for and learned the finer aspects of the game from him. But Coach Mauss admits that he is more vocal than his predecessor.
“I will be tough on the boys but I care a lot for all of the players,” Mauss said. “I will push them hard this season, but I will be there for them on and off the field.”
Coach Mauss will also have similar experience joining him in guiding this season’s squad. Long-time varsity assistant coach Jeremy Mezera will remain in that position this season, and the junior varsity coach will be Danny Love.
“I am thankful to coach here,” Coach Mauss said. “With 11 years of experience, Coach Mezera is great to coach with, and Coach Love is a teacher at Kee that played college baseball and has had years of coaching under his belt.”
As far as the players under that coaching direction, returning this year to the baseball team with varsity letterwinning experience are seniors Travis Colsch, Ryan Kuhn and Dylon Peterson, junior Ethan Walleser and sophomores Danny Brennan and Casey Carroll.
“These seven returning letterwinners will have to concentrate right away,” Coach Mauss said. “We will be rebuilding the team to make it back to the top of the conference.”
Graduation of two-thirds of their starting line-up for the second consecutive year took a great deal of the Hawks’ statistical and other leadership with it from last season. Kuhn returns as Kee’s top numbers guy from last season, as he had the fewest strikeouts in the team’s most at-bats last summer. He also brings back the Hawks’ second most runs scored and runs batted in (RBI) with 27 and 25, respectively, from last season and returns top-three team numbers from the pitching mound with a second-best opposing team batting average of .187, 33 strike-outs and an ERA of 3.78 in 33-1/3 innings on the mound.
Younger players who are coming up and will be looked to for contributions include sophomore Evan Whalen, freshman Kyle Hitchins and junior Logan Flack. “These boys need to step up and be leaders, even if they are young,” Coach Mauss said.
The strengths of the 2015 Kee baseball team will be the athletic abilities of the players and a good number of pitchers, according to the new Hawk diamond skipper. Mauss also said the weaknesses for the team will be the number of young players and lack of experience. All together, there are 27 players reporting for early-season duty for the 2015 baseball team. “There will be many holes to fill, all spots are open,” Coach Mauss said.
Mauss believes the keys to a successful season are playing one game at a time and constant improvement on the entire team. “The attitudes are great, the boys are working hard, they are respectful and they are having fun,” he said. “If they keep having fun while working hard, this season will be great.”
Mauss has goals for this year’s team of becoming conference champions and making it to the State Tournament at the end of the summer. “The teams in the Upper Iowa Conference will be tough, as always,” he said. “South Winneshiek, Clayton Ridge and North Fayette Valley are the top three, and Kee High will be up there as well.”

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