Kee baseball team battles through 11-22 season under first-year head coach

The Kee baseball team played to an 11-22 season record under first-year head coach Jim Mauss. Compounding the fact that the first-year head coach was facing back-to-back seasons where the Hawks had graduated two-thirds of their starting line-up was the unfortunate reality of injury that took two more of last season’s young starters out of the mix for this entire season.
Still, Coach Mauss is not one to look for excuses and expects better results from himself and his charges. “This season was very tough on me, but I understand what I need to improve on and what the guys need to improve on,” Coach Mauss said. “No one feels bad that Kee is finally down, so we need to put in lots of hours and improve before the beginning of May 2016.”
Within that 11-22 overall mark was a record of 6-10 in Upper Iowa Conference (UIC) play that placed the Hawks sixth among this season’s nine UIC squads. More than half of those UIC teams that finished in front of the Hawks played to a 14-2 league record to share this year’s UIC crown after waging war against one another throughout the season.
In addition to this season’s competition level that included that UIC-leading trio that accounted for nearly a third of Kee’s losses by themselves, Coach Mauss also noted several other challenges that limited the Hawks’ success this season. “Lack of leadership, experience and playing consistent,” the coach listed as his squad’s greatest overall challenges.
Providing the team with their upperclassmen experience were five Hawks this season, some of whom were multi-year contributors to the Kee varsity baseball program. Travis Colsch, Ryan Kuhn, Dylon Peterson, Craig Sand and Nolan Welsh each played their final games in a Kee baseball uniform with completion of this season.
“Ryan Kuhn was the one senior we had that brought experience and was a very tough out at the plate; he was also a great defensive first baseman,” Coach Mauss said. “Dylon Peterson is possibly the best athlete at Kee. He led off for us and used his speed on the bases. He also played a great shortstop for us and also caught when we needed him to. Travis Colsch started every game this season and played centerfield. Nolan and Craig came out and did a lot of little things that make a team better; Craig was the vocal leader while Nolan was the calm one who came in defensively late in games.”
Peterson provided a majority of the statistical leadership for this year’s squad, as he posted team-high numbers of 31 runs scored and 37 hits in his team-leading batting average of .352. He also posted a team-best 28 strikeouts on the mound.
There were a handful of underclassmen leaders within this season’s final statistical numbers as well, leaving the cupboard not quite as bare for Coach Mauss for the future. Junior Logan Flack led the Hawk offense with 22 runs batted in (RBI) and nine doubles this season. Fellow junior Ethan Walleser posted a team-low earned run average (ERA) of 2.93, and eighth grader Micah Reinke showed his dependability in just his first season of varsity eligibility by tossing a team-high 38-1/3 innings on the mound and recording the team’s best fielding percentage among consistent defensive players with just one error for a team-high .989 defensive efficiency.
For their efforts on the diamond this season, Peterson and Flack were named to the Second Team of this season’s Upper Iowa Conference All-Conference selections as an infielder and an outfielder, respectively. Kuhn and sophomore Clay Olson also each received Honorable Mention on this year’s All-Conference list.
With his first year now under his belt at the Kee helm, and with a greater amount of experience potentially returning next season than what greeted him in his head coaching debut this season with the Hawks, Coach Mauss looks forward to next season, but also knows that next season starts well before May 2016. “Spending more time together building team chemistry and working out together,” he said of his squad’s off-season formula for improvement. “They need to watch more baseball and learn the mental side of the game, and get into the fitness center and hit, hit, hit!”