Two Rockets make BE first team

Von Heimburg, Simmelink took different roads to elite status; six other area players earn league honors

Jason von Heimburg
Ozaukee Press staff

One Cedar Grove-Belgium High School baseball player was a lock to make the Big East Conference’s first team this season.
Another was more of a surprise.
Senior Jason von Heimburg made the league’s first team for the second straight season as a pitcher.
Von Heimburg went 11-5 with an earned-run average of 2.72. In 46-1/3 innings pitched, he struck out 61 while walking 20. His walk/hit per inning pitched was 1.36.
Coach Tom Race said in his four years at the helm, von Heimburg “was the best baseball player we’ve had come through Cedar Grove.”
While batting statistics didn’t count in the voting for pitchers, Race said von Heimburg could have made first team as a shortstop. He hit .389 and tied for the team lead with 18 RBI, had an on-base percentage of .446 and a fielding percentage of .947.
“He was in the running for best player in the conference,” Race said.
Beyond the physical skills, talent and work ethic, von Heimburg is “a super nice kid. He’s coachable. He’s selfless. He’s always willing to help teach somebody something,” Race said.
The Rockets’ other first-teamer, Paul Simmelink, is an example of how far hard work can take someone.
As a freshman, Simmelink didn’t bring a wealth of talent to the field or batter’s box, but he kept getting better.
This year, Simmelink hit .377 with 12 RBI and an on-base percentage of .479.
At second base, his fielding percentage was .894, with most of his errors coming early in the season, Race said.
“He was really neat to see because things don’t come easy to him athletically. He was able to figure that stuff out and just become a great baseball player,” Race said.
But even his coach didn’t see a selection to first team coming.
“It was neat to watch a kid try that hard and work that hard,” he said.
Junior Mason Noll made the second team as catcher. He got better as the season wore on and ended up hitting .314 with a .462 on-base percentage and a .984 fielding percentage.
“Teams had to be very careful and choosy as to when they would steal on him. Over the course of the season he got so much better,” Race said.
“Next year, he could be the best catcher in the league.”
Senior Cameron Kirst made the second team at first base. He hit .317 and tied for the team lead with 18 RBI. He had a .421 on-base percentage and .980 fielding percentage.
“He really got hot at the end of the year,” Race said, adding Kirst could have hit .400 but started the season in a slump.
Kirst blasted two laser shots in the season-ending playoff loss to Plymouth that defenders made impressive plays to catch, Race said.
“He’s another great kid to coach,” Race said.
Ozaukee’s Brent Hoffmann, a junior veteran on a team without any seniors, made the second team at shortstop.
Hoffmann hit .458 with 25 RBI and three home runs. His on-base percentage was .540 and fielding percentage was .893.
“Brent had a great 2018 season and continues to grow as a leader of this Ozaukee program,” coach Steve Kowalkowski said.
Three Rockets got honorable mention.
Senior Tyler Kraus played third base and hit .296 with 10 RBI and a .541 on-base percentage. His fielding percentage was .909.
“He’s a leadoff hitter who was constantly on base. He would take a walk and constantly work the count,” Race said.
Senior Chris Mueller played left field and hit .298 with 14 RBI and a .468 on-base percentage. His fielding percentage was .960.
Race said Mueller “literally won the regional game against Sheboygan Falls” in robbing players of doubles.
“He’s not a fast kid, but his read off the bat was really good,” Race said.
Sophomore Bradley Katte went 12-6 on the mound with a 1.99 ERA. In 45-2/3 innings, he whiffed 57 and walked 37, allowing 13 earned runs with a WHIP of 1.45.
“He’s a sophomore with just so much potential. We’re looking for big things from Bradley next year,” Race said.
Besides Katte and Noll, Race said he looks forward to Jake Bohlmann, Jeffrey Emperly and the speedy Alex Acevado to return next season.




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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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