2018 Mallards Season Recap
Madison, Wis. - The Madison Mallards saw the 2018 season end in the first round of the Northwoods League Playoffs last night, falling to the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders. Despite the early playoff exit, the Mallards set a number of franchise records as a team. The Mallards 49-23 record was their best mark as a team during their 18 years as a Northwoods League franchise.
After starting the season with a 1-2 record, the Mallards put together an incredible first half of the regular season. The Mallards achieved a 12-game winning streak from June 4 to June 14, building a lead in the South Division standings to start the season. The 12-game winning streak featured a number of memorable moments including a walk-off home run by Southwest Baptist catcher Hunter Hisky to beat the Kenosha Kingfish on June 10. The Mallards finished the month of June with a 25-8 record and a firm grasp on the South Division first half standings.
The Mallards were led in June by the players who would prove to be season-long contributors. Third baseman Tyler Plantier (Richmond) collected seven home runs and knocked in 23 while posting an .339 average during the month while Jake Randa (NW Florida State) totaled a team-best 39 hits and stroked 13 doubles while knocking in 30 runs. Outfielder Jayse McLean (NDSU) contributed for the Mallards in the first half, posting four home runs and eight total extra base hits during June and providing strong defense in centerfield.
After a slow start to the season, infielder Trevor Schwecke (UW-Milwaukee) turned it on in time to put together an impressive June, finishing with a .322 batting average with 28 hits and 12 stolen bases. After arriving from Louisville, outfielder Drew Campbell made his presence felt right away, posting 27 hits through 17 games in June.
The Mallards pitching staff dominated in the first half and also saw a number of impressive individual performances. Closer Trace Norkus (North Florida) consistently lead the league in saves and tossed 14.0 innings in June without allowing a single run. Starting pitcher Dalton Wiggins (Marietta) got off to a great start, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.93 ERA through five starts in June. Carson Ragsdale (South Florida), Jonah Smith (Creighton) and Leon Hunter (North Carolina A&T) bolstered the Madison bullpen, all posting sub-2.50 ERA with at least nine appearances in the first half.
During the first week of July, the second half came to a close with the Mallards on top of the South with a 28-8 record through the season's first 36 ball games. Madison's 28 wins were the most wins in a single half in team history. The Mallards led the NWL in a number of team statistics during the first half including batting average (.285), hits (363), OPS (.770), home runs (32), RBI (200), ERA (3.06) and saves (15).
After clinching a playoff berth with the first half title, the Mallards started the second half slowly. Madison dropped seven out of eight games in the early part of July before ramping their play back up as the season moved to the All-Star break. Despite the rough patch, the Mallards still held the best record in the league and had eight players named to the 2018 Northwoods League All-Star Game, a league-high. The group of Mallards traveled east to Kalamazoo on July 24thto participate in the All-Star festivities. Trevor Schwecke, Drew Campbell, David Vinsky, Jake Randa, Tyler Plantier, Trace Norkus, Carson Ragsdale and Dalton Wiggins were all recognized as some of the league's best players during the first portion of the NWL season. Each of the Mallards pitchers tossed scoreless appearances in the game and Jake Randa collected a pair of doubles in the South's win over the North.
After the All-Star break, the season began to wind down and the Mallards were working to play their best baseball heading into the playoffs. July concluded with the Mallards on top of the NWL overall standings and a number of players were still dominating the league. Tyler Plantier continued to pace the South in home runs while Randa led in doubles and Vinsky rode a plus-.300 average and approached the 50 RBI mark. Meanwhile, infielder Justice Bigbie (Western Carolina) and shortstop Garrett Kueber (Austin Peay) hit their stride, posting strong numbers in the month of July. Bigbie collected 16 hits through 15 games in July and knocked in ten runs while Kueber posted a .282 average through 85 at bats and drew 15 walks. Mallards reliever Leon Hunter also peaked in July, posting a 0.60 ERA while allowing only one run on 11 hits through 15.0 innings on the mound.
On August 7th, Warner Park played host to the 2018 Major League Dreams Showcase that featured the top talent of the Northwoods League. Nearly 100 players that were handpicked by MLB scouts completed a workout and played in a doubleheader at the Duck Pond. Plantier, Randa, Vinsky, Schwecke, Ragsdale, Norkus, Hunter and Cal Greenfield (Florida) were all featured in the showcase.
During the last week of the season, the exciting summer at the Duck Pond was capped off by three straight walk-off wins at Warner Park on August 4th, 6thand 8th. After Bigbie provided a walk-off sac fly to beat the Kingfish on August 4, catcher Jesse Forestell (Western Michigan) provided a walk-off single on August 6 to complete a huge comeback against the Kalamazoo Growlers. The Mallards scored eight unanswered runs, coming back from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Growlers 8-7. Two nights later, after the MLDS, the Mallards beat the Growlers on another walk-off, this time on a Kueber RBI single after heading into the ninth inning trailing 4-3.
The Mallards seemed primed for a playoff run after a two-game sweep of the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders over the weekend, but the Dock Spiders offense exploded for 17 runs in game one of the 2018 postseason, ending the Mallards historic season. Despite the loss in the playoffs, the Mallards had a successful summer in the NWL, posting a number of league-bests.
Postseason All-Stars: David Vinsky, Trace Norkus, Jake Randa, Trevor Schwecke and Tyler Plantier
Northwoods League Manager of the Year: Donnie Scott
Team statistics (NWL Rank): AVG: .281 (1st) || HR: 55 (1st) || RBI: 376 (2nd) || 2B: 122 (2nd)|| Hits:709 (1st) || Runs: 424 (4th) || OBP: .365 (5th) || SLG:.406 (1st) || OPS:.771 (1st) ||ERA: 3.92 (6th) ||SO: 572 (7th) ||SV: 25 (1st) ||WHIP: 1.43 (6th) ||
Statistical Leaders (Hitting) - AVG: Jake Randa (.318) || HR: Tyler Plantier (14) || RBI: Jake Randa (53) || SB: Trevor Schewcke (18) || Hits: David Vinsky (86) || Runs: Jake Randa (57) || Doubles: Jake Randa (22) ||Triples: Jayse McLean (3) || BB:Tyler Plantier (39) || HBP: Plantier, Randa (5) || OBP: Tyler Plantier (.412) || SLUG: Tyler Plantier (.538) || OPS:Tyler Plantier (.950) ||
Statistical Leaders (Pitching) - Wins: Five players with 4 || IP: Sean Leland (53.2) || ERA: Leon Hunter (1.17) || SO: Justin Watland (51) ||SV: Trace Norkus (14) || WHIP: Leon Hunter (1.04) || BAA: Trace Norkus (.176) || BB/9: Cole O'Connor (1.89) || K/9: Carson Ragsdale (13.67) ||
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Northwoods League Stories from August 14, 2018
- 2018 Mallards Season Recap - Madison Mallards
- For the First Time, Stingers Are Heading to the Second Round - Willmar Stingers
- No Fly Zone; Huskies Ground Larks in Postseason Opener - Duluth Huskies
- Dock Spiders Win First Ever Playoff Game - Fond du Lac Dock Spiders
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