2011 Season Outlook

Pitching | Infield | Catcher | Outfield | Recap

The Black Hawk College Braves baseball team is looking to do big things this up coming season. The high expectations are nothing new for the program. “We talk about a national title on day one. In fact, it’s a staple of my speech given during our first team meeting the day before practice starts back in August”, Coach Chavera said. “Our goal is to win conference every year, that’s first and foremost. After that, we are always looking to raise the bar of this program”, he added. The Braves have won the Arrowhead Athletic Conference Championship in 7 of the past 10 years, including current, back-to-back titles. 2010 was the 20th conference championship in the history of the program. Coach Chavera claims that this year’s team is the best that he has had during his 7 years at BHC. “We are loaded”, Chavera said. “This team is deep in talent, character and work ethic. I think the players all know that we should do well this year but they are not assuming anything. They know that we still have to play each game and I feel that they will take each opportunity to develop as individuals, but ultimately as a team”, he added. When Coach Chavera was asked how talented is the team, he responded, “Well, we had 6 pitchers touch 90 mph last fall, we are returning 4 of our top 5 hitters from last year, we are better defensively, offensively and on the bases”. He is referring to a 2010 team that set 6 Individual school records and broke several school Team records in Hits (532), Doubles (121), Runs (432) and Runs in One Inning (20). The 2011 Braves return 5 All-Conference players, 2 All-Region winners and 1 NJCAA All-American recipient. New additions include a Division I transfer pitcher and 4 freshmen that earned All-State at their respective high schools.

Pitching »
Returners Chris Burgess (St. Charles East HS) and Adam Karger (Batavia HS) both pitched well in big games last year. Burgess, who transferred from Central Michigan University a year ago, was the ace of the Brave’s pitching staff last season, while going 5-3 with a 3.73 ERA. Chris earned a spot on the 2010 Arrowhead Athletic All-Conference team and was selected this year by the NJCAA as one of the “Top Returners” in the Region. The opposition hit .239 off him last season.

Karger threw 6 complete games last season while compiling an 8-1 record with a 2.16 ERA. Opposing teams hit .221 off him and he did not give up a single home run last year. Adam was a 2010 Arrowhead Athletic All-Conference winner and also earned All-Region honors. He is a 2011 NJCAA Pre-Season All-American.

Jason Smith (Morrison HS) transferred in from Western Illinois University last summer and is expected to make a huge impact off the mound this year. Freshmen, Keelan Prince (Alleman HS), Mike Fisher (Rock Island HS), Alex Ott (Galva HS) and Charlie Dennehey (Morrison HS) should solidify a strong starting rotation, along with Junior College transfer, Cody Williams (Orion HS).

Infield »

2011 NJCAA Pre-Season All-American, J. Golden (Assumption HS) is expected to have another fine year at the plate while manning the short stop position. Golden led last year’s squad in 12 offensive categories while earning 2010 Arrowhead Athletic All-Conference and All-Region honors. Golden, who hit over .500 for most of the season, was a 2010 NJCAA 2nd Team All-American. He set two school records last season: Hits in a Season (81) and Runs Scored in a Season (70). Freshmen Nick Sanders (Muscatine HS), Mike Budka (St. Charles North) and red-shirt transfer, Kendall Hocker (Macomb HS) are expected to add some punch in the line up this year.

Freshman, Alex Slaby (Davenport West HS) will see some infield time but could also fight for a spot in the outfield because of his bat and speed. Sophomore Mitch VanNatta (Alleman HS) hit .427 last season and will mix in at 1B and DH. VanNatta was a 2010 All Conference recipient. Mitch was selected as a “Top Returner” by the NJCAA this year. VanNatta set a school record last season with 10 Hit by Pitches.

Catcher »

Freshmen Kendall Patrick (Mitchell, S.D. HS) and Trevor Kenyon (Davenport Central) are both highly touted individuals whose bats will keep them in the line up, from either behind the plate, or as designated hitters. Kenyon could see some time at 3B or 1B.

Outfield »

All Conference returners Mark VanNatta (Alleman HS) and Grant Jasper (Moline HS) will help secure the outfield this season. VanNatta hit .362, while Jasper hit .375 last season and has been selected as a “Top Returner” by the NJCAA this season. Sophomore Keigan Scott (Bettendorf HS) and several strong freshmen will fight for time at the corners this season. Scott hit .325 in limited duty last year.

Recap »

“We are definitely deep this season. It will be tough to keep everyone happy this year with playing time; four or five of our back ups could start at other schools. We have created a competitive environment that is conducive to development. That will serve our players well this year, and throughout their careers at the next level”, Coach Chavera said. The team has spent the last six weeks working on individual fundamentals, team fundamentals, strength & conditioning, simulated games, etc… Coach Chavera said that the team is ready to get outside and let things come to fruition. The Braves open up March 13th down in Panama City Beach, Florida. The team travels to Florida each year to play 8-10 games. The team’s home opener is March 22nd against Harper College.