It’s been a tough beginning of spring for local Yellowjacket baseball
and softball fans as home openers for both teams have yet to be played in Superior due to the weather. The season has finally moved into conference play, where they have only lost one game, that coming against Bethany Lutheran and they sit at 7-1.
Even with limited playing time and practice being held inside, junior catcher Isaac Fugere had high praise for the teams culture, “It’s exciting to
see the culture of the program, because knowing where it was at before TJ was here and where we’re at now, it’s really nice to see how far we’ve come along,” Fugere said.
For Oakes, the focus is on the defensive side where the team has solidified itself in the early parts of the season. “If we throw strikes and play defense we’re going to be in every single game, which is what we’ve been able to do,” Oakes said as the team’s offense has begun to show up as well, “our offense is starting to click now, so as soon as we put all three phases of the game together, we’ll really start to click.” Some of the praise defensively and offensively goes to the man behind the plate, Isaac Fugere grew up right in Duluth, Minn., and chose to come to UWS to play baseball.
“I think Superior just fit perfectly with what I wanted to do, they have the career path I want to go into, T&L (Transportation and Logistics), I was able to play baseball here, and it’s close to home,” Fugere said.
Since Fugere came to UWS he has grown into a leader on the field, many times a catcher is because they can see everything on the field, but with Fugere the leadership has been built off trust. Fugere is not only a major factor for the Yellowjackets through his leadership and defense, but he is also a bonafide stat-stuffer.
Last season he led the team in Avg. (10 or more at-bats), hits, doubles, home runs, and RBIs. These numbers gave Fugere some extra recognition and led him into a catching position with his hometown Duluth Huskies last summer, a team he watched growing up. The difference between the Huskies and Yellowjackets was the roster setup.
The Northwoods league is full of players coming and going throughout the season. “It feels like you’re going into your freshman year at a place, whereas here (UWS) I feel like I have established relationships and been a part of a program that I know,” said Fugere who later added, “I definitely prefer to build a culture with a team for years to come but it is definitely a different experience I won’t regret.”
The Huskies and the Yellowjackets have one thing in common for Fugere, they were both underdogs heading into their postseason tournaments last year. UWS was ranked fourth in the UMAC tournament before upsetting Northwestern and then won the first game in the championship series against Crown before losing the next two.
In the NWL tournament there were four teams from each division that made it and Duluth was ranked seventh. On the other side the Kalamazoo Growlers were the lowest ranked team in the entire tournament at number eight. Somehow both teams made it into the championship, since Duluth had the higher seed, they had the chance to play at home.
Unfortunately for Fugere he had lost a championship twice in one year, Duluth lost 8-3 and Kalamazoo won their first NWL championship. “We (Huskies) weren’t expected to win any games, but we ended up making it to the championship game just like in the UMAC tournament.
So, hopefully this year we’ll be able to win one,” Fugere said. To watch Fugere and UWS at home you will have to wait as the first home game is slated for April 21.