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Published On: March 6th, 2015

The Lakeshore Chinooks will welcome back two key contributors from the team’s run to the 2014 Northwoods League Championship for the 2015 season. Sophomore Sterling Koerner (Florida Gulf Coast) and junior Kyle Wood (Purdue) are both two-way players that made a variety of contributions throughout the memorable summer and will add quality experience and depth to the 2015 Lakeshore roster.

Koerner_Sterling_WEBCSterling Koerner, a 6’1 right-handed pitcher and utility infielder provided a consistent arm down the stretch for Eddy Morgan’s bullpen as he notched wins in the decisive Game 2 victory over Wisconsin in the South Division Series and then followed that up with a critical appearance in extra innings in the wild 13-inning win over Mankato to open the Championship Series. For the playoffs, Koerner recorded a 2-0 record and a 0.00 ERA in his three innings of work as he struck out four batters and did not allow a run. Those wins drove Koerner to seven total wins on the year, leaving him in third place on the career win total coming into the 2015 season.

Koerner’s versatility helped him play a major role on the squad throughout the summer. As the Chinooks awaited the recovery from illness of starting shortstop Sawyer Polen (Kent State) and the arrival of Blake Butler (College of Charleston) during the early weeks of the season, Koerner filled in at short during a seven game winning streak that vaulted Lakeshore to the top of the South Division standings. Despite a low .171 batting average, Koerner provided consistency on the infield throughout the early weeks of the season as teams established their rosters. As the season progressed, Koerner transitioned to his role as a pitcher and finished second on the team in wins with five and posted a 2.14 ERA in 29.1 innings of work. The crafty right-hander started two games, but also provided a consistent arm for Morgan to lean on as part of a pitching staff that fueled the team’s success.

Koerner returned to Florida Gulf Coast for his sophomore season hoping to compete for an infield spot, but has been used exclusively as a pitcher to begin the 2015 season. Chinooks’ GM Dean Rennicke was not surprised: “Sterling has a nice change-up and he pounds the strike zone, plus he’s a tough competitor on the mound.”

Koerner was happy and excited to return to Lakeshore saying, “Last summer was one of the greatest experiences a baseball player could have. So to have the opportunity to represent FGCU on the Chinooks this summer for a second year is an honor. I can't wait to meet the new team and hopefully have another great season like last year.”

Wood_Kyle_WEBCKyle Wood also added versatility to last year’s roster as the 220 pound lefty contributed on the mound, but more importantly provided professional at-bats as a designated hitter down the stretch for the Chinooks. In the thrilling extra-inning Game 1 of the NWL World Series, with the Chinooks and MoonDogs tied in the 13th inning, Wood hit a sacrifice fly to score Jake Noll (Florida Gulf Coast) for the go-ahead run. The Chinooks would go on to beat Mankato 5-4 in Game 1. Wood finished the summer with a solid .284 batting average, one home run, and 19 RBIs and drew a team-high 36 walks. On the mound, Wood pitched 14 innings in ten appearances, recording 17 strikeouts and a solid 2.57 ERA.

The Orland Park, IL native, who re-shirted his freshman season with the Boilermakers, broke into the lineup in his first year and was named to the 2012 Big Ten All-Freshmen Team. He has contributed at first, right field, and as a designated hitter and has developed into a consistent hitter with a career batting average of .279 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs. This season, Wood is off to a hot start hitting .306 with three doubles and an on-base percentage of .432 as he follows up on a 2014 campaign in which he led the team in hitting (.302) and on-base percentage (.390) and was second in hits (36), doubles (4), and home runs (2).  While depended on for his bat, Wood still makes an occasional appearance on the mound, having pitched in 19 games over his career.

Eddy Morgan is excited to give Wood a shot at first base this summer, saying, “We know what we’re going to get from Woody. He takes a professional approach at the plate and is always a threat to go deep. With the way he contributed last year, we were anxious to give him another shot on the roster.” And, Wood is excited to return. After spending the 2013 summer in the Cape Cod League, Wood was pleased with his Northwoods League experience that allowed him to play a rigid schedule, but also be close enough for family and friends to catch many of his games. Hosted by Joe and Bridget Ciurlik of Mequon, Wood enjoyed life in the Milwaukee area. “I had a terrific time playing on a great team and living with the perfect host family. I even learned how to tailgate at a Brewers game! I’m anxious to make another run at a title,” said Wood.