By Chris LeBarton
THE DUCK POND ? Shortstop Mike Rozema might not see much action in the second half of the season now that the Madison Mallards have wrapped up a spot in the Northwoods League playoffs.
Rozema, who appeared in 31 of the team?s first 32 games, is due for a couple of days off. But don?t expect the manager to rest him for very long.
?I think he is the most valuable player of the first half,? Mallards manager Darrell Handelsman said. ?If you are the best player on the best team in the league, I think that makes you the MVP.?
A strong contributor offensively and a creative presence on the left side of the infield, Rozema should be in the running for league honors at season?s end.
After an unspectacular start, Rozema has been on a tear recently. Hitting just .241 through the first 16 games, the St. John?s junior has raised his average more than 80 points in the past three weeks and was hitting .325 heading into Saturday?s game against Alexandria. Over the past 16 games, Rozema had two or more hits in seven games, with 12 runs scored and 8 RBI.
Rozema also ranked second in the league with 14 stolen bases.
?It?s not really about being locked in,? said Rozema, who has hit safely in 12 straight games and had a 22-game hitting streak for St. John?s this season. ?I just go out there and try to play my butt off, and let the chips fall where they may.?
While he leads the team with 10 errors, he has committed just two in the past 11 games.
?Offensively and defensively he is a difference maker,? Handelsman said.