Published On: March 30th, 2008

Madison, WI – March 31, 2008. The final pieces of the Mallards roster are now in place with the announcement the team has signed a franchise-record seven freshmen for the 2008 season. Headlining the group is right-handed pitcher Joe Yermal from UNC-Charlotte. Yermal has started his first year on the college scene fast this spring, posting a perfect 5-0 record and 2.27 ERA in 35.2 innings, including five starts. At McDonogh High School (Maryland) last season he was named the state’s Louisville Slugger Player of the Year after finishing the season with a 3-3 record and 2.04 ERA on the mound, and .436 batting average with six home runs at the plate. Read on to learn more about the Mallards most talented freshman class in the team’s first eight years (In alphabetical order, by last name). Single-game tickets for Opening Day, Thursday, May 29, go on sale April 26th at 9:00 a.m.

Neil Holland, RHP, Louisville. Holland has a 3.75 ERA in 12 innings out of the bullpen this spring for the Cardinals. Last year he was named to the First Team All-State for Owensboro Catholic HS (Kentucky) after posting an 8-2 record and 0.89 ERA his senior season. For his prep career, Holland was 31-6 on the hill with 12 saves and 260 strikeouts.

Matt Johns, INF, Western Carolina. Johns is off to a torrid start this spring, hitting .358 (19 for 53) with 17 RBI’s in 19 games for the Catamounts. He was awarded All-Commonwealth District honors last season while playing for North Stafford HS (Virginia) after hitting .417 with three home runs. In his junior season Johns was named to the All-District First Team for his .426 batting average and 7-1 record on the mound.

Brandon Johnson, RHP, Western Carolina. Johnson is 1-1 in a team-high 11 relief appearances for the 2008 Catamounts. He finished his senior season at West Carteret HS last year with a 7-3 record and 1.20 ERA while striking out 85 batters and only walking 10. He also contributed at the plate, recording a .313 batting average with 20 RBI’s and 12 stolen bases.

Don Lambert, OF, Baylor. Lambert led Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis, MO to a league championship and a Class 3A state semifinal appearance as a senior in 2007. He hit .460 on the year with 17 doubles, eight triples, three home runs, 30 RBI’s and 13 stolen bases. His doubles and triples totals led the state.

John Ringenberg, RHP, Baylor. Limited to an injury for most of this spring season, Ringenburg is hitting .375 in only four games for the Bears. The 2006 Class 1A Indiana State Player of the Year, Ringenberg finished his junior season at Blackhawk Christian HS with a perfect 9-0 record and 1.31 ERA. He also hit .484 with five doubles and five triples that same season. Ringenburg was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated salutatorian.

Trent Soares, OF, Fresno State. Soares has seven RBI’s including one home run for the Bulldogs this spring. He was a three year letter winner in both baseball and football during his career at San Joaquin Memorial HS (California). Soares was recruited by Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, Arizona, UC Irvine, and UCLA before choosing Fresno State based on the tradition of the baseball program. His favorite athlete is Brett Favre.

Mallards head coach C.J. Thieleke believes these youngsters have the right mindset coming into their first season playing a minor league type of schedule.

“I think back to my playing days in college and remember how exciting it was to be a freshman athlete playing in a big-time program for the first time,” recalled Thieleke of his time as an infielder for the University of Iowa. “I always wanted to play with and learn from my older teammates, and these seven talented freshmen feel the same way.”

“All of these kids had outstanding high school careers, were All-State selections, and should play this game for a very long time if they put in the necessary work and dedication. We’ve identified these players as being athletes who should thrive this summer and provide exciting action all season long.”

Thieleke added that while expectations are high for the group as a whole, he doesn’t want to place too much pressure on one individual player.

“We’re not expecting any of them to be guys in the middle of our batting lineup, but you look at a guy like returning sophomore infielder Brandon Wikoff (Illinois) who started last season hitting eighth, and after having a lights-out second half found himself batting second. That just goes to show anything can happen in the Northwoods League.”

“The entire coaching staff is excited to see what these young players can accomplish in a 68-game season.” said Thieleke.

Opening Day is only 59 days away and counting! There is no better time than now to reward your employees, impress clients, or party with some friends by reserving a suite at the “Duck Pond” this summer! Learn more by calling us at 246.4277!

Group tickets are on sale and single-game tickets will be available for purchase on April 26 at 9:00 a.m.

The Mallards open its eighth season at the “Duck Pond” against the La Crosse Loggers on Thursday, May 29 at 7:05 p.m. Be sure to come early as we have a plethora of activities planned when the gates open at 5:30 p.m.!

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