West Branch Puts Four on River Valley Conference Elite Team


Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

What has already been a successful season for the West Branch baseball team has added a few more accolades.

On the eve of the first state tournament appearance in seven seasons West Branch had eight players named to the River Valley Conference all-conference teams on Sunday when the league announced its postseason awards.

West Branch had four players named to the RVC Elite Team that features the top players from the North and South Divisions which tied with South Division champion Wilton for the most players on the 17-member Elite Team.

Juniors Trey Eagle, Matt Paulsen and Pete Espensen and senior Brady Lukavsky all earned Elite Team honors for the first time in their careers after helping the Bears to a 20-12 record and the first state tournament berth since 2012.

Juniors Brad Hunger and Tanner Lukavsky and senior Ted Bridges were all named to the South Division squad while senior Mitchell Knoop was an honorable mention selection.

Regina had four players honored highlighted by sophomore Chase Becker who was an Elite Team utility selection.

Seniors Caden Smith and Scott Arendt were both named to the South Division team and senior Paul Keller earned honorable mention honors for the Regals.

Paulsen led West Branch with a .439 batting average and drove in 15 runs while earning Elite team honors as an outfielder.

The junior also postied a 4-2 record and 3.45 ERA with 47 strikeouts in a team-high 46 2/3 innings.

Eagle was an Elite Team pick as an infielder after hitting .405 with a team-high four home runs and 33 RBI while going 5-0 with a 2.67 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.

Brady Lukavsky was one of two catchers named to the Elite Team following a senior season in which he hit .438 with three home runs and 25 RBI.

Espensen earned Elite Team honors as an outfield after hitting .325 with three home runs and a team-leading 35 RBI.

Tanner Lukavsky hit .353 and led West Branch with 34 runs while Hunter hit .324 and had seven RBI on his way to South Team honors.

Bridges was a utility pick on the South Team after posting a .32 ERA and striking out 30 in 21 2/3 innings.

The senior left-hander was 3-0 with three saves in a team-high 11 appearances.

Becker led Regina with a .417 batting average, 12 doubles 28 RBI and 27 walks and went 2-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 30 2/3 innings.

Smith hit .324 with 21 RBI and posted a 3-4 record and a 2.85 ERA in 34 1/3 innings while Arendt led the Regals with 34 runs and 32 stolen bases and hit .354 with 11 doubles and 18 RBI.

River Valley Conference All-Conference Baseball Teams

Elite Team – P: Brad Tornow, Jr., Mid-Prairie; Cory Anderson, Sr., Wilton; Harris Hoffman, Sr., Cascade; Jared Townsend, Sr., Wilton. C: Riley Reed, Sr., Cascade; Brady Lukavsky, Sr., West Branch. INF: Reid Rausch, Sr., Cascade; Trey Eagle, Jr., West Branch; Colin McCrabb, Sr., Wilton; Trent Pelzer, Jr., Tipton. OF: Matt Paulsen, Jr., West Branch; Jon Mootz, Sr., Monticello; Trey Daugherty, Sr., Bellevue; Pete Espensen, Jr., West Branch. UTIL: Chantz Stevens, Sr., Wilton; Chase Becker, Soph., Regina; Luke Becker, Sr., Tipton.

South Division team – P: Ashton Stoelk, Sr., Wilton; AJ Lenz, Sr., West Liberty; Kayden Reinier, Soph., Mid-Prairie; Brendan Paper, Jr., Durant. C: Vinny Bowling, Soph., Mid-Prairie; Brock Hartley, Sr., Wilton. INF: Caleb Wulf, Fr., West Liberty; Scotty Arendt, Sr., Regina; Brad Hunger, Jr., West Branch. OF: Garrett Bohnsack, Sr., Wilton; Jake Willkomm, Jr., Durant; Tanner Lukavsky, Sr., West Branch; Nate Dierickx, Soph., Durant. UTIL: Caden Smith, Sr., Regina; Ted Bridges, Sr., West Branch; Will Esmoil, Jr., West Liberty:

Coach of the year – Jake Souhrada, Wilton

North Division team – P: Eli Green, Soph., Cascade; Dylan Roher, 8th, Monticello; Cole Swartz, Fr., Bellevue; Mason McManus, Jr., Camanche. C: Mason Byrns, Soph., Camanche. INF: Justin Recker, Soph., Monticello; Mike Delzell, Fr., Camanche; Ted Weber, Soph., Cascade; Andrew Swartz, Jr., Bellevue. OF: Cade Everson, Soph., Camanche; Tyler Luensman, Soph., Monticello; Dakota Stevenson, Jr., Northeast; Jacob Wagner, Jr., North Cedar. UTIL: Zach Erwin, Fr., Camanche; Ethan Sahr, Jr., North Cedar; Kaleb Topping, Soph., Cascade; Riley Konrady, Sr., Bellevue; Avery Martensen, Sr., Monticello. 

Coach of the year – Roamn Hummel, Cascade

Honorable mention – Caleb Sauser, Fr., Monticello; Riley Wolfe, Jr., Northeast; Devon Willis, Sr., North Cedar; Brandon Kafer, Sr., Bellevue; Logan Otting, Sr., Cascade; Baily Rettkiowski, Jr., Camanche; Paul Keller, Sr., Regina; Drew DeLong, Jr., Durant; Talen Dengler, Jr., West Liberty; Keegan Gingerich, Soph., Mid-Prairie; Mitchell Knoop, Sr., West Branch; Dylan Mente, Sr., Tipton; Brayton Wade, Sr., Wilton

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