While summer baseball can be a great opportunity for young players to prove their worth against top competition, the Dutchmen have always found success with tested veterans. Putting the theory into practice again, the Dutchmen are loading the middle of their defense with proven sophomores: Valparaiso catcher Jake Hanson and Garden City CC shortstop Tyler Alitz.
A four-year varsity catcher at Aurora Christian in Yorkville, Illinois, Hanson came to Valparaiso University with a strong pedigree. An all-conference and all-area award winner, the 6’1” 205 pound Hanson was named team MVP his senior year when he set a school record for doubles. In his first year at Valparaiso, Hanson appeared in thirteen games, starting seven of them. He compiled a .370 batting average, knocking in eight runs and playing errorless defense. This season, Hanson has started more than half of the Crusaders games behind the plate, hitting .258, with a quarter of his hits going for extra bases. He’s also thrown out just under 20% of baserunners and continued to play errorless defense. As a solid all-around athlete and consistent receiver, Hanson figures to be a calming influence on the Dutchmen pitchers during the 2014 season.
A two-sport athlete at Roncalli High School in Omaha, Nebraska, Tyler Alitz became an immediate starter upon arriving at Garden City Community College. An all-state honoree as a senior, Alitz started 53 games as a freshman for the Broncbusters, hitting .274 while being a region six Gold Glove nominee and also being named Honorable Mention All Jayhawk-West shortstop. He led the team in home runs with five, runs batted in with 40, and assists with 158. Alitz has continued his solid performance in 2014, batting .255 with nine RBIs, seven stolen bases, and five doubles, while starting every game at shortstop. As a solid defensive presence and proven, durable starter, Alitz looks to be a key cog in a successful Dutchmen season.