Schlange signs with WNCC
With the departure of outgoing sophomore Jerahmie Libke, Western Nevada Community College coach D.J. Whittemore had to find somebody to fill the shortstop position.
Fortunately for Whittemore and Carson Senators shortstop Kevin Schlange, he didn’t have to travel far to find a player to possibly assume that role.
The 6-foot, 170-pound Schlange will join Carson teammate and second baseman Logan Parsley in committing to WNCC, which captured the Scenic West Athletic Conference regular season championship in its inaugural season.
“He’s about as good a defensive shortstop as there is in the state,” Whittemore said of Schlange, who transferred to Carson from South Tahoe in his sophomore year. “He has really good hands, good arm strength and quick reflexes. We have high hopes for him.”
Schlange batted .242 for Carson (24-10) in Sierra League play and had a .439 slugging percentage. He also had three home runs and 17 RBI in conference play for the Senators, who finished second in the Sierra League and advanced to the semifinals of the Northern 4A Region playoffs.
Libke finished with a .211 average, had 15 RBI and a .951 fielding percentage at shortstop for the Wildcats, who went 37-18 and advanced to the semifinals of the SWAC Tournament before their unlikely run ended.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said the 18-year-old Schlange, who wants to major in fire science and eventually become a fireman. “There was nothing there and now it’s a close, new program starting up. It’s exciting how good they did. My interest to play there increased as the year went on. With the guys they have coming back and the new players, they have a whole year to improve.”
That Parsley will theoretically once again be playing right next to him only makes it a more entertaining possibility for Schlange, who added he also had an interest in pursuing a business degree.
“It feels great. Parsley and I have been best friends since I moved down here,” Schlange said. “With me at shortstop and him at second, we know each other on and off the field. It makes it easier going into it.”
Schlange becomes the third Carson player to go to WNCC, following Parsley and center fielder Aaron Henry, who had a good year for the Wildcats and is said to be looking into possibly continue playing for an as yet unnamed four-year school.
Carson coach Steve Cook said Whittemore would be pleased with what Schlange brings to the table.
“He’s a great kid,” Cook said. “He’s a yes-sir, no-sir kind of kid. He’s willing to learn and has his ears are always open. He works hard. He’s a helluva fielder and has great feet, good hands and is willing to work at the sticks.
“He’s good at fielding the ball – all of the fundamentals – and has a real good release. Going into his backhand side, he’s got a quick release and will throw a strike to first base. The kid can play defense, that’s for sure.”
Whittemore said Schlange possesses other attributes that he looks for besides technical skills.
“What I really like about Kevin,” he said, “is his character, work ethic, attitude, coachability and intelligence. He’s a complete package.”
Schlange said he was happy with the way the Senators improved this season.
“We had a great year,” Schlange said. “We had a lot of returning players and we bonded well. We played better than we did the last couple of years and we were getting better at learning what we didn’t know.
“I enjoyed playing for Coach Cook, (Aaron) Thacker, (John) Valley and (Scott) Albins. I wish we would’ve done better – everyone does – but I had a lot of fun playing with everybody.”
Schlange said WNCC provides him with an opportunity to continue playing and improve his skills, which may in turn lead to other opportunities down the road.
“I want to play my two years there and see where it takes me,” he said. “I’d like to see if I can go to a Division I or if D.J. knows where I can play. If playing baseball isn’t in my future or if I’m through progressing, I can concentrate on my school and my career.
“If it ends, it will have been a great experience having played high school and college baseball. But I’m hoping the next two years go very well and go on to play somewhere else.”