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Sophomore's natural talent ends drought

McRae is Ike's first NOW selection in 12 years

Aug. 10, 2009

New Berlin — When the New Berlin Eisenhower Lions fell to eventual state runner-up Marquette in a sectional final July 24, the baseball season was far from over for sophomore catcher/pitcher Alex McRae.

McRae's traveling team, the Wisconsin Wildcats, played well into August. A team from Puerto Rico that McRae was on just finished a tournament in North Carolina. And on Tuesday and Wednesday, McRae was at a showcase event for college recruiters and professional scouts in Greensboro, N.C.

McRae takes his baseball seriously and, after a breakout campaign as the cleanup hitter for the Lions this summer, he became the first Eisenhower player to be named to the NOW All-Suburban Team since 1997.

"We encourage our players to play other sports so they see as many pressure situations as possible, no matter what the sport," Eisenhower coach Scott Schimmel said. "Alex has chosen not to play football this fall but will play some extra baseball. He's accomplished what we wanted his own way."

McRae batted cleanup as a freshman and he believes that experience parlayed his success as a sophomore. During the regular season, he batted .486 with 51 hits, including 10 doubles, one triple and two home runs. He also knocked in 33 runs and scored 30 with just five strikeouts.

"He's got a quiet confidence and natural talent," Schimmel said. "A very sound swing and consistent in all aspects of his game. We felt right away that he could handle that cleanup spot. The guy in that spot will get a lot of off-speed pitches. With as a consistent swing as he has, he was a natural for that spot."

When he was not catching, he often pitched and went 8-4 with a 2.52 ERA, four complete games, 74 strikeouts and 20 walks in 64 innings.

"Seeing the pitching last year and getting used to the bigger level of play got me ready for this year," McRae said. "This year, I batted fourth again. I knew I had to hit the ball well and get some runs in."

McRae's success was not overlooked by the fans. Online voters picked him 249 times for the NOW team, well ahead of fellow NOW catcher selection Eric Abel of West Allis Hale (124 votes).

"My whole family was calling all my relatives and getting them to vote, and a lot of my friends and guys on the team voted for me too," McRae said.

McRae is excited about his junior campaign.

"Next year, I think we're going to be a lot better," McRae said. "Next year is our year."

FAB FIVE

Alex McRae is just the fifth Eisenhower player named to the All-Suburban team in its 20-year history:

2009: McRae, catcher

1997: Sean Laurich, infield

1993: Joe Kelenic, outfield

1992: Mike Vance, outfield

1990: Ron Karvala, infield

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