By Dan Truttschel ~ Sports Correspondent

Throughout the spring baseball season, Westosha Central coach Randy Appleby often marveled at the efforts, skills and leadership of his senior class.

Apparently, his fellow Southern Lakes Conference coaches felt the same way.

Central placed six athletes on the All-SLC teams, all seniors, including first-team selections Dalton Sjong (pitcher) and Sam Shelton (outfielder).

Joining that duo are second-team picks Mike Michelau (outfielder) and Mike Sorensen (infielder) and honorable mention selections Tom Neave (infielder) and Luke Podella (outfielder).

Central tied for second with Burlington in the SLC at 9-5. The Falcons were 13-12 overall, including an 8-1 loss to eventual state qualifier Kenosha Bradford in regional play.

Sjong anchored the Falcons’ pitching staff all season, especially after a bit of a slow start early in the year.

“He had a great year,” Appleby said. “He really came around control-wise and just kind of dominated at the end of the season. He gave us a chance to win conference. We were right in it until the last game.”

Appleby said Sjong also led the Falcons in other ways as well.

“He’s one of the guys who gets along with everybody,” Appleby said. “He’s very social. He wants to make sure everybody is included, that they’re happy.”

Appleby said Sjong still hasn’t decided where he will play collegiately, but it’s pretty certain he will continue his career somewhere.

Shelton led the Central offense throughout the spring, as he put up some big offensive numbers just about every time he took the field.

Nagging injuries could have slowed Shelton down, but he refused to let that happen, Appleby said.

“That’s just the kind of kid Sam is,” he said. “He loves baseball. He’s a gamer. He’s the kind of player who stays after practice and takes another three or four rounds of batting practice.

“That’s how much he wants to get better and how much he loves the game.”

Michelau came back to the program after he missed his junior year while he rehabilitated from injuries he suffered in a serious car accident.

Appleby was more than happy to see Michelau, who will play collegiate volleyball, walk into practice the first day.

“He’s an outstanding athlete,” Appleby said. “After batting ninth for a couple games, he ended up being our leadoff hitter and started every game in center field. He really sparked us offensively. In the outfield, he ran everything down.”

Sorensen, who will join Shelton at a two-year school in Minnesota, could have been a first-team pick at shortstop, Appleby said, because of the strong season he put in.

“I thought he was the best shortstop in the league this year,” Appleby said. “He had a great season. He just wants to win. … Mike’s a great kid. I was so proud of him for the season he had.”

Central’s last two picks, Neave and Podella, also put in solid efforts in their last high school season, Appleby said.

“(Their honor) was well deserved,” he said. “Luke batted fourth for us all year. He came through most of the time and was basically our number two pitcher. He did what he had could to help the team.

“Tommy is one of those kids who didn’t play a whole lot last year, but he stepped right in (this year). He was one of our leaders vocally. He had a good season at the plate and at second base.”

Burlington senior outfielder Luke Syens was named the SLC Player of the Year.



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