By Cooper Perkins
Special to the City Times
In the wake of the first league championship in franchise history, the Rafters have announced their Most Valuable Player, Pitcher of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Postseason Most Valuable Player awards.
In his second season as a member of the Rafters, Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) not only showed marked improvement, but also established himself as a staying force in the outfield, the clubhouse, and the middle of the Rafters’ lineup in the process of being selected the team’s 2016 Most Valuable Player. While Woodcock, who played both corner outfield positions for the Rafters, missed the Rafters’ postseason run due to injury, the left-handed batter was a force in high-pressure situations all summer. In addition to stroking the ball at a .299 clip with a team-best nine home runs and team-leading 39 RBI, Woodcock consistently produced in key situations for the Rafters, notching a number of game-winning hits both as a starter and off the bench. A native of Illinois, Woodcock is slated to be a junior this fall at SIU-Edwardsville.
Following a summer season in which he shattered the Rafters’ previous single-season saves record, Garrett Schilling (Xavier) has been named the Rafters’ 2016 Pitcher of the Year. Following his breakthrough sophomore season with the Big East Champion Xavier Musketeers, Schilling dominated Northwoods League competition by converting 18 of 19 possible save opportunities and posting a 1.90 ERA with 40 strikeouts compared to just eight walks. In addition to his selection as the team’s Pitcher of the Year, Schilling was recognized as a Third-Team Summer Collegiate All-American and both a Northwoods League mid-season and postseason all-star. Schilling enters his junior season at Xavier in the spring.
Catcher Scott Kapers (Valparaiso) has been named the Rafters’ Defensive Player of the Year after anchoring a catching corps that handled the most prolific pitching staff in team history. In addition to helping the club’s pitching staff to a franchise-record 3.41 team ERA, Kapers masterfully controlled opposing running games. Demonstrating the league’s respect for Kapers’ defensive prowess, he was among the four Rafters selected to the 2016 Northwoods League Major League Dreams Showcase by professional scouts. Kapers will be a sophomore at Valparaiso during the upcoming school year.
In addition to a successful regular season, catcher Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago) etched his name in Rafter history with a postseason performance that the city of Wisconsin Rapids will not soon forget. In the process of earning the Rafters’ 2016 Postseason Most Valuable Player Award, Calabrese swung the bat at an astounding .625 rate (10-for16) with two home runs and 10 runs batted in across just four games. Calabrese offered Rafter fans the most compelling moment of the season when he slugged a two-run walk-off home run to lift the Rafters to a 5-4 victory in game one of the Summer Collegiate World Series. In his unforgettable postseason, Calabrese led the Rafters in every triple crown category as he helped the team to the first league title in franchise history. Calabrese looks to parlay his postseason success into his junior season at Illinois-Chicago this upcoming year.