Danville Dans Baseball

Memorable experience overseas for Dans, KU players

BY JAKE SERMERSHEIM sports@dancomnews.com

The chance to travel across the world is an experience that one will not forget any time soon.

The chance to represent your country playing the game you love is a memory that will last a lifetime for any player.

Three Danville Dans, from Kansas University, rejoined the team on Saturday after this experience. Steve Washilewski, Jonah Ulane, and Mateo Zunica are rejoining the Dans after representing team USA in the 2018 World University Baseball Championship in Taiwan.

“Going over there and seeing a different style of baseball was a great experience,” said Ulane. “Being able to represent my country and school is something I will never forget.”

Team USA finished its time in Taiwan with a 3-3 record, making it all the way to the bronze medal game where they lost to Korea 7-4.

“We got to play teams from Russia, Japan, Korea, seeing kids from different backgrounds was pretty cool,” said Washilewski. “As a team, we did really well. It was more of an exuberance. As a team, we did what we could, we wanted to win gold.”

The returning players could very well put a spark in a key part of the season.

In four starts this summer with the Dans, Washilewski was 4-0 with a 1.82 earned run average. Washilewski was fresh off a combined no-hitter and pitcher of the week award leading up to his departure.

“I’m just trying to keep the momentum going from the first part of the season. I have to keep going strong. I need to hit my spots and keep it going strong into the playoffs,” said Washilewski.

In two games in the World University Baseball Championship, Washilewski had an 0-1 record in two starts, with a 5.40 ERA. Despite different results in Taiwan, Washilewski looks to become a productive piece for the Dans again.

Upon arriving back at Danville Stadium, Washilewski discovered he no longer had possession of his Dans belt. He suspected a teammate had taken it.

“Yeah, it was Kobe Kato.”

Kato denies the allegation.

Not only does the Dans starting rotation improve with the arrival of the new players, but the Dans got a piece of the bullpen back. Ulane was a regular out of the bullpen before the Championship. He sported a 1-2 record with a 3.44 ERA in 12.2 innings pitched.

Like Washilewski, he was not in peak form while in Taiwan. He struggled in 5.2 innings with a 9.53 ERA.

“I think going over to Taiwan was a good experience, with my coaches we could talk about what went well in Danville,” said Ulane. “Coming back I have some new things to work on based on my good and bad outings.”

The top of the lineup also receives a productive piece of the order back in Zunica. He held a .271 batting average in 19 games with 16 hits and six RBIs.

Zunica sported a .222 batting average while in Taiwan.

“I thought myself and the guys brought good energy and it was a little taste of what we had to work on in the fall and we will get ready in the spring,” said Zunica.

While three Kansas players left Danville, four came back.

Jared Padgett joined his Kansas teammates in Danville.

Padgett, a right-handed pitcher, did not pitch while in Taiwan. He was recovering from an arm injury but is ready to pitch in Danville and is looking to make an impact.

“I’m just looking to come in and build confidence and throw strikes and get back to where I used to be,” said Padgett. “Hopefully, I do a great job of it.”

The experience was a once in a lifetime trip for these players, but there were varying responses.

“It was a cool experience playing teams from all around the world. It was cool seeing how other countries went about their business before and during a game,” said Zunica “It was a cool culture change from what I am used to seeing.”

While their teammate had a slightly different response.

“It was a ton different. It was cool, a different culture,” said Padgett. “I enjoyed the first two or three days then after that, the food was not anything spectacular. I missed the U S of A for sure, but it was a once in a lifetime trip.”

Unfortunately for the Kansas players, they were unable to play in their first game back against the Springfield Sliders.

Posted 20 weeks ago