Milwaukee Panthers Baseball Returns This Weekend
The Milwaukee Brewers aren’t the only baseball team returning to Milwaukee this weekend. The Milwaukee Panthers will also make their 2017 home-field debut with a three-game series with their Horizon League rival University of Illinois-Chicago Flames, starting on Friday afternoon at Henry Aaron Field in Glendale. Friday’s game has a 2 p.m. start time, while Saturday and Sunday’s contests begin at 1 p.m.
The Panthers come home after a rough start to the season. They opened with a 7-8 mark in non-conference play before dropping their first six Horizon League games – three-game sweeps at the hands of Northern Kentucky and Wright State. Last season, the Panthers managed a 17-11 conference mark, good enough for second place. UIC is off a 4-1 start in-conference and is 12-7 overall.
The Panthers are led by junior catcher Daulton Varsho, son of former Major Leaguer Gary Varsho and named for Gary’s former Phillies teammate, Darren Daulton. The younger Varsho is doing his best to live up to his names. He is batting .338 on the season, with a .448 OBP and a team-leading five homers. Earlier in the month, Varsho was named to the Johnny Bench Award ‘watch list,’ a the pool from which the award’s finalists will be drawn later in the season. The Bench award goes to best NCAA Division 1 catcher in the nation. Last season, Varsho batted .381 with 8 homers and was named the Horizon League’s player of the year. He presently ranks at Baseball America’s 98th best catching prospect for the MLB draft in June.
Varsho is expected to be drafted and, should he get the call, he would be the 14th Panther to receive the honor. There are a handful of former Panthers currently active in pro baseball, including Josh Uhren, who was taken in the 5th round by the Brewers in 2013, and briefly appeared with the AA-level Biloxi Shuckers in 2016, matching the highest level at which any UWM alum has yet appeared.
The Panthers’ home park, Henry Aaron field, is actually the oldest in the area, opening inside of Lincoln Park in 1957. It’s a cozy facility, with a capacity of just 500, but recently underwent a $200,000 makeover. The upgrades included replacing the infield grass with synthetic turf – a necessity with the spring collegiate schedule – and a new scoreboard. Admission to all home games is free.
The Panthers return to Milwaukee on April 13-15 for a weekend series with Youngstown State, and again on April 28-30 for a series again Oakland. Click here for a complete schedule and other team info.