Jacob Cates

Jacob Cates is one of several newcomers to the Home Talent League's Cottage Grove Firemen this season. The catcher formerly played for Marshall, which folded its team after the 2018 season. Other former Marshall players now playing for the Firemen including Ricky Leske, Jake Miller and Jordon Gomez.

Ricky Leske has moved around a lot in his baseball playing career.

He played Little League and tournament ball in Sun Prairie, participated on the Madison Edgewood High School baseball team before graduating in 2017, and played two seasons with Marshall of the Home Talent League. He’s about to enter his junior year at Iowa’s Loras College, where he also plays baseball.

After numerous losing seasons, the Marshall team folded after the 2018 campaign.

Members of the Cottage Grove Firemen contacted some of their players to see if they might want to join the Firemen. Fortunately, many of them, including Leske, agreed to play.

Cottage Grove entered this week with a 5-7 record in the Sunday League, and it’s hoped the former members of the Marshall roster can help the Firemen for a playoff spot in the league’s Eastern Section.

Leske, who has been playing the outfield, said he has enjoyed his short time with Cottage Grove.

“It’s a great group of guys looking to win some ball games,” Leske said. “I remember playing against these guys the past two summers at Marshall. If we come back and make plays, and keep doing what we are doing, we will be all right.”

Leske was Marshall’s leading hitter in 2018 with 17 hits in 49 at-bats for a .347 average. Manager Pat Hawker said Leske was a big acquisition for the Firemen.

“He’s a big addition to this team with great speed, and he can pinch hit,” Hawker said. “There are a lot of uses we could get from Ricky.”

Along with Leske, three other former Marshall players are expected to do great things in Cottage Grove.

Jordon Gomez, a Capitol South Conference player of the year in his senior year at Marshall High School, hit .235 last season and was one of Marshall’s bright spots. Gomez’ contributions may be as a pitcher where he already put in some innings.

“He doesn’t show a lot of emotion,” Hawker said. “He just goes out there and throws strikes and lets the defense do the work.”

Other former Marshall players now on the Cottage Grove squad include catcher Jacob Cates, who had 16 hits including a home run last season and a .258 batting average, and Jake Miller, who was Marshall’s leading hitter in 2017 with 25 hits in 55 at-bats for a .455 average.

“It’s nice, because now we have a lot of depth, and we have options for the infield and outfield that should be beneficial for years to come,” Hawker said.

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