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Valley Catholic baseball trio closes careers in All-Star style

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic catcher Liam Meagher and Carter Buuck will play together again at Concordia Wisconsin University next fall after four years of succes at Valley.

The numbers and achievements associated with Carter Buuck, Liam Meagher, Sam Teague and Liam Walsh — one of the better baseball foursomes to ever don a Valley Catholic jersey — are staggering.

79 wins over four years. Two Lewis and Clark league championships and a pair of runner-up finishes. And, of course there’s the trip to the 3A state quarterfinals last year and the trek to the semis in the quartet’s swan song. Each season Buuck, Meagher, Teague and Walsh suited up for Valley, the program’s victory tally soared. They were pillars of success, the keystones carting Valley into state title contender status that changed the culture of Valiant baseball because, as Teague said, they “wanted to be better than everybody else”.

“We wanted people to think we were the best out there,” said Teague. “It was a group of guys that always worked as hard as they could and played as hard as they could. We left a winning legacy. You can talk about anything you want, but we won. That says more about who we are than anything else. We went out there and did whatever it took to get the job done to win.”

That winning mentality, of trying to be the best, Buuck said, comes from within surely, but more so from the athletic culture at Valley Catholic. Buuck pointed to athletic director Joel Sobotka establishing an “All-In” mantra on the boys’ basketball team two years ago that’s permeated all through the entire Valiant athletic program.

“You go from any athlete to the varsity baseball or basketball team to JV swimming, anybody’s going to work as hard as they can no matter the outcome,” said Buuck. “The whole school has bought into it. Every single play, every single pitch, every race, Valley Catholic is going to give it their all. Hopefully, that’s come from not only in baseball but in all sports.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic centerfielder Sam Teague is taking his talents and blinding speed to Samford University after taking home 3A Co-Player of the Year honors.

Apart from their all around skills and what they could do in the box score, these four captains had the personality that teams rally around. They were cohesive presences in the locker room, the type of guys who lifted the spirits of a team with their industrious demeanor and attitude. Buuck said he was proud of the fact he and his three co-captains were part of a winning program, but anticipates their abiding indention is carrying on a hard-working tradition.

“I hope we established a culture,” said Buuck. “My brother and (Walsh’s) brother came in before us and started, so we hope we put it in place. Hopefully, Valley Catholic baseball will be a force for years, and I’m sure they will be with Coach Thomas and the group of guys they have. I’m really happy about what we left there.”

Meagher said their drive to pit themselves against the best started as freshmen when he and Buuck had roles on the 2011 team that finished second in league and made the first round of the 3A playoffs.

“We got hungry and kept wanting it every year,” said Meagher. “Every year, our goal was to win state and win league. We made a good run at it every year and we worked hard. I’m proud of that. I think there’s a bar to be upheld. I think people need to work and keep that standard going and keep the program working well.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic catcher Liam Meagher went 3-3 with a pair of RBIs to help the the West hold off the East, 3-2 at the 3A/2A/1A all-star series at Linfield College on Sunday.

On Sunday at the 3A/2A/1A All-Star series at Linfield College, Buuck, Meagher and Teague closed their high school careers with a bang, leading the West to a 3-2 win over the East in the series finale. Buuck was completely close-fisted on the mound, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth while striking out 16 batters in eight innings of work. The lefty was named the series’ most outstanding player. Meagher went 3-3 with two RBIs and caught Buuck behind the dish.

“Once I get into a groove, Meagher and I like to work fast and put the pressure on,” said Buuck. “We were able to do that and stay ahead of the hitters. Luckily, it worked it out.”

Teague came off the bench and made a game-saving catch in center, getting on his horse and using his Division One speed to retreat to the warning track and haul in a deep fly ball in the eighth with the go-ahead runs on the pond.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic head coach Pat Thomas guided his trio of Valiant seniors and the rest of the West All-Stars to a series win over the East in the 3A/2A/1A all-star series.

“I just got a good jump and kept tracking it...it kept carrying and carrying but I got under it and made the play,” said Teague.

Buuck and Meagher will again join forces at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, where Buuck has a long line of family ties. Buuck’s grandfather was the school’s president in the 1970’s and the gym and softball field are named in his honor. Buuck’s dad David and uncles Steve and Tom were All-American football players at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, WI who are current members of the CUW Athletic Hall of Fame. Buuck’s older brother, Taylor, just completed his senior season on the Falcons’ baseball team.

Naturally, the pull of having such lineage at CUW piqued Buuck’s interest, even after Santa Clara University extended the lefty a scholarship in the fall. Falcons’ new head coach Eddie Morgan and CUW couldn’t offer Buuck the chance to play Division One baseball, which was one of the southpaw’s aspirations as a kid growing up. But, what Morgan could propose was the chance pitch almost immediately and develop into a hurler capable of getting drafted into the majors in the near future.

Buuck said now that he can focus on baseball year-round after years of splitting time between football, basketball and baseball, he’ll be able to get into a helpful strength program that’ll add velocity to his fastball and muscle to his lean frame.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic pitcher Carter Buuck tries to duck around the Easts catcher and touch home plate at the 3A/2A/1A all-star series at Linfield College.

“I knew I could achieve my dream of playing D1 baseball, but looking big-picture, Concordia really believes they’ll give the opportunity to go to the draft,” said Buuck. “That’s going to be their mission over my four years. They really believe I have a high ceiling and the tools to get selected in four years, so that’s really the goal right now. I want to win first. Hopefully, me and Meagher can lead them to a conference championship and maybe a national championship and then whatever happens, happens in the future.”

Meagher might not have Buuck’s ancestry at CUW, but at the urging of his battery mate, the power-hitting catcher took a visit to the campus that sits just outside of Milwaukee. Meagher liked Morgan, the program’s progress and the chance to play four more years with his best friend Buuck.

“He sold it and I bought it, but I’m really excited,” said Meagher. “I really have to earn my spot because (Morgan) is bringing in a huge recruiting class this year, almost a whole new team. But, we can play our first year if we want to work hard. I think we’re ready to go. Our skills have matured. Mentally, we’re matured. I think we’re ready for college ball.”

Teague signed with Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, last fall, confirming the fast-paced centerfielder would continue his baseball career on the next level. With extended family hailing from Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina, the left-hander knew he wanted to attend school in the South, so he got in touch with the coaches and took part in the Bulldogs’ prospect camp in October. Under the watchful eye of the Bulldog staff and incoming players, Teague ran the best 60-yard dash time of his life and notched a couple of hits during the scrimmage to secure a scholarship offer from Samford.

“There was a lot of pressure to play well that day, but I went out and performed,” Teague said. “ I was on top of my game and just impressed them, I guess. It’s a dream to be able to go down there and play. I love everything about the school. The community is great and I loved the faith-based part of it. That was one of the biggest reasons I decided to go. I think I’m going to have a lot of fun.”




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