10-Time Land O Lakes Grand Champions
5-Time SWABA Class A Champions
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Overall Record: 7 - 6

2016 Five O's Off To Very Promising Start

By Dan Flaherty | 5/25/2016
The last time the Oconomowoc Five-O's made the playoffs was in 2012. They've been close in recent years and have had some big wins. But at the end of the day the second term of Barack Obama's administration has not been a fruitful one for the O's. The early signs of 2016 indicates that the nation's political system might not be the only thing changing - the Five-O's are bearing all the marks of a playoff team.

There are three reasons for optimism - the veteran core showing they've still got it, an infusion of young talent and a restructuring of the league itself that may rebound to Oconomowoc's benefit.

Let's start with the vets. Josh Bouche has electrified the league with a .529 batting average and seven RBI as he prepares to build a case for MVP and challenge Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Manny Machado for the title of "best player in baseball." Meanwhile, Derek Nelson is batting .500, while Jeff Rhoads is hitting .333.

And while it's a stretch to call 22-year-old Chandler Ziemann a veteran, the 22-year-old has been with the Five-O's for four years now and carries himself with experience beyond his years. Ziemann is another .300 hitter in the early going and capable of taking that number much higher.

No one wins without pitching and a hot topic during the summer was whether Jordan Murray could be the #1 starter for a playoff team. Critics ranging from Colin Cowherd to Skip Bayless insisted it could never happen. But Murray has two early wins under his belt and his 3.57 ERA continues a trend of improvement that began with his LOL debut in 2013.

What Oconomowoc needed most in its lineup was just a couple more young bodies and with Aaron Benz and Chris Trafton, appear to have found them. Trafton, a fine defensive centerfielder and leadoff man has an on-base percentage of .778 - yes, he's on base more than three times out of every four plate appearances. That's called table-setting. And table-clearing would be what Benz delivers in the middle of the order. He's slugging .765, including a towering home run deep off the pavilion at Roosevelt already to his credit.

The Land O'Lakes League itself moved into the modern era, going from an 11-team league to one with 14 teams and two divisions. They passed on the chance to add Rutgers and Nebraska and instead went for bigger game. A second team in West Bend was added. Menomonee Falls returned to the league after a temporary absence. And just like the NFL could no longer let Los Angeles stand vacant, the LOL brought baseball to Milwaukee, with the addition of the Beavers.

The result - beyond the lucrative TV contract from Fox that will put a doubleheader on FS1 every Sunday with a prime-time game coming next year - is a divisional structure that has put Oconomowoc in with other Lake Country teams. There will be three playoff teams from each division. If you concede two spots to three-time defending Grand Champion Pewaukee and another to playoff perennial Sussex, the door is wide open for the third spot.

Oconomowoc has already beaten two of its four rivals for that berth, Hartland and North Lake. And they have reason to be hopeful that prevailing over Monches and Merton will also happen.

That's what makes Memorial Day Weekend so exciting. Oconomowoc hosts Merton in a big game on Saturday, and then has an opportunity to make a major statement on Sunday when they visit Sussex.

Solid veterans, good young talent and a favorable alignment. Those are three good reasons to be hopeful in Oconomowoc. And lest we forget, the Five-O's are also doing this under-the-radar thing called winning baseball games, with a 3-1 record and the one loss arguably being the most impressive - a 3-2 loss in Pewaukee with the tying run reaching third in the ninth. It promises to be a sizzling summer at Roosevelt.