Aaron Palensky fully expected to play his sophomore baseball season for Southeast Community College.
But things rapidly changed for the Papillion-La Vista South graduate. Nebraska coach Darin Erstad was interested , and Palensky said yes to the Huskers.
“The first time I heard they even had interest in me was about 10 minutes after the last game of the year. And I committed about a week or a week and a half later,” Palensky said. “The process went pretty quick.”
Palensky’s freshman season for Southeast ended with a loss on May 20, but it was a spring that opened eyes and opportunities for the outfielder.
Palensky batted .428, hit 18 home runs and 23 doubles, drove in 75, scored 72 and stole 22 bases. He was named an NJCAA first-team All-American and is the honorary captain of The World-Herald’s two-year team.
“When we had people on base, he hit the ball hard. He’s one of those guys who’s a real consistent hitter and that led to the year he had,” Southeast coach Dion Parks said. “It was just an outstanding season, hitting the ball all over the park.”
Those numbers got Nebraska’s attention. Palensky visited the campus soon after the Storm’s season ended.
“Going into my visit, I knew Nebraska had all the nice stuff. But when I went there, it was more than I expected,” said Palensky, who is playing summer ball for a team in Waynesboro, Virginia. “Everything was top of the line. After visiting there, I was like, ‘This is where I need to go.’ ”
Parks said the ability to hit will be one of Palensky’s assets when trying to find a spot in the Nebraska lineup next season.
“The ball comes off the bat with a different sound,” Parks said of Palensky. “The other thing is his work ethic and character and maturity will help him continue his path down baseball.”
Southeast won 42 games and fell one win short of a second straight trip to the NJCAA Division II World Series.
But the Storm were loaded with talent as Palensky, whose brothers Sam and Ben also played at Southeast before moving on to UNO, was one of seven players to sign with Division I programs. The Storm finished fourth in Division II in homers with 67 and fifth in stolen bases with 163.
Another player who put up big offensive numbers was Bellevue shortstop Kory Longaker, the captain of the NAIA/Division III team. In his first season with the Bruins, Longaker led Bellevue in six categories, including batting average (.399), runs scored (63) and doubles (16). He also hit 10 homers, stole 21 bases and drove in 47 runs.
Another standout shortstop, Doane’s Tommy Anderson, hit .410 and set a school record with 19 doubles.
There’s also a deep pitching staff on the NAIA team. Concordia’s Nick Little was named the GPAC pitcher of the year as he went 9-2 with a 2.36 ERA, while Hastings freshman Vinny Schmidt won all eight of his decisions, allowing three earned runs in 53-2/3 innings. He struck out 58 and walked 11.
The honorary captain of the NCAA Division II team is UNK’s Alex Achtermann, who started games at five positions : first base, third, right field, designated hitter and pitcher.
Achtermann, who was on last year’s All-Nebraska juco team when he played at Western Nebraska, was named a third-team All-American after he hit .413 with 15 home runs and 57 RBIs. On the mound, he was 6-1 with a 4.45 ERA.
He was part of a potent Loper lineup ; all of their starters batted better than .290 and the team batted .331. This was the final season for UNK’s baseball team , which the school cut due to budgetary constraints.
All-Nebraska college baseball teams
NCAA DIVISION II
C: Dallas Schramm, sr., UNK, .318, 13 HRs, 65 RBIs
1B: Tanner Simons, sr., WSC, .333, 9 HR, 14 SBs
2B: Andrew Hanson, fr., WSC, .320, 7 HR, 29 RBIs
SS: Peter Carlson, fr., UNK, .302, 39 RBIs
3B: Calvin Rudolph, so., UNK, .291, 23 RBIs
OF: Brandon Hernandez, jr., UNK, .383, 27 2Bs, 46 RBIs
OF: Travis Miller, jr., WSC, .304, 7 HRs, 38 RBIs
OF: Brett Young, jr., UNK, .356, 11 HRs, 39 RBIs
DH: Bryce Bisenius, so., WSC, .394, 39 RBIs
*U: Alex Achtermann, jr., UNK, .413, 57 RBIs, 6-1
P: Josh Cooper, jr., UNK, 7-3, 2.70 ERA
P: Aaron Ras, fr., WSC, 5-2, 4.02 ERA
P: Eric Sandoz, jr., UNK, 2.97 ERA, 9 saves
P: Lawson Zenner, fr., WSC, 3.60 ERA, 6 saves
*— denotes honorary captain
Honorable mention: UNK, Scott Platt, Josh Robinson, Ty Roseberry, Thomas Ruwe. WSC, Alex Logelin, Hunter Wienhoff.
C: Travis Tanaka, jr., Bellevue, .332, 5 HRs, 35 RBIs
1B: Riley Baasch, so., Bellevue, .316, 17 HRs, 59 RBIs
2B: Christian Meza, jr., Concordia, .405, 41 RBIs, 14 2Bs
*SS: Kory Longaker, jr., Bellevue, .397, 48 RBIs, 21 SBs
3B: Thomas Sautel, jr., Concordia, .371, 5 HRs, 40 RBIs
OF: Bryan Ventura Castro, sr., Peru State, .406, 57 RBIs, 23 SBs
OF: Gary Dixon, jr., Bellevue, .341, 8 HRs, 32 RBIs
OF: Trent Jeary, jr., Doane, .377, 32 RBIs, 8 SBs
DH: Tanner Bos, sr., Midland, .354, 40 RBIs, 13 SBs
U: Tommy Anderson, sr., Doane, .410, 19 2Bs, 39 RBIs
P: Eddy Tavarez Cabrera, jr., Peru State, 8-3, 2.17 ERA
P: Reid Feeley, sr., Bellevue, 8-2, 2.73 ERA
P: Nick Little, so., Concordia, 9-2, 2.36 ERA
P: Vinny Schmidt, fr., Hastings, 8-0, 0.50 ERA
P: Billy Brand, jr., Midland, 4-1, 1.06 ERA, 4 saves
*— denotes honorary captain
Honorable mention: Bellevue, Max Dwyer, Stuart Eurich, JT Patterson. Concordia, Wade Council, Jake Fosgett, Cade Moring. Doane, Manny Armendariz, Carter Cummins, Jacob Duhey, Andy Theiler, Eduardo Yanez. Hastings, Eric Anderson, Bryce McMullen, Tynan O’Brien, Zack Petersen, Grant Svec. Midland, Hayden Bailey, Buddy Balsino, Dakota Cortese, Torrey Escamilla, Armando Fajardo. Nebraska Wesleyan, Jesse Maguire, Justus Stocks. Peru State, Gianfranco Garlobo, Eric Ocasio. York, Isaiah Bond, Billy Damon, Matt Lindsley, Jake Sola, DB Vidal.
C: Jonathan Bermudez, so., W. Nebraska, .354, 9 HRs, 41 RBIs
1B: Jake Sanford, so., McCook, .374, 12 HRs, 55 RBIs
2B: Christian Dumont, fr., Northeast, .366, 63 R, 19 SBs
SS: Masen Prososki, so., Southeast, .395, 44 RBIs, 49 SBs
3B: Brandan Maher, so., W. Nebraska, .331, 35 R, 35 RBIs
OF: Tanner Hunt, fr., Northeast, .325, 13 HRs, 46 RBIs
*OF: Aaron Palensky, fr., Southeast, .417, 18 HRs, 77 RBIs
OF: Drew Smith, fr., Northeast, .383, 11 HRs, 54 RBIs
DH: Brenton Davis, fr., Southeast, .353, 7 HRs, 56 RBIs
U: Alec Lee, so., Southeast, .325, 12 HRs, 53 RBIs
P: Alex Oehme, so., W. Nebraska, 2 CG, 4.37 ERA
P: Ruben Ramirez, so., Southeast, 3.21 ERA, 5 saves
P: Justin Reinkall, fr., Southeast, 8-3, 4.30 ERA
P: Kayleb Sanderson, so., Southeast, 9-1, 2.44 ERA
*— denotes honorary captain
Honorable mention: McCook, Mike Sookdeo, Tanner Zeggil. Northeast, Brennen Bales, Donovan Warren, Dylan Wright. Southeast, Chris Cornish, Will Hanafan, Trevor Jurjevich, Josh Lallier, Mark Timmins, Joseph Vargas. Western Nebraska, Nat Andresen, Zach Berg, Claude Bova, Esai Hernandez, Mitch Lightbody, Tyler Olson, Jacob Pekol, Blake Slaymaker, Harrison Yates.