Baseball: Area baseball season previewBaseball action starts Monday and area teams are preparing for successful seasons. Zumbrota-Mazeppa will attempt to defend its Hiawatha Valley League title while replacing multiple key players and Cannon Falls brings back several top players from a 13-7 season last year.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
Baseball action starts Monday and area teams are preparing for successful seasons. Zumbrota-Mazeppa will attempt to defend its Hiawatha Valley League title while replacing multiple key players and Cannon Falls brings back several top players from a 13-7 season last year.
2011 record: 8-11, 5-7 Dunn-St. Croix
Key returning players: Cole Carroll, Brody Olson, Ryan Erickson, Charlie Raethke, Jacob Lerum, Brian Johnson, Billy Dondlinger
Key losses: Adam Baader, Collin Welter, Cody Raethke
The Pepin/Alma baseball team graduated two players from last year’s squad and with the remainder of the roster back the Eagles come back as a more seasoned team.
The losses — Adam Baader and Collin Welter — are significant. Baader hit .353 with nine RBI and Welter led the team with 12 RBI and scored 12 runs while hitting .273.
Cole Carroll led the team in hitting last season as a freshman by hitting .404. Carroll pitched nine innings as well last season and went 1-0 with a 1.56 ERA.
Jacob Lerum returns after a junior season where he hit .325 and so does Brody Olson, who finished tied for second on the team with nine RBI and hit .298.
Lerum went 1-4 as a pitcher last season and had an ERA of 5.66 in 38 innings.
Cannon Falls Bombers
2011 record: 13-9, 12-7 HVL
Key returning players: Braxton Lindow, Cedric Dicke, Michael Growette, Noah Callister, Trevor Sullivan, Hunter Blakeslee
Key losses: Nate Zibolski, Aaron Nerud, Sean Serres, Blake Singewald, Jeremy Schroeder
Pitching depth will aid the Cannon Falls baseball team as head coach Bucky Lindow has seven arms to choose from this season after the team went 13-9 last season.
At the top of the pitching depth chart is Michael Growette. He went 6-2 with a 2.68 ERA while Noah Callister saved three games and had a 1.24 ERA. Bryce Boyle-Hoban had a 4.67 ERA and 20 strikeouts last season.
The Bombers, who lost 6-3 to Byron in the section playoffs last season, also return a potent lineup with seniors Cedric Dicke and Braxton Lindow. Dicke hit .447, slugged .592 and had 19 RBI. Lindow finished with a .384 average, seven doubles and a .575 slugging percentage.
Cannon Falls also brings back senior Trevor Sullivan, who hit .329 with 19 RBI and Boyle-Hoban, who hit .328 with six doubles. Blakeslee hit .324 with 10 RBI as a freshman last year and Callister hit .294.
“I’m excited to get a chance to work with this group one more time,” Bucky Lindow said. “They work hard, hustle and execute, which makes it very enjoyable to go to the ballpark every day.
2011 record: 8-11, 7-7 Middle Border
Key returning players: Brady Schroeder, Dennis Schutz, Jacob Betthauser, Brandon Voelker, James Georgakas
Key losses: Caleb Dressen, Bryce Stockwell
With a pitcher like James Georgakas the Ellsworth baseball team expects to be in a lot of games this season.
Georgakas had a 1.96 ERA in 57 innings to go along with 69 strikeouts and just eight walks. He held opponents to a .230 average and had a 1.04 WHIP. He also hit .304 with 11 RBI.
Panthers head coach Steve Block also can call upon Brady Schroeder to pitch and the team will rely upon the defense behind the pitchers.
“Pitching and defense should be the strength,” Block said. “I don’t see any glaring weaknesses, just some question marks.”
Schroeder also did some damage from the plate last season, hitting .391 and scoring 17 runs.
2011 record: 6-16, 2-10 HVL
Key returning players: Andy Johnson, Thomas Ramboldt
Key losses: Brian Strauss, Dustin Thomforde, Charlie Dicke
Goodhue has some holes to fill this season after graduating three significant contributors.
Those contributors included Brian Strauss, who led the team in batting average, home runs, RBI, innings pitched and ERA. The Wildcats also graduated Dustin Thomforde, who finished third on the team in hitting and Charlie Dicke, who had the second highest batting average on the team.
Where does Goodhue begin for this season?
With Andy Johnson, who enters his third year of varsity. Johnson hit .304 with four RBI, three doubles and five stolen bases.
“Although we are a very young team, we have quite a few players returning who were able to get experience in a varsity-level baseball game last year,” head coach Eric Schofield said.
The Wildcats have just three seniors on the team this season and pitching will be a concern for Schofield.
“We need to attack the strike zone as a pitching staff and make routine plays as a defense,” Schofield said. “If we can limit our mistakes and avoid giving up big innings, we will be successful.”
Lake City Tigers
2011 record: 6-14, 5-7 HVL
Key returning players: Reid Lundell, Ben Schramski, Dillon Simonic
Key losses: Zach Griebenow
Lake City has three returning starters back from last year’s 6-14 season and all three batted .300 or better.
Sophomore Reid Lundell leads the group of returners with a .349 average last season. Lundell also went 2-1 on the mound with a 3.71 ERA. Lundell struck out 31 in 38 2/3 innings and walked 13.
Dillon Simonic hit .316 as a sophomore last season and Schramski hit .300 as a sophomore.
The Tigers ended last season on a six-game losing streak and fell to Caledonia/Spring Grove in the first round of the Section 1AA playoffs.
2011 record: 19-6, 10-2 HVL Blue
Key returning players: Zach VanOstrand, Cody Krueger, Kevin Niebuhr, Jordan Thompson
Key losses: Cody Lodermeier, Ryan Paukert, Decker Starr, Josh Shirley
The defending Hiawatha Valley League champions will have to retool this season after going 19-6 and 10-2 in the conference.
The Cougars graduated standouts Cody Lodermeier, Josh Shirley, Ryan Paukert and Decker Starr after they fell 5-1 to Byron in the final four of the Section 1AA playoffs.
“We will have a different look this year as we will be a very young team, only having two seniors,” head coach Chuck Ohm said. “We will rely on some underclassmen to develop as the season progresses. Our team hopes to compete well in an always strong HVL Conference.”
Z-M does bring back starters Zach VanOstrand, who is coming off a wrist injury, Cody Krueger, Kevin Niebuhr and Jordan Thompson.