MAYO BASEBALL PREVIEW Coach -- Jim Sonju, fifth year. Assistants are Brent Henze and Jeff Anderson. B squad coach is Joe Cicora. Ninth-grade coach is Tate Cummins.
Top returnees -- Seniors:; Jim Strain, pitcher, shortstop; Justin Sokol, pitcher, first base; Tim Gerlesberger, utility infielder; Adam Sikkink, pitcher. Juniors: Josh Brady, second base; Tim Wahl, catcher; Matt Meyer, pitcher.
Others -- Juniors: Tony Konicek, center field; Ben Martini, pitcher, outfield; Ryan Miller, third base; Ben Heydt, outfield; Tom Senne, infield, catcher, outfield; Pat Noll, utility; Mike Kavros, infield; Schuyler Townsend, pitcher, outfield; Mark Weiby, outfield; Sam Kildahl, outfield. Sophomores: Nick Larson, outfield.
Outlook -- The Spartans have been to state two of the last three years and won the Big Nine four straight years before narrowly losing out to Century last year. Mayo has also had the Big Nine Player of the Year for the last five years.
Despite losing six starters from last year who are now playing college baseball, the Spartans will be among the favorites in the conference. With the pitching of Sokol and Strain, and the versatility and hitting of Strain and Gerlesberger, the Spartans have a lot of hope. Sokol has gained 30 pounds since last season and looks strong, while Matt Meyer is a 6-4 left-hander who is also looking good.
Big Nine -- Mayo; has won four of the last five Big Nine championships. Sonju expects Century and Winona to be among the top competition for this year's title. The Spartans are ranked second in the state in the first coaches poll.
Last year -- Mayo beat Century twice in the finals of the Section One, Class AAA tournament to advance to the state tournament. The Spartans then made it all the way to the state championship game before falling to Cretin-Derham Hall. Mayo finished with a 25-5 record.
Sonju -- "We have a lot of team speed, but we don't have the power we had last year. With only four seniors on the team, our juniors will determine how far the team will go."
April 9 -- Winona
April 12 -- at Century
April 16 -- Albert Lea
April 20 -- John Marshall
April 23 -- at Faribault
April 25 -- Owatonna
April 27 -- at Blaine vs. Blaine and Anoka
April 30 -- at Mankato East (2)
May 2 -- Austin
May 4 -- at Winona
May 7 -- Century
May 9 -- at; Albert Lea
May 10 -- Mankato; West (2)
May 13 -- at Austin
May 14 -- at John Marshall
May 16 -- Faribault
; May 23 -- Section; play begins