Sooner or later, season to open
Athletics scheduled for game on Tuesday against Blooming Prairie
By Scott A. Kolb
The Lyle/Austin Pacelli baseball team will open the season with a road game against the Blooming Prairie Blossoms on Tuesday afternoon.
This rescheduled opener comes after two games were postponed for Lyle/Pacelli this week. Early season games against Glenville-Emmons and Granada-Huntley/East Chain/Martin Luther had to be pushed back on the schedule.
The only problem with next week’s opener is four players from Pacelli will be gone on a class trip to Washington, D.C. Seniors Sam Stier and Jordan Juenger, along with juniors Colin Sheehan and Kim Jihoon, will be absent for the season opener.
Stier is the top pitcher returning, so it looks like sophomore Cody Meyer will get the start on the mound in the opener for the L/P Athletics.
"Sam and Cody were the top pitchers last year and we expect them to get most of the innings again this season," L/P coach Steve Baumann said. "Cody has shown signs in pre-season practices of becoming a good pitcher, so he’ll push Sam for that top spot.
"Last season, Cody gained valuable experience on the mound as a freshmen, and he’s looked good so far in our inside practices. Sam also plays shortstop and catches when he’s not pitching, and it’s the same thing with Cody, so those guys are the battery."
Chase Everson, Jordan Juenger, Josh Stadheim, and Jake Ehret are the other seniors on the roster. Among that group of seniors, Everson has the most experience coming back and he’ll play defensively in the outfield.
Nate Williamson, a junior, played a lot as a freshmen but then moved away last season. Williamson is now back and will likely start this season in left field. Sheehan is back to anchor the defense up the middle at second base.
Lyle/Pacelli finished with a 1-13 overall record last season with the only win coming against Glenville-Emmons.
"Last year, we were playing with mainly a freshmen team, aside from Sam, so the young guys got some experience," Baumann said. "That will be a big test in the opener against Blooming Prairie, because they have a lot of guys back from a good team last year. We hope to get outside at least one day for practice before the season starts."
Jihoon is a new addition to the team and possesses pretty good speed, which makes him the leading candidate to play in centerfield. Michael Lonergan is a sophomore with a potent bat and he’ll take over defensively at third base.
"Kim is a little raw with his defensive skills, but we’re working with him and hopefully he will help us out in centerfield," Baumann said. "Sam (Stier) is our best hitter coming back, but some of the younger guys can also hit. Lonergan has a good bat and will help us in the infield at third base. Aaron Juenger came on strong at first base last season, so we’ve got some good players coming back and they’re hungry to improve on last year’s one-win season."
With all of the rescheduling, the home opener for the Athletics won’t come until a week from next Monday against Mabel-Canton. Lyle/Pacelli will once again call historic Marcusen Park home for the spring season.
"It’s another year where our guys are looking forward to playing at Marcusen Park," Baumann said. "That’s our home field now and we’re happy to claim it for the spring. If we had gotten a couple of breaks last year, then we could’ve had a .500 season. The potential is there for a big improvement this season, but we won’t really know what’s going on until the guys can get outside."
Things won’t be easy in the Southeast Conference race this season with the coach rating Mabel-Canton as the team to beat. The Houston Hurricanes will also be tough with a number of top athletes returning to the roster. The conference opener for L/P is now set for a week from Friday at Winona against Hope Lutheran.