2010 TRC Baseball preview


2009 season in review

The Three Rivers Conference put three teams in the final four of the Section 1A tournament, and Wabasha-Kellogg emerged to the state tournament for the second time in three years. Chatfield and Southland were also in the section final four; W-K came back and beat Southland twice in the championship round, 12-5 and 4-1, after falling to the defending section champs in the first round, 8-1. Plainview-Elgin-Millville finished runnerup in up the Section 1AA tournament, falling to eventual state champion La Crescent in the final game.

2010 season outlook

Wabasha-Kellogg, PEM and St. Charles look like the strongest horses in what is always a competitive conference race. W-K and PEM return with their pitching aces, while St. Charles has seven returning starters plus pitching help from an exceptional B squad team. But the TRC could be up for grabs because several other teams have good returning experience, particulary Southland and Rushford-Peterson. There is just one new coach in the 11-team conference this season, at Dover-Eyota.


Wabasha-Kellogg (15-5, 24-7)has been become one of the area's most consistent teams under fifth-year coach Chris Gove, who has a 74-34 record here. The Falcons finished second at the Class A state tournament in 2009, falling 3-1 to MACCRAY in the state title game at Chaska Athletic Park. It was W-K's second state appearance in three years, and the Falcons have been a final four team in Section 1A the last three years. W-K won't sneak up on anyone again this season, with six returning starters including two top pitchers, senior P/CF Holden Hartert (.347, 22 RBIs, 12 SBs/6-1, 2.37 ERA, 45 Ks) and junior P/3B Eric Sandstrom (.256, 21 RBIs, 3 3Bs/6-3, 2.20 ERA, 42 Ks). There is also plenty of punch returning to a lineup that averaged 8.4 runs per game last season; senior 2B Jordan Dick (.420, 13 2Bs, 5 HRs, 35 RBIs), senior SS Zach Wolfe (.410, 8 2Bs 4 HRs, 24 RBIs, 16 SBs), junior LF Ben Edelbach (.300, 22 RBIs, 12 SBs), and junior C Tom Greenheck (.286, 15 RBIs).

Plainview-Elgin-Millville (13-7, 18-10)lost a large group of starters to graduation, and those players had a big hand in getting PEM to the final four of Section 1AA the last two years. The Bulldogs lost 6-1 to La Crescent in the section final, denying PEM its first state tournament berth in baseball. Coach Scott Flattum begins his fourth season at PEM with a good nucleus to build on, including 10 seniors who all saw some playing time last year. The leaders are IF/P Clay Olstad (.319/8-1, 2.28), OF Blaine Miller (.356, 13 SB) and senior IF/P Greg Naschansky. Other returning starters are IF/P Caleb Krause (.292) and IF/P Tyler Hanson (.242). Coach Flattum thinks the Bulldogs can be contenders again in the conference and section. "We will be strong defensively and on the mound again this year; we have experience in those spots," he said.

St. Charles (13-7, 14-9)could be looking at a break-out season, with seven returning starters plus some reinforcements from a B squad that went 19-1 last year. The year before, the Saints' B team was 18-2. Coach Scott McCready could have the guns to get St. Charles in contention for the TRC crown, as well as its first Section 1AA title since 2005. The returning starters are all seniors, led by pitchers Matt Putzier (.217, 15 runs, 17 SBs/4-3, 1.55 ERA, 47 Ks) and Travis Kieffer (.139, 9 RBIs/1-0, 4.61 ERA, 2 saves). The offense is led by one of the area's best hitters last year, Alex Fenske (.506, 37 RBIs, 19 runs), along with Ben Lommen (.417), and Jared Seinola (.237, 17 runs, 10 RBIs). Fenske, Seinola and Putzier were all-conference. Seniors Cody Leisen and Joe Dick also have limited varsity experience. Coach McCready thinks his pitching staff will be deep in talent, although many arms are unproven at the varsity level, and the same goes for his offense — the potential is great but unproven. McCready got his 100th win last year in his eighth season and has a 104-67 career record here.

Southland (12-7, 16-10)has made a hard act to follow for itself, after playing into the Section 1A final the last three years. The Rebels narrowly missed their second straight trip to state in 2009, falling twice to Wabasha-Kellogg in the 1A final four. Coach Scott Retterath has another experienced team and expects the Rebels to compete for the conference and section crowns again. Three veteran pitchers will be leaders, senior P/IF Mitch Nagele, senior IF/P Chris May and junior OF/P Alan May. Another key returning player is senior IF Mitch Heimer. No statistical information on returning players was provided. The Rebels have won 60 games in the last three seasons.

Lewiston-Altura (12-8, 14-10)corrected its direction last year after two straight seasons below the .500 mark. Four years ago, the Cardinals won 20 games and almost went to state for the first time, fallining in the Section 1A final four. L-A won't be the most veteran team in the conference, with just four returning starters; seniors Brady Bartelson (.357), Justin Ehlenfeldt (.286) and Luke Kalis (.279), and junior Clint Neumann (.196). The returning players are all infielders so the Cards should be strong defensively there. L-A is inexperienced on the mound, relying on three juniors who were on the B squad last season, Layton Kreidermacher, Luke Buehler and Neumann. "Our success will depend on how our returning non-starters and B squad players make the jump to the varsity level," coach Jerry Stensgard said. Stensgard is in his 18th season as L-A's head coach.

Rushford-Peterson (12-8, 14-10)broke over .500 last year for the first time in three seasons under 28-year-old head coach Dan Mlsna, who begins his fourth season with a 36-36 record. The Trojans may be ready to take the next step as contenders with a experience-rich lineup that has eight returning starters. Three of the returners were all-conference picks, senior SS/P Blake Lea (.440, 23 runs, 17 RBIs, 7 2Bs/3-1, 4.13 ERA), senior OF/P Cody Frick (.390, 21 runs, 18 RBIs) and senior IF/C Logan Brand (.380, 18 runs, 19 RBIs, 3 HRs). Other leaders are senior IF/P Steven Koenen (.310, 15 runs, 15 RBIs, 3 HRs/6-6, 4.54 ERA, 40 Ks), junior IF/P Blake Erickson (.290, 21 RBIs/5-3, 4.34 ERA, 41 Ks), senior OF Brian Eggert (.250, 14 runs), senior OF Brandon Weideman (.300, 12 runs), and senior IF Brad Ebner. Coach Mlsna said pitching experience is a strength, but R-P must be more consistent with its defense to be a contender.

Chatfield (11-8, 16-11)can always be counted on to be competitive, as evidenced by coach Brian Baum's excellent career record of 161-86 since replacing his dad, Molly, as the Gophers' head coach. The Gophers finished third at the Section 1A meet for the third straight year in 2009, eliminated by eventual champ Wabasha-Kellogg. Chatfield has won five section titles under Baum since 1998, the most recent in 2006. Five returning starters are among the eight letterwinners, but the Gophers are thin on the mound with only 24 innings of varsity experience. Among the returning players are senior C Michael Bell and senior IF/P Tyler Chase (.284, 11 RBIs), both third-year starters. Other returning players are senior OF Justin Buss (.292), junior RF Nathan Vogen, junior 1B Erik Hilgren (.327, 14 RBIs), and junior 3B Aric Swancutt (.351). "We will definitely need to score runs to help our young pitching staff," Baum said.

Caledonia/Spring Grove (10-9, 12-11)became a little stronger as a combined team for the first time in 2009, as Spring Grove left the Southeast Conference and its few players joined up with Caledonia in the TRC. Coach Elliott Kranz is excited about this season because he's got a wealth of returning varsity experience. Six players are returning starters; senior OF/P Mike Ideker (.377/1-1, 18 Ks), senior 1B/P Bobby Augedahl (.266, 13 runs/3-3, 33 Ks), junior SS/P Ivan Augedahl (.328/1-0, 24 Ks), senior 3B/C Trent Meyer (.225, 16 RBIs, 12 runs), senior SS/P/C Dakotah Rostad (.349), and senior OF Joe Morken (.429). "Four of our pitchers have had a lot varsity starts which should also help us a lot this year," Kranz said. "We need to hit better with runners in scoring position."


Dover-Eyota (6-14, 7-16)has new direction this season as Brad Wick replaces former head coach Jim Dusso, and Wick has some holes to fill after graduation claimed many of the Eagles' starters. There are only two returning starters and neither in a pitcher. Senior OF Joe Wick (.367, 18 RBIs) is a mainstay in his fourth varsity season. Other seniors on the roster include 3B/C Tysen Mayer (.259, 10 RBIs), OF Zachary Williams (.143) and C/P Jeff Borst (.194). Jeff Borst threw out over 50 percent of attempted steals last season. Two returning juniors are SS/P Adam Borst (.266/3-2, 3.27 ERA) and 1B/P Drew Turnquist (.143). Adam Borst was the only pitcher with a winning record last season.

Fillmore Central/Lanesboro (2-17, 2-19)struggled last season in its first year under new coach Ryan Scheevel, who became the program's third head coach in as many years. Scheevel is optimistic that FCL's fortunes will improve, with four returning starters; senior IF/P Dalton Woellert (.426, 12 RBIs/1-5, 5.09 ERA, 41 Ks), sophomore OF/P Tyler Eickhoff (.492, 15 runs), senior IF Matt Haugerud (.368, 14 runs, 13 RBIs, 12 steals), and senior OF David Berg (.305/0-3, 11.46 ERA). Other returners are junior IF Colton Hampel (.180, 7 RBIs), sophomore OF Tanner Ristau, junior IF Jordan Ristau, and junior OF Darren Hill. Coach Scheevel said his team's biggest obstacle might be its schedule. "When our seniors leave for a class trip to D.C., we don't play any games over the next two weeks (April 2-15). Once they get back, we'll have four straight weeks with four games."

Grand Meadow/Le Roy-Ostrander/Kingsland (2-18, 2-19)will attempt to dig out of the hole it has been in for several years with a youthful roster that includes seven freshmen and a couple of eighth-graders. Four sophomores and a freshman will start. GMLOK was winless two seasons ago, and has won only six games in the last four years. Five returning starters will provide the leadership; junior SS Caleb Leichtnam (.350, 12 SBs), junior 1B Alan McCaulley (.286), senior P Erik Bicknese (.245, 9 RBIs), junior OF Ethan Merkel (.227), sophomore C Sam Eberle (.200, 11 runs), and senior OF Rob Tieffenbacher (.147). Second-year head coach Taran Jack thinks this is the season the Bulldogs turn it around. "If we can play fundamental defense I feel we will be able to compete with the top teams in the conference."

— Donny Henn

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