Packers baseball opens on the road
The Austin Packers baseball team opens the season this afternoon with a Big Nine Conference game at Faribault.
With a group of 10 seniors on the roster, the Packers have plenty of experience in the field but there are some question marks for the pitching staff. Austin High has a number of guys with pitching experience coming back, although not in the starting role.
Senior Quinn Yocom will be one of the pitchers for the Packers. When not on the mound, he has good speed in the outfield. Yocom gained valuable experience while playing last fall in the USSSA All-American games and is a solid hitter.
"Yocom is a lefty and pitched some in relief last year," Austin coach Troy Watkins said. "He'll move into a starting spot this season. There are no real hard throwers, so we need the pitchers to hit spots and throw strikes."
Jay Ettinger, a senior, was a good hitter last season and his speed gives the Packers a legitimate scoring threat every time he gets on base. Ettinger will play defensively in the infield and at times last year was the designated hitter out of the leadoff spot.
Anthony Condit, a junior pitcher and infielder, played quite a bit last season. He'll also be in the starting rotation.
Behind the plate, senior catcher Josh Hart is a solid defensive player. Aaron Goetz show his hitting skills last summer for the American Legion team and should add to the potential of the offense.
"Our top three hitters from last year, Jay, Quinn, and Anthony are back and we're expecting good things from those guys," Watkins said. "We've only been outside twice so far to practice and it will be a little different with live pitching. Faribault beat Owatonna on Tuesday in their opener and that will be a bit of an advantage for them."
Austin seniors Caleb Whalen, Luke Mallory, and Jordan Lysne all saw innings on the mound last season. Andrew Kaiser is another senior who will add to the pitching rotation. Adam May and Alex Earl are senior outfielders for the Packers.
Mallory was hurt most of last season and pitched in the final few games. Jacob Thompson, a junior, pitched a lot of innings on b-squad last year. Tyler Belknap, a junior, is also expected to see time on the hill.
Marcus Stoulil, a sophomore pitcher, played on some very successful youth baseball teams the last few years. His 14-year-old team won the state championship a few years back and his bat should add some pop to the Packers lineup.
"We have lot of guys that can throw, we just need to find the pitchers that can be consistent and eat some innings," Watkins said. "The Big Nine will be tough from top to bottom. The pitching will be tough and every time out will be a challenge, but I think we'll surprise some people this season."
After starting out on the road, the Austin boys will play their home opener on Tuesday against Winona at Seltz Field.
AUSTIN PACKERS BASEBALL
Seniors — Jay Ettinger (infield), Quinn Yocom (pitcher/outfield), Andrew Kaiser (pitcher), Adam May (outfield), Josh Hart (catcher), Caleb Whalen (infield), Jordan Lysne (pitcher), Luke Mallory (pitcher), Aaron Goetz (outfield), Alex Earl (outfield). Juniors— Anthony Condit (pitcher/infield), Tyler Belknap (pitcher), Jacob Legried (outfield), Joey Raso (infield), Jacob Stark (infield), Jacob Thompson (pitcher). Sophomores— Marcus Stoulil (pitcher), Gabe Kasak (infield).
(Home games at Seltz Field)
Apr. 7 — at Faribault, 5:30 p.m.
Apr. 12— Winona, 5 p.m.
Apr. 14— Rochester Mayo (DH), 4 p.m.
Apr. 18— Northfield, 4:30 p.m.
Apr. 19— Mankato East, 5:30 p.m.
Apr. 21— at Albert Lea, 5 p.m.
Apr. 26— at Owatonna (DH), 5 p.m.
Apr. 29— Rochester Century (DH), 4:30 p.m.
May 3— Faribault, 5 p.m.
May 5— at Winona, 5 p.m.
May 12— at Mankato East, 4 p.m.
May 14— Rochester JM (DH), 10 a.m.
May 19— at Mankato West (DH), 4:30 p.m.
May 24— Albert Lea, 5 p.m.