Rochester high school baseball season previews
Head coach: Keith Kangas, 30 years (13 at Century).
Assistants:Fabian Luna, Ryan Yahnke, Tony Beck and Ed Miller.
Last year’s record:9-12 overall, 8-10 Big Nine.
Playoff result:Lost to Winona (7-5, 12 innings) in opening round.
Who’s gone:Jordan Martini, Michael Hartman, Eric Sherden, Evon Praska, Matt Pearson, Alex Luna and Andrew Plevak.
Top returners:3B John Meyer (all-conference, 10 RBIs, .338 BA), SS Josh Benson (honorable mention all-conference, 11 RBIs, .333 BA), P Brad Pfeffer (honorable mention all-conference) and P Mitch Brown (3-1, 32 Ks in 24 innings).
Other returning letter-winners:P/1B Jared Britson, OF Josh Denisen, C/1B Nikela Gathje, C Nick Merges, P/OF Tyler Wright and OF Mitch Gade.
Newcomers expected to make an impact:OF Alex Carlson, 2B Calvin Bjerke, P/C Cody Janzen, P/OF Chris Kallis, 1B Adam Sherden and 2B Nolan VanNurden.
Strengths:Return most of a last year’s pitching staff and a couple top hitters.
Weaknesses:Need to develop a solid/consistent infield.
Where they fit in conference/section:"We expect to be in the upper third of the Big Nine, which will be very strong this year," Kangas said. "We play the top teams early, so even though we are a bit experienced, we need to get off to a good start."
Coach Kangas’ comments:"I like the progress we have made so far. I feel it’s a real positive we have a coaching staff that has been together for about 10 years. We still have a few positions up for grabs. I like our pitching. Our kids are strong and think we will have more extra base hits. With such strong pitching in the Big Nine you are going to have to win some games 2-1 and 1-0. Walks and not making the routine play and the bunting game will dictate outcomes. There is no bottom of the Big Nine this year, so it should be very competitive."
Seniors: Josh Benson, Jared Britson, Alex Carlson, Josh Denisen, Nikela Gathje, Nicholas Merges, John Meyer, Brad Pfeffer and Tyler Wright. Juniors:Calvin Bjerke, Mitch Brown, Cody Janzen, Chris Kallis, Adam Sherden, Jacob Pankow and Nolan VanNurden. Sophomore:Mitchel Gade.
(Home games at Mayo Field unless noted.)
April 9 — MANKATO WEST (DH), noon
April 12 — MAYO, 5 p.m.
April 14 — OWATONNA (DH), 5 p.m.
April 16 — at Faribault, noon
April 21 — at Mankato East, 5 p.m.
April 25 — ALBERT LEA (DH), 4:30 p.m.
April 29 — at Austin (DH), 4:30 p.m.
May 3 — WINONA, 5 p.m. (at Century HS)
May 5 — at Mayo, 5 p.m.
May 7 — ST. PAUL JOHNSON, 3 p.m.
May 12 — FARIBAULT, 4:30 p.m. (at Century HS)
May 14 — MANKATO EAST, 11 a.m. (at Century HS)
May 17 — at La Cross Logan, 5 p.m.
May 19 — at John Marshall (DH), TBD (at John Adams MS)
May 23 — at Winona, 5 p.m.
Head coach: Terry Heiderscheit, 10th season.
Assistants:Darren Thompson, Dave Anderson, Greg Winter, Dan Glaser and Brent Lichty.
Last year’s record:10-11 overall, 10-8 in Big Nine.
Playoff result:Lost to Farmington in first round of Section 1AAA tournament.
Who’s gone:Robin Heilskov, Eric Williams, Jeff Sipple, Jordan Stokes, Steven Frey, William Hertel.
Top returners:P/3B Ryan Lakin (.382 BA, 3.3 ERA, 18 Ks, 27.6 IP), P/OF Alex Brady, P Pat Windish (4-1, 3.9 ERA, 46.3 IP, 47 Ks), P Kyle Fitzpatrick (11 Ks, 4.0 ERA, 15.6 IP), P/SS Alex Nelson (.356 BA, 16 runs), C Eric Nelson (12 RBIs, .271 BA, 13 runs) C/OF Jake Kirsch (11 RBIs, 12 runs), 1B Dan Chihak, OF Alex Ziemann and OF Anthony Johnson (5 HRs, 15 RBIs, .364 BA)
Other returning letter-winners:None.
Newcomers expected to make an impact:Not provided.
Strengths:Experienced pitchers, solid catching, overall experience.
Weaknesses:Depth, must throw strikes and play better defense.
Where they fit in conference/section:"The conference will have some good pitching this year, so we will need to keep opponents from getting anything easy," Heiderscheit said. "I can't really predict where we are going to finish in the Big Nine race, other than that I know we will have a say in who wins it."
Coach Heiderscheit's comments:"We need to fill a few spots and hopefully we have some good candidates. A lot of our pitching is back, and those guys gained valuable experience last summer. We do have a few new guys who are showing potential and who should help us as the season progresses. Our challenge this year will be to play hard all the time and focus on what is important."
Seniors: Anthony Johnson, Dan Chihak, Alex Nelson, Kyle Fitzpatrick, Alex Ziemann, Patrick Windish and Eric Nelson. Juniors:Austin Cook, Jake Kirsch, Kenny Jensen, Alex Galvan, Ryan Lakin, Matt Cyr, Matt Broman, Nate Ekhoff, Daniel Frey, Austin Minea. Sophomore:Alex Brady.
(Home games at John Adams Middle School unless noted.)
April 9 — at Owatonna, 3 p.m.
April 12 — FARIBAULT, 5 p.m.
April 14 — at Mankato East (DH), 4 p.m.
April 19 — ALBERT LEA, 5 p.m.
April 21 — WINONA, 5 p.m.
April 23 — DULUTH EAST, 11 a.m.
April 26 — at Mayo (Mayo Field), 5 p.m.
April 28 — at Mankato West (DH), 4 p.m.
May 3 — OWATONNA, 5 p.m.
May 7 — at Faribault, noon.
May 12 — at Albert Lea, 5 p.m.
May 13 — IRONDALE, 5 p.m.
May 14 — at Austin (DH), 10 a.m.
May 19 — CENTURY (DH), TBD
May 21 — at Winona, 1:30 p.m.
May 24 — MAYO, 5 p.m.
Head coach: Dan Hoefs, sixth season.
Assistants:Jeff Anderson (AAA assistant coach of the year in 2010), Josh Matti, Tom Senne and Todd Looney.
Last year’s record:17-10 overall, 11-7 Big Nine.
Playoff result:Won the Section 1AAA title and lost to Eden Prairie in first round at state. Downed Stillwater in consolation semifinals before losing to Brainerd in consolation championship game.
Who’s gone:Ben O'Reilly, Jordan Ziegler, Rannon Arch, Evan Morris, Paul McManus and Dylan Hesse.
Top returners:1B Matt Stubbs (honorable mention all-conference, all-section and all-state tournament team), C Steve Serratore (all-conference, all-section), P Brandon Zywicki (honorable mention all-conference) and SS Kyle VanWettering (all-conference).
Other returning letter-winners:3B Tyler Essig, Tayler Sederquest, 2B/2B/SS Lincoln Goetting, 2B Derek McMasters, CF Lance Dozier and LF/P Connor Paulson.
Newcomers expected to make an impact:OF/C Ben Alexander and P Jesse Haukom.
Strengths:Depth and versatility.
Weaknesses:Lack of proven pitching depth at the varsity level.
Where they fit in conference/section:"We will hopefully be in the upper half and possibly contend for the title," Hoefs said. "To win the conference, you have to win early. With several players competing for mound time and other positions, while gaining varsity experience, that is a question mark. As for the section, with single elimination in the first two rounds, anything can happen. Last year the Final Four was made up of the No. 1, 3, 8 and 11 seeds, which proves that point. Hopefully we'll get into the Final Four portion of the tournament and go from there."
Coach Hoefs' comments:"We have a good core of players returning from last year, which includes six starting spots. We have all our returning middle position players back. C, Steve Serratore; SS, Kyle VanWettering; 2B, Derek McMasters; and CF, Lance Dozier. Brandon Zywicki is our top returning pitcher and he could be a dominant pitcher this year. As always, we need our returning players to meet and/or exceed their performances from last year. Last year we played our best baseball at the end of the year and they were rewarded for that. We need the same thing again this year. Who will the surprises be? Who will be willing to go that extra mile to get better? Will we be a collection of individuals or will we develop into a team? It will be a fun and exciting year as we learn the answers to those questions."
Seniors: Lincoln Goetting, Derek McMasters, Lance Dozier, Brandon Zywicki, Tyler Essig, Ben Alexander, Tayler Sederquest, Connor Paulson and Matt Stubbs. Juniors:Matt Wolter, Steve Serratore, Justin Aldrich, Kyle VanWettering, Jordan Essig, Bill Belch, Jesse Haukom and Dylan Nelson.
(Home games at Mayo Field unless noted.)
April 7 — ALBERT LEA, 5 p.m.
April 12 — at Century, 5 p.m. (Mayo Field)
April 14 — at Austin (DH), 4 p.m.
April 19 — at Mankato West, 7 p.m.
April 21 — at Faribault, 5 p.m.
April 22 — DULUTH EAST, 5 p.m.
April 26 — JOHN MARSHALL, 5 p.m.
April 29 — MANKATO EAST (DH), 4:30 p.m.
May 3 — at Albert Lea, 5 p.m.
May 5 — CENTURY, 5 p.m.
May 10 — WINONA (DH), 4 p.m.
May 12 — MANKATO WEST, 5 p.m.
May 14 — IDONDALE, 11 a.m.
May 17 — at Owatonna (DH), 5 p.m.
May 21 — FARIBAULT, noon.
May 24 — at John Marshall, 5 p.m. (John Adams MS).
Head coach: Dan Herold, third season.
Assistants:Mike Gozola, Tim Coleman, Dave Jenson, Ryan Todd and Michael Hohberger.
Last year’s record:16-8 overall, 13-6 in HVL.
Playoff result:Lost to La Crescent in Section 1AA final.
Who’s gone:Lost 11 seniors, including Nick Schoeberl, Ricky Devorak, Chris Griffin, Tom Schroeder, Brett Dennis, Tyler Greguson, Will Johnson, David Keeney, Mark Greve, Cody Lawler and Sam Daly.
Top returners:C Nick Heimer (all-conference, all-section, .321 BA, 13 RBIs), P Jason Samuelson (.368 BA, 16 RBIs, 23 runs, 7 doubles, 2.74 ERA), P/IF Zach Muehlenbein, OF Adam Lentz (.400 BA) and 1B Dan Rossman (.333 BA). "Nick and Zach are our captains are very talented," Herold said. "Nick is in his third year on varsity, so we are expecting a great year of leadership as our captain and our primary catcher. He’s great at helping young pitchers and probably has the best fundamentals at the position of catcher, I’ve seen. Very big offensive threat, too. Jason Samuelson grew up a lot in a number of ways last season. Played outfield, shortstop and pitched for us last season. Was always near the top in most offensive, defensive and pitching statistics. He did all this as a freshman last year. Great athletic ability and wonderful baseball talent. Zach Muehlenbein came up big in a number of games on the mound last season finishing a number of big wins for us. Zach had a great Legion season last summer at the plate as well. Dan Rossman will provide us with power from the left side of the plate. Great team guy and works very hard. Adam Lentz returns from last year's squad and will be handling the outfield. Great speed and a knack for getting on base, which is a good combination."
Other returning letter-winners:Sam Sloan and David Stenzel.
Newcomers expected to make an impact:Rory Vesel, Joe Jennings, Andrew Ellingson and Ryan Fosse.
Strengths:Leadership and athleticism.
Weaknesses:Very inexperienced after losing 11 seniors. Young, but talented.
Where they fit in conference/section:"I think we will compete, but it depends on pitching and defense," Herold said.
Coach Herold's comments:"Last season’s run was special and losing 11 seniors is always tough, but that’s done. We really are working and focusing on this season’s run and expect to compete well. We play in a very competitive conference, which always prepares us for section play. It’s a fun conference. We will be young and inexperienced as varsity players, but these kids have played a lot of Eagle baseball for awhile now. I am extremely confident that our leaders will perform and our younger kids will step up. We have been building team fundamentals as we like speed and aggressive offensive play and have been focusing on increasing our pitching depth and defensive skills. I think we’ll go as far as our pitching and defense take us. Offensively we should be OK. We are very talented up the middle with Nick Heimer, Jason Samuelson and Adam Lentz. Our pitching will be deeper than last season, but may not have the quality and quantity of innings that Ricky Devorak supplied last season. However, we have three sophomores who are stepping up to varsity this season and can throw as well as some juniors from last year’s varsity and VFW team. As well, players like Nick Schoeberl (SS/OF), Chris Griffin (OF/P) and Brett Dennis (2B) are tough holes to fill defensively. We still are looking to find our final lineup, but the competition has been great for those spots."
Seniors: John Becker, Nathan Davidson, Adam Lentz, Sam Sloan, Rory Vesel, Dan Rossman, Nick Heimer, Zach Muehlenbein, Joe Fritzjunker and David Stenzel. Juniors:Tony Branson, Zach Scheckel, Joe Volcheck and Ryan Fosse. Sophomores:Andrew Ellingson, Joe Jennings and Jason Samuelson.
(Home games at Mayo Field unless noted.)
April 8 — KENYON-WANAMINGO, 5 p.m.
April 12 — HAYFIELD (DH), 4:15 p.m.
April 15 — at Goodhue, 5 p.m.
April 19 — at Kasson-Mantorville (DH), 3:45 p.m.
April 21 — ZUMBROTA-MAZEPPA, 5 p.m.
April 28 — LA CRESCENT (DH), 4:15 p.m.
April 29 — at Lake City, 5 p.m.
May 2 — TRITON, 5 p.m.
May 6 — BYRON (DH), 4:15 p.m.
May 13 — at Pine Island, 5 p.m.
May 17 — at Stewartville (DH), 4:15 p.m.
May 20 — CANNON FALLS, 5 p.m.
May 21 — at Winona Cotter (DH), 11 a.m.