Baseball preview: Standouts and new field among themes

Andover

2012 finish: 14-6 in NWSC, 15-8 overall; lost in Section 7AAA final four.

Coach: Don Gawreluk, 11th season at Andover.

Return players: Senior Tyler Evans is the lone returning starter and is coming off a season in which he hit .312 with two home runs and eight doubles in his second year starting.

Newcomers: Justin Freholtz, Jerrod Morgel, Derek Walton, Keith Kabicinski, Austin Strombeck and Justin Klingl.

Outlook: With a new starter at almost every position, Gawreluk says this is a chance for the team to forge a new identity. “Many players have been waiting in the wings behind last year’s seniors just hoping to get a chance to show what they can do,” he said. “Now is their time to do just that. If JV and sophomore team play is any indication of the success for the future of the varsity program, Andover should be fine this spring.

Anoka

2012 finish: 4-15, 10th in NWSC; 5-16 overall; seeded last in Section 7AAA, beat Duluth East in play-in game 4-3, then lost to Grand Rapids 7-0.

Coach: Kevin Bross.

Return players: Sophomore pitcher Alex Glick is the top returning pitcher, working 13 innings last season with a 2.69 ERA. The rest of the returning pitchers have less than five innings of varsity experience.

Seniors Ryan Rumpca, Clay Anderson and Ryan Sutterer give the Tornadoes veteran leadership around the infield. Sutterer will provide power at the bat and has an outstanding glove at first base. Rumpca is a versatile fielder and will hit for power. Senior outfielder Brent Golobich led the offense with a .367 batting average and is another asset on the bases. Junior Jason Brumbaugh will hold down the designated hitter role and will see time in the infield after batting .312 last season and providing some pop in the line-up. Rounding out the infield is junior third baseman Joe Redmann, who offers a strong arm and can hit for power.

Newcomers: Senior right-hander Kyle Fleming will be looked on to eat up innings with a strong arm and good control.

Outlook: Returning players with experience, especially with a deep infield line up and batters with the potential to hit with power at the plate, should help Anoka improve on a single-digit win total from last year. Bross sees more wins this season if the pitching staff can keep the game close because “we should be able to score some runs.”

Blaine

2012 finish: 10-9, 4th in NWSC; 12-10 overall, lost in second round of Section 5AAA.

Blaine pitcher Davis Bryan

Blaine pitcher Davis Bryan

Coach: Eric Feigum, second season at Blaine.

Return players: Senior captain Davis Bryan will be the top starter this season after posting a 3-2 record, 1.72 ERA, 43 strikeouts over 40 2/3 innings. Offensively, he hit .339 with one home run, four doubles and 13 RBI. Look for Ben Buchelt and Josh Montbriand to hold down spots in the middle infield, while Sam Kriegler will see time across the field and hit near the top of the line up.

Outlook: Blaine was a very strong team at Paul Parkway going 8-2 while struggling away from home with a 3-7 record. Four of those road losses came by one run. Blaine’s VFW team posted a 22-11 record while dealing with injuries all season at some key positions. According to Feigum, a number of players participated in fall/winter programs throughout the country to gain even more playing experience heading into the high school varsity season. “Our senior leadership is as good as it has been since I’ve been around the program,” Feigum said. “I told them a long time ago that a sign of a program going the right direction is when the seniors become teachers. They have definitely embraced that and taken some younger guys under their wing and showed them what they need to do to be successful. The team make-up is remarkable.”

Coon Rapids

2012 finish: 15-4, second in NWSC; 16-7 overall; lost in Section 5AAA quarterfinals.

Coon Rapids senior pitcher Logan Shore returns for one last season before heading off to the University of Florida or professional baseball in the coming year. File photo

Coon Rapids senior pitcher Logan Shore returns for one last season before heading off to the University of Florida or professional baseball in the coming year. File photo

Coach: Jerry Coe, 21st season.

Return players:: Three-year catcher Anthony Mrosla; reliever/first baseman Jake Bruner; second baseman Tyler Kelm; pitcher Logan Shore; reliever/third baseman Grant Farley and outfielder Alex Boxwell.

Stand-out senior Logan Shore has already committed to play for the University of Florida. Expect Shore to be drafted in the June MLB entry draft and have to make a decision between pro and college. Before then, he has one more go-around with the group he grew up playing with in Coon Rapids.

Newcomers: One of the few open spots on the roster will by taken up by Noah Fedje, who hit .368 for the JV squad last spring.

Outlook: The Cardinals return a veteran group, including four seniors pitchers and a letterwinner at each position. Among the returnees is Shore, who garnered All-State and Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year honors last spring. Bruner and Kelm hit .312 and .400, respectively and Farley provided some pop at the plate with three home runs.

Legacy Christian

2012 finish: 6-3, third in the MCAA; 11-9 overall and lost in the second round of the Section 4A tournament to Mayer Lutheran.

Coach: Paul Mork, first year at Legacy; 54th year of coaching.

Outlook: Pitchers include Seniors Austin Fuller, Ross Gabrielson and David Kraskey and junior Luke Anderson. A solid core of pitchers should be the backbone of the team.

PACT Charter

2012 finish: 1-8, 10th in the MCAA; 8-12 overall and lost in the first round of the Section 4A tournament to Providence Academy.

Coach: Josh Coleman, second season as head coach; third season in program.

Return players:: One returning senior in Ryan Radtke, who should be one of the leading hitters on the team. Sophomore pitcher Kevin Breimhurst will be at the top of the rotation and contribute as a third baseman when not on the mound.

Outlook: PACT is a very young team (starting seven freshmen or sophomores) that will need its defense to be solid and if the hitting can come around, looking for more than one conference win this season, its first without Spectrum serving as a cooperative.

Spring Lake Park

2012 finish: 5-9, ninth place in the North Suburban Conference; 5-14 overall and finished with a Section 5AAA opening round loss to Blaine.

Coach: Josh Mason, second season as head coach and third at varsity and seventh season at Spring Lake Park.

Return players:: Seniors: three-year starter Ryan Flink 3B/1B; CF Sam Kaus; Alex Etherton SS/P; Caleb Axelson Util. Sophomore catcher Antonio Zepeda, catcher, called up from sophomore team to varsity.

Newcomers: Sophomore pitcher Justin Weber and junior utility infielder Eric Curren.

Outlook: The Panthers have five seniors returning with varsity experience mixed in with a couple of underclassmen who saw significant time with the varsity club. Sophomore catcher Antonio Zepeda is a perfect example as he was called up from the sophomore team last year and has embraced his role so far this spring. “He played 15 games last year and he was able to learn a lot from our DI pitcher (Jake Matthys, Kansas State pitcher) about what to throw and when,” Mason said.

He also pointed to the effort captain Alex Etherton has made to lead the team on and off the field or gym.

St. Francis

2012 finish: 8-6, fifth place in North Suburban Conference; 15-10 overall and third place in Section 7AAA.

Coach: Brian Julson.

Return players:: The Saints return three right-handed pitchers in seniors Trent Saghdahl and Blake Carlson and junior Lucas Niemeyer. They also return junior catcher Cole Duncan and Saghdahl will split time at shortstop when he is not on the mound.

Newcomers: Look for junior infielder/pitcher Alex Bauermesiter to be a new contributor to the varsity squad.

Outlook: A deep St. Francis team with strong pitching will look to keep the record above .500 this spring.

Jason Olson is at jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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