The boys are back
The boys of summer are back. Or, in this case, the boys of spring.
The Blue Earth Area Buccaneer baseball team has been hitting the field for some spring training in anticipation of the season opener.
Their season opener is also their home opener, when the Buccaneers will host the New Ulm Eagles on Tuesday, April 12.
After that they host Worthington on Friday, April 15, travel to St Peter on Tuesday, April 19 and host Fairmont on Friday, April 21.
“We have a pretty tough schedule again this year,” coach Todd Schmidtke points out. “We are again in the ‘big’ half of the conference.”
The Big South Conference is split into two halves. And, while for most sports that is divided by East and West Divisions, for baseball it is divided into big and small schools.
“Even though we are one of the smaller schools, we are put in with the bigger schools,” Schmidtke explains. “Almost all the teams we will play in the conference are larger than we are like New Ulm, Marshall, Worthington, St. Peter and Fairmont. Hello! that is a list of some really good teams.”
And, the Buccaneers will play each one of them twice during the season.
But, Schmidtke says his Buccaneers are up for the challenge.
“I told them they need to play their best ball in every single game,” he says. “Or else it will make for a long night.”
Can they do it? Schmidtke says they sure can.
The team has four seniors out and nine juniors and they will make up the varsity team, barring any injuries or unforseen events.
The seniors are Kolt Gorg, Cole Hendricksen, Allan Davids and Michael Mack.
Gorg was the leading hitter from last year who is returning as a senior. Davids was the leading pitcher.
“Cole started every game but a couple last season,” Schmidtke says. “Michael was playing well but had to leave us for a month with the illness (and death) of his mother.”
The coach says the four seniors gives the team some leadership and a solid nucleus, but the juniors are an experienced bunch as well.
Those juniors are Jesus Quintero, Chris Sanders, Logan Jahnke, Kaylan Legred, Matthew Meier, Collin Bell, Christopher Jenkins, Zac Schonrock and Dalton Potter.
“This is a good solid group, that has played together a lot,” Schmidtke points out. “And, they have enjoyed a lot of success in past years, especially playing on traveling teams.”
Coach Schmidtke uses one word often when describing this year’s Buccaneer squad versatile.
Many of the players are able to play a variety of positions on the field.
“Take Logan (Jahnke) for example,” the Buc mentor says. “He can play catcher, or short stop or center field. Collin (Bell) can play the field or catch or pitch. Jesus (Quintero) can catch, pitch play the infield, too.”
The coach says it all depends on who is pitching as to where everyone else will be. The other players can be switched around for a variety of positions.
And, of course, injuries can always happen and that could change things up as well.
Besides his roster of varsity players, Schmidtke has some great assistant coaches as well, he says. They include some familiar faces, as well as some new ones.
Former BEA outstanding pitcher Garrett Anderson is a volunteer assistant coach. Anderson played ball at St. Cloud State. And B-squad coach Taylor Nawrocki was a ball player at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Long time assistant coach Roger Schoenfelder returns as the C-squad coach, with Steve Sonnickson back coaching the eighth grade and Paul Nienaber coaching seventh grade. Nienaber is a former Mounds View High School assistant coach.
“I’m excited for the season to start,” coach Schmidtke says. “This group of kids seem to really, really like baseball, and that is important. They are very enthusiastic. And, no matter what happens, I am really proud of all of them.”