Fifth-ranked Eastview deep in pitching
Baseball team looking to make run at SSC title
Eastview has built a reputation as a baseball team with strong pitching and solid defense.
That isn’t expected to change this season. In fact, coach Tom Strey said it had better not change if the Lightning expects to contend for South Suburban Conference and section championships.
“If we do those things well, we’ll be in every game,” Strey said.
In 2011 the Lightning was 16-8 and reached the Class 3A, Section 3 final before losing to eventual state champion Burnsville. Burnsville and Eastview were first and fifth in the preseason state Class 3A rankings.
The Lightning, which opened the regular season Wednesday at Apple Valley, is deep in returning pitchers. Seniors Adam Moorse, Evan Decovich, Quinn Trusty and Chris Narum are expected to see time on the mound. Patrick Strey, the head coach’s son, is a potential late-inning option. Cameron Hall, another senior, pitched a lot of innings for Eastview’s American Legion team last summer.
If there’s one thing for which the Eastview program has become known, it’s developing pitchers. Several recent Lightning pitchers have gone on to throw for college programs.
“We’ve been fortunate,” Tom Strey said. “We have a good youth program, and a lot of kids have been dedicated in the off-season.
“We’re in a good situation with our pitching. It’s going to be a senior-dominated group.”
The Lightning also will have experience at a number of other positions. Starting catcher Ryan Reger returns to work with the pitching staff. Decovich will play first base when not pitching. Seniors Austin Hebig (second base), Scott Nelson (shortstop) and Patrick Strey (third base) are returning regulars.
Hall, Narum, Trusty and senior Brennan Espinda-Banick will play outfield.
The Lightning practiced during spring break last week in St. Pete Beach, Fla. The week before, the team was able to practice outdoors in Minnesota thanks to unseasonably warm March weather.
“We scrimmaged Maple Grove (last year’s state Class 3A runner-up) while we were in Florida, as well as some other teams,” Strey said. “We had the lineup semi-settled before we went there, but there are always going to be surprises. We tell the kids it’s a process. As we go through the year, we might have some kids moving to different positions.”
An unknown factor is the effect of less-lively bats mandated for use in high school baseball this season. Eastview teams tend to rely on contact over power, and Strey said he’s assuming that making good contact will be even more important this season.
So, too, will players who know how to run the bases. “Overall, we have some decent speed,” Strey said. “We don’t have any burners, but we have four or five kids who run well.”
After opening the season against its crosstown rival, the Lightning returns to conference play at 4:15 p.m. Monday at Rosemount. Eastview plays home games against Lakeville South on April 11 and against non-conference opponent Eden Prairie on April 12.
Burnsville is favored to win the South Suburban Conference, but “in that conference, everyone has a couple of pitchers that are good,” Strey said. “So we kind of beat up on each other throughout the year.”