One starter returns for defending state champs
So, what does Eastview plan for an encore after winning the school’s first state baseball championship last spring?
Don’t even go there.
It’s a new season and it will be a vastly different Eastview team. Of the 10 players (including a designated hitter) who started in the Lightning’s 1-0 victory over Bemidji in the Class AAA title game last June, only one – first baseman A.J. Stockwell – is back this year.
Lightning coach Tom Strey said he already has cautioned this year’s team about putting too much pressure on itself.
“Last year’s team came in ready to go,” Strey said. “They had experience and they had some high expectations.
“We still have a lot of the same goals. We still expect to compete for the section championship. Early in the season we’re going to get all our kids out there so they can play and get some experience. It might take longer for things to come together for us.”
It’s not as though Eastview is starting over following a 23-4 season. Stockwell returns to the lineup, and junior Marcus Frederickson was a pitching revelation in the postseason last year. He pitched four shutout innings in relief in the state semifinals against Grand Rapids, a game Eastview rallied to win 5-3. Frederickson, who Strey said also is one of the team’s best hitters, will play outfield when not pitching.
Senior Kevin Wobschall saw varsity playing time at third base last season and also is expected to pitch. Infielder Rhett Hebig and outfielder Joe Schlosser also were reserves on the state championship team. Schlosser, who also played on Eastview’s state championship soccer team last fall, is expected to be the starting center fielder. Grant Martinson, a senior, should see some time on the mound and Derek Scheibel likely will take over at shortstop.
And although the Lightning lost a lot of talent to graduation, there is plenty of talent in the pipeline. Last summer, Eastview’s American Legion team played in the state tournament, the Senior Babe Ruth team won its state tournament and the 16-and-under squad placed third at state.
The baseball team went to Florida during spring break last week. “The kids were excited to get down there and work on some things outside,” Strey said.
They probably were less excited to see snow on the ground when they returned from Florida, which forced them back into the gym for practices. The scheduled season opener Friday at Lakeville North already has been postponed. The chances of playing Monday’s home game against Apple Valley appear iffy at best.
In Florida, Strey said the Lightning looked decent at the plate and on the bases but still had a lot of work to do defensively. He added that none of that surprised him.
Coaching this year’s team presents a different but still interesting challenge, the coach said.
“It’s kind of exciting for us,” he said. “With last year’s team we knew what we had. This year we think we have good players, but there are some unknowns. We’re excited to see how it turns out.”