Bayside Chatter: Softball team looks strongThe Polar League conference this spring in both softball and baseball starts off with Barnum as the favorite, although a lot more so in softball than baseball.
By: Steve Gow, Lake County News Chronicle
The Polar League conference this spring in both softball and baseball starts off with Barnum as the favorite, although a lot more so in softball than baseball.
Barnum finished second in the softball conference last season to Esko with one loss and fell in the section 5A finals to Maple Lake; which went on to finish second at state. Their top challengers will come from Silver Bay, Esko, Moose Lake and Floodwood. All but Esko return their top pitcher or pitchers. Esko is young and will improve much as the season progresses, but their conference title hopes will be decided in week one of the season as they face Barnum, Silver Bay and Moose Lake. It’s a heck of a way to start the season. Barnum returns top pitchers Katrina Newman and Katie Myhre along with top hitters Newman, Myhre and Jenna Shanda.
Moose Lake returns pitcher Katie Youngberg and hitters Mary Lou Moonen and Kim Ergen. Floodwood has ace hurler Molly Johnsen.
The Mariners, who represented Section 7A at state and finished fourth, return their pitching staff of Kirstin Sandstrom, Nikki Babbitt and Taylor Guzzo along with their top two hitters in Sandstrom and Guzzo.
Barnum returns seven starters in baseball, but unfortunately the two that don’t return were probably their best two in pitcher Erik Johnson and catcher Kyle Duesler. The top challengers in what should be a wide open race should be Moose Lake, McGregor, Esko, Floodwood and a number of others.
Both Cook County and Two Harbors, who finished second and third behind Moose Lake, were hit hard by graduation. Conference batting leader Trevor Bernsdorf (.651) of Floodwood returns along with teammates Zach Heggedahl (.467) and Craig Campbell (.382). Top pitchers returning include James Groth of Cook County, Dan Linder of Esko and Zerek Marsyla of McGregor.
Hunter Panetti returns as the most experienced Mariner pitcher and will play infield when not on the mound. He hit .375 last season and tied for the team lead with four home runs. Others returning with varsity experience include catcher Zach Bulen who hit .375 and infielder Luke Thun who hit .341 along with Warren Carter, Ryan DeShaw and Cody Larson. Finding depth on the mound and behind the plate will be two key challenges for first-year coach Shawn Bartlette.
The mens’ Division I Frozen Four began yesterday with the semifinal contests. The field includes some of the usual suspects in Boston College, Miami of Ohio and Wisconsin along with rookie entrant Rochester Institute of Technology. RIT gives out no athletic scholarships, has no NHL draft picks on their roster, and has zero alumni ever in the NHL. This is their fifth season of play at the Division I level and only the third where they were eligible for postseason play. I’m going to go with Wisconsin to win it all and the Badgers Blake Geoffrion to win the Hobey Baker today.