New-look Angels to have some challenges this Hi-10 season
Starting its third year of play, the Detroit Lakes Angels have tasted success in their first two seasons.
Two trips to the Class C state tournament are achievements that any established club would be proud of. But the Angels' past success means little this year as they will have to contend with retirements, new faces and injuries to existing players.
"Hopefully we can be healthy," Angels co-coach Mark Jorgenson said. "When it came to the regionals last year, we were a little healthier than we were during the year."
Justin Berg, the ace down the stretch of last year's 18-15 team, is recovering from shoulder surgery in December.
"He was hoping to pitch in June and now he's not sure," Jorgenson said.
Another pitcher, Max Saarinen, is nursing an elbow injury. Jorganson said Saarinen hasn't pitched much for Minnesota-Crookston because of tendonitis.
But the pitching staff as a whole isn't a concern for Jorgenson. Brian Buhr, who logged the second-most in innings pitched and Matt Huberty are returning.
A pair of former Lakers will be joining the duo on the mound.
Chris Gilson, a 2008 DLHS grad and quarterback for Concordia College-Moorhead football, will be arriving later in the spring after classes end and should be able to stick around to the end of the season.
Former Laker Jon Tolbert will be joining the team from North Central University after the end of the semester as well.
"Pitching isn't a concern," Jorgenson said. "Hitting is what concerns me a little bit. During the last two years, we had a team based on hitting, but we lost a lot of those guys."
Defense is another weakness, Jorgenson said.
"We need to play better on defense than we did last year," he said.
Co-coach and outfielder Phil Kirchner said he's looking for a little more speed on the bases to manufacture runs.
"We have some young kids who can run," Kirchner said.
Jorgenson said the defense stepped up at playoff time, but he would like to see more consistency early on.
The obvious defensive struggles will be behind the plate, as Detroit Lakes will be looking for anyone healthy. Returning catcher Taylor Fuhs is on the mend. Kyle Danner, who is also coming in hurt, will spend time behind the plate.
A new face, 2008 Lakers grad Doug Dickey, a freshman at Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D., is injured as well.
"Our intention was to use him in May and give Taylor a chance to rest his injured shoulder from last year," Jorgenson said. "If Dickey isn't going to be able to catch, we'll have to go back with Danner. Danner does okay, but he's not a catcher."
Dickey will also be splitting time with the American Legion team in Detroit Lakes.
"If he can catch, that will be a big boost," Jorgenson said. "You can't fake having a catcher back there."
Last year, the lack of depth at the catching position hurt the Angels, Jorgenson said, adding that other teams took advantage of the situation on the basepaths.
The Angels also are in need for someone to step up at third base. Matt Nustad is likely out for the year, Jorgenson said, because of a construction injury.
Going to the state tournament is the expectation once again, but Jorgenson said the Angels probably aren't the favorites to take the Hi-10 League.
"We're going to be young," Kirchner said. "Every team needs a couple veterans. Hopefully a couple of the younger players will come up and get some experience. We're banking on them toward the end of the year to do some work for us."
Come playoff time, at least if Detroit Lakes makes the regionals, which the Hi-10 League will send three teams to this year, it will be able to draft a couple of players from teams that have been eliminated.
It helped last year when the Angels picked up Andy Kratzke from the Perham Pirates to help catch.
"That solidified our catching spot," Jorganson said.
Infield, Buhr, Huberty and Tolbert look to platoon at third.
Jake Kiebke could make the move to shortstop from his regular spot at third.
Huberty might also play short, but Jorgenson said he'd prefer for his pitchers to not play that position.
Veteran Nick Omberg will play second.
The Angels picked up Phil Doll to take the spot of Terry Haus, who retired, at first. Doll played for the Pirates during their 2000 and 2001 state tournament sides.
Zach Fulmer will spend some time at first, Jorgenson said, but will likely be the Angels' everyday designated hitter.
"Zach has a big stick," Jorgenson said.
In the outfield, Chris Engberg, Danner, Gilson, Kirchner and Saarinen will fill in where needed.
Noah Johnson, Shawn May and Wade Whitworth aren't returning this year due to relocation or other commitments.
The Angels start off in Wadena-Deer Creek Sunday, May 10 at 1:30 p.m.
Their first home game is on May 17, when the New York Mills Millers visit Washington Ballpark with a first pitch scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
10 at Wadena-Deer Creek Shockers, 1:30 p.m.
17 vs. New York Mills Millers, 1:30 p.m.
20 vs. Fargo Mets, 7:30 p.m.
23 vs. Moorhead Brewers, 2 p.m.
27 vs. Bluffton Braves, 7:30 p.m.
30 at Pelican Rapids Lakers, 1:30 p.m.
31 at New York Mills Millers, 7:30 p.m.
3 vs. Midway Snurdbirds, 7:30 p.m.
6 at Buffalo Bulldogs, 1 p.m. at St. Cloud Orthopedic, 6 p.m.
7 at St. Cloud Tournament, 11 a.m.
10 vs. Vergas Loons, 7:30 p.m.
13 Detroit Lakes Tournament, noon.
14 Detroit Lakes Tournament, noon.
20 vs. Wadena - Deer Creek Shockers, 7:30 p.m.
21 vs. Bertha Blazers (doubleheader), 1:30 p.m.
24 vs. Dent Bulldogs, 7:30 p.m.
26 Lake and Pine All Star Game at Dent, 8:00 p.m.
28 at Hawley Hawks, 1:30 p.m.
1 vs. Fergus Falls Hurricanes, 7:30 p.m.
4 vs. Alumni game, 3 p.m. vs. Frazee Flames, 7 p.m.
8 vs. Perham Pirates, 7:30 p.m.
10 at Dent Bulldogs, 7:30 p.m.
12 vs. Dent Wildcats, 7:00 p.m.
17 at Perham Pirates, 7:00 p.m.
19 at Bluffton Braves, 1:30 p.m.