Strong pitching to drive Lakers' 2010 season
Pitching depth could be a key factor for the Detroit Lakes baseball team, since the Lakers will have two quality starters at the top of the rotation.
Seniors Brock Johnson and Alex Guetter, a lefty, will anchor the Laker pitching staff, with each coming off of an impressive season in 2009.
But who pitches behind the two hurlers will be important to DL's success, as well.
"Going into the season, pitching is going to be our strong point," said DL head coach Steve Fuhs. "The key is, both Brock and Alex have more than one pitch to rely on and both threw strikes last year.
"But we need four to five starters and after those two, we don't have a lot of pitchers with experience."
Johnson possesses an overpowering fastball, as well as an effective slider and changeup.
Guetter has good control and a curve as an out pitch.
But more importantly, both throw strikes.
Seniors Brett Provo and T.J. Manning have some innings and they will get their chances on the mound early on in the season, as will Andy Fondrick.
Junior Ben Lindquist showed some good stuff in 2009 and also adds a left arm to the pitching staff.
Jordan Manning and Nate Baker also have good experience on the mound, but on the B-team level.
"(Junior) Connor McLeod also saw a few innings, as well," Fuhs said. "But we will need everyone sometime during the season. I'd like to have up to eight pitchers and the talent is there."
For the first time in a long time, DL will also be very inexperienced at the catching position.
There is very little varsity experience behind the plate, with sophomore Brian Labat having the first chance to solidify the position.
"Hopefully Brian can take the bull by the horns at catcher," Fuhs said. "He's a good athlete and a big, strong kid."
Tyler Fode and Andy Pederson will be backups to start the season, as well.
There are just a few players back who saw time in the field last season, with junior Connor McLeod anchoring the infield at shortstop.
"Connor knows the speed of the game and he will be the leader of the defense," Fuhs said.
When not pitching, Johnson will hold down the first base corner. Others who will fill in include Lindquist, Chris Nelson and Nate Krohne.
Fuhs will have to mix and match the infielders to see who fits where though, with many new faces manning the infield.
The crew Fuhs has to work with includes Jordan Manning, Fondrick, Ryan Berg and Baker.
The Lakers will also have a little experience in the outfield, as Pederson and Joe Thompson split time last year, and both are back.
TJ Manning will make the move from shortstop/third base to the outfield, to supply some speed, while the newcomers will be Jon Gilson, Mark Labat and Danny Engberg.
"We just need to find players who can catch the ball and make plays out there," Fuhs said.
There are few at bats returning offensively, as McLeod and Johnson will anchor the middle of the lineup.
"Who we put around them at the top of the order will depend on who can play defense," the DL coach said.
Pederson and Thompson each have some at bats from last year, with TJ Manning seeing time last summer during the Legion season.
"We won't have a ton of power and may need two to three hits to score a run," Fuhs said. "We'll be better at hitting for doubles. But we're going to be aggressive on the base pads."
Terry Eiter will be assisting Fuhs, while Jake Blow will coach the ninth grade and Mike Even the sophomore team.
The season opens April 15 in Pelican Rapids, with the home opener being April 27 against Mid-State Conference foe Crosby-Ironton.
Detroit Lakes baseball 2010 schedule:
15 at Pelican Rapids
16 at Fergus Falls
20 at Frazee
23 at Thief River Falls
30 at Pequot Lakes
6 Park Rapids
13 at Perham
18 at Wadena-Deer Creek
27 Thief River Falls
3 Section play-in game
5 Section quarterfinals
8 Section semifinals
10 Section finals
17-18 State Tournament.