Laker baseball will use 'trial by error' method to progress through season
DETROIT LAKES - The lineup card will have plenty of new names on it, after a good run in the section playoffs for the Detroit Lakes baseball team. All but two Lakers have departed after graduating from last year's team, which made an unexpected r...
DETROIT LAKES - The lineup card will have plenty of new names on it, after a good run in the section playoffs for the Detroit Lakes baseball team.
All but two Lakers have departed after graduating from last year's team, which made an unexpected run to the Section 8-2A semifinals in 2007.
"That's my biggest concern heading into the season," said DL head coach Steve Fuhs of his team's inexperience. "We basically have just two players back who played a lot last year.
"We lost six guys who were three-year starters."
But after basically starting out from scratch, the ceiling is still high -- and DL is in a new section.
The Minnesota State High School League added a third class to baseball, leaving DL in Class 2A, while its normal rivals having been bumped up to 3A -- including Brainerd, Alexandria, Moorhead and Bemidji.
The Lakers will be one of the "big" schools in Section 8-2A, where they reside in the North Sub-Section, along with Bagley, Crookston, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Park Rapids, Roseau, Thief River Falls and Warroad.
The South consists of Breckenridge, Fergus Falls, Frazee, Ottertail Central, Pelican Rapids, Pequot Lakes, Perham and Wadena-Deer Creek.
The first two rounds of the section tourney will be single elimination, as well.
"The section maybe not as competitive as the one we were in, but there are many good teams in our new one," Fuhs said.
The road to the section tournament, though, will be a trial by error route, with all the inexperience adding to the intrigue of who will be starting by the end of the season.
There is a load of players trying out as pitchers, with two having a probable slot in the rotation.
Those two happen to be the only two starters back from last year's team -- seniors Doug Dickie and Chris Gilson.
Each saw good innings on the mound last year and last summer for the Legion team. Now the task is to fill the positions behind them.
"We are building good depth and everyone will get a shot," Fuhs said. "Gilson and Dickie will start just because of their experience, but we have multiple guys trying out."
There are up to 10 players vying for a spot in the rotation or bullpen. They include seniors Nate Berg, Kyle Fode, Jake Syverson and Jon Tolbert.
Juniors hopefuls are Aaron Gnoinsky, Max Knoll, Reed Oistad, Nick Polejewski and Aaron Tovson.
"My philosophy has been to find four starting pitchers and some who can come in for relief," Fuhs added.
But when these players are not pitching, they will be out in the field.
Dickie will call the games for the inexperienced pitchers at catcher, where he caught the majority of games last season.
When he's on the mound, one of three catchers will see time behind the plate in junior Brandon Johnson, Polejewski and Tovson.
Senior Max Bentley returns at first base after playing some in 2007.
In the middle, Oistad will anchor the infield at shortstop, after a good couple of seasons in high school and Legion ball last year.
Knoll and Gnoinsky will each see time at second base, while Tolbert will be a backup at first base.
"Reed (Oistad) has shown to be a very good shortstop, now I'm only looking for consistency," Fuhs said.
Berg and sophomore Brock Johnson will each be in a rotation at third base, as well.
Gilson will take over in center field, being the most experienced player, while Syverson, Fode, Polejewski, Johnson, Tyler Zitzow, Matt Blanchard and Dillon Cole will vie for playing time.
"Our defense will need to be huge because, once again, we don't have the pitching to blow people away with," the DL coach said. "They will put the ball in play and we need to catch the ball and make the routine plays.
"We can't afford to give up free bases on errors and walks."
Offensively, Fuhs knows what he has at the top of the order, but the Lakers will need to rely on the middle to bottom of the order to help produce runs.
Gilson, Dickie and Oistad each had good years at the plate in 2007.
"We'll need some other guys to step up their hitting," Fuhs commented. "We don't have a lot of power and we are not super fast. But I think we can be a good contact-hitting team."
The road is unknown for the 2008 season, but the potential is there for the Lakers, Fuhs added.
"I believe we have the capability to be a good team by the end of the season," he said. "A lot of the kids will get their shot of proving themselves."
Assisting Fuhs will be Terry Eiter. Mike Even will coach the B-team and Jake Blow the freshmen squad.
Detroit Lakes baseball 2008 schedule:
11 at Fergus Falls
15 Wadena-Deer Creek
17 at Moorhead
22 Park Rapids
29 at Crosby-Ironton
6 at Pequot Lakes
9 at Thief River Falls
13 at Staples-Motley
15 at Frazee
22 Thief River Falls
29 Section tournament
31 Section tournament
5-6 Section tournament
12-13 State tournament