PREP BASEBALL: Numbers could be a problem for Chargers

NEW ULM – Numbers in baseball usually consist of runs scored, hits and strikeouts.

But for the Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers baseball team, numbers reflect in a different way.

“We only have 10 players out who will probably be seeing playing time on the varsity,” said Chargers’ head baseball coach Jeff Schoenherr. “We have 19 players total in our program. I have talked to some of the guys on the B-squad about moving up. They are all about the playing time and the program.”

Schoenherr added that he is seeing potential in a lot of the underclassmen.

“By the end of the year they could be getting some playing time,” he said.

Right now, Schoenherr has penciled in either Nick Dewanz or Rick Jensen at first base.

“I would also like to try Tyler Mielke at that spot,” he said.

Jake Mielke will man second base, with Justin Bruns at shortstop and Chad Lease at third base.

“Ryan Grunke will be catching again,” Schoenherr said. “I ended the season with him behind the plate and he really looks good there.”

Grunke hit .340 for MVL last season.

Patrolling the outfield will be Kris Goetzke in left field, with Grant Wilson in center field and DeAndre Parker in right field.

Schoenherr said that the strength of the Chargers this season will be the pitching staff.

“Pitching has been our strength in the last few years and it will be again,” he said. “We do not have dominant pitching, but we have players who can come out and throw strikes. I remember years where I had two pitchers and then after that it was just put someone on the mound who can throw. But going into this year I have five players who can pitch.”

Richard Jensen will lead the Chargers’ mound staff. He was 3-1 last season with a 2.50 ERA.

Bruns and Goetzke along with Dewanz will see pitching time.

“Jensen and Dewanz will be my top two pitchers,” Schoenherr said.

For Bruns, this year’s Chargers team is a matter of banding the small number of players together.

“We do not have a lot of numbers, but a lot of our players did play summer baseball last year,” he said. “I think that will give us more experience and that will give us the edge. I can see it when we are practicing now just the experience from summer ball last year. We are much more improved.”

Last year, Bruns led the Chargers in hitting with a batting average of .375. He was tied for the team lead in hits at 18, doubles with four and was second in RBI with 11.

Bruns feels that if the Chargers’ defense is solid, they will be a good team.

“We have some pretty good hitters this year,” Bruns said. “We need to improve on our defense.”

Last year, MVL committed 44 errors as a team.

Schoenherr looks to Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s as the Tomahawk Conference pick.

“But overall, it will be a tough conference,” he said. “And in the section, it could be St. Mary’s, but BOLD, who won the section last year, did not lose anything from last year. We hope to be towards the top in the conference.”

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