Going out on top

SPRINGFIELD – Coming into this past season, Springfield senior Shawn Anderson didn’t even know if he would be a starting pitcher for the Tigers.

But over the course of the season, Anderson not only became a starter for the Tigers, but a pretty dependable one at that. And it didn’t end there.

He exceeded his own expectations, going 10-0 on the year with an ERA of .36, not bad for someone who didn’t know what his role was going to be this season.

Anderson was the ace of a Tigers staff that came within a couple of wins of going to the state tournament. His big year was one reason why he was named the 2013 All-Journal Baseball Player of the Year, as voted on by The Journal’s Sports Writers.

Anderson isn’t the hardest thrower out there, with a fastball that tops out in the mid to high 70s. His best asset was his ability to change speeds, something that kept opposing hitters guessing when he was on the mound. He also has a mound presence that his coach Bob Fink said is one of a veteran.

“Last year when I saw him pitch, I saw a lot of ability,” Fink said. “He was put into some situations that were difficult and I went to watch him pitch in the Mankato Fall League and I came back saying ‘we have a very good pitcher.’ I knew he would do well because he can throw strikes and he’s always in control of himself when he’s on the mound. But I never expected him to have the year that he had, and I’m glad he did, because it could not have happened to a better baseball player and a better person.”

While Anderson was doing his job on the mound, the rest of his teammates were doing theres also. He said he never would’ve been able to accomplish this without the steady defense behind him and the pitch-calling of catcher Jake Menage.

The Tigers probably weren’t the popular preseason pick to win the Tomahawk Conference this past year. They managed to do that after going 7-1 in conference play this year and the long road of success didn’t end there.

After losing to Lac qui Parle Valley 2-1 in the third game of the playoffs, the Tigers came back through the elimination bracket to win three straight, including a 7-0 win over LQPV to advance to the Section 3A title game.

While the success seemed to surprise some teams, it didnt’ surprise the Tigers at all.

“We had it in us to go a long ways, it kind of comes natural to us now,” Anderson said.?”We’ve always had pressure on us.”

The Tigers had a new coach in Fink, who took over for long-time coach Brady Schwab. Under Schwab, the Tigers went 13-11 a year ago and Fink helped the Tigers to a 20-5 mark this past year. Their playoff run included a berth in the Section 3A title game, where they lost to Windom 2-1.

Anderson no doubt appreciates what both coaches taught him.

“Brady taught us the game, and this year we had Bob Fink and he was very relaxed and intense when he needed to be,” Anderson said. “That helped us out.”

When Anderson wasn’t pitching, he was willing to do whatever it took to win. And that’s the lasting impression that was left on Fink.

“I will always remember how well he pitched, but what impressed me the most was how I had him play first, I had him play second, and I asked him if he would play third, and his answer every time was ‘whatever is best for the team,’ and he meant that,” Fink said. “The thing that will always stick with me was how coachable he was and what a great leader by example he was.”

As of now, he isn’t exactly sure what he’ll do in the future baseball-wise, but he would like to play somewhere. He’s thinking about playing at North Dakota State University or Augustana.

Springfield has quite a few ties with Augustana. Current Augustana baseball player Alex Fink is from Springfield and Jordan Milbrath, who is now in the Cleveland Indians’ organization, also played at Augustana.

“I have a lot of friends that went there [at Augustana], but NDSU is Division I and my goal is to be up there,” he said. “I’m already committed to go there to NDSU for school, not for baseball, but the coaches there are looking at me.”

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