Pitching depth could pose problem for Chargers

NEW ULM – The storyline for the Minnesota Valley Lutheran baseball team this season may well be that it has a horse in pitcher Nick Dewanz.

But after that, there are some ponies who can also pull the Chargers’ wagon.

Dewanz who was 4-6 last season for MVL, is the lone returning pitcher from a 10-10 team last season.

In fact, Dewanz threw 55 of the 135 innings for MVL last season, second only to then-senior Rick Jensen, who tossed 68 of the innings.

That means that Dewanz will try to find some help from his friends on the mound this season.

“We may be pitching by committee to make up for those innings,” said coach Jeff Schoenherr. “But we know that Nick will give us a lot of innings – we can bank on that. But for the games that he does not start, it will be pitching by committee.”

That committee membership may well be made up of position players who are not pitching that day.

First base battle will be between Dewanz and junior Eric Westphal.

“Second base is wide open because I plan on moving Jake Mielke from second to shortstop,” Schoenherr said. “Third base could also be Dewanz when he is not pitching or Westphal.”

There is some experience back roaming the outfield in senior DeAndre Parker but other than him, there will be new faces catching fly balls.

“It is wide-open there between Rhiley Fluegge, Mike Paninski and Ryley Davis and we will also look at Noah Edwards,”?Schoenherr said. “Noah has speed and he has sat out for a number of sports because of his knee injury. He is fired up to get back.”

Another hole to fill on the Chargers’ wagon and probably just as important as the pitching staff is behind the plate.

“We have a lot of holes to fill right now,” Schoenherr said. “But I am real excited about this season because I think that we have a lot of guys who can fill those holes and that puts the pressure on me as the coach to find the right guys to put out there.”

One of the holes that does not need to be filled is that of the No. 1 starter, which is Dewanz’s spot.

Despite the lack of experience at some positions, Dewanz feels that his team will be competitive.

“We will be a good team this year,” Dewanz said. “And I do not feel any pressure being the only starting pitcher back from last season. I have been working with the other pitchers in practices this spring and they have done well. They are getting their confidence up.”

Dewanz took a pitcher’s mentality when asked what will be the key to the Chargers’ success this season.

“Don’t commit so many errors [35 for the Chargers’ defense last season] and get mentally tough,” he said.

He also knows that what happens in the regular season just builds for the postseason.

Last season the Chargers upset both New Ulm Cathedral and Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial in Section 2A playoffs.

“We are known to shine in tournaments,” Dewanz said.

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