Mertz nears yet another milestone

NEW ULM – New Ulm Cathedral softball coach Bob Mertz is about to enter another exclusive club sometime soon.

Mertz now has 698 career coaching wins with the Greyhounds. He can crack the 700-win total Thursday at Sleepy Eye.

The 700 career coaching wins means that New Ulm will now have two members of the “700 Club” as Mertz will join retired New Ulm High School baseball coach Jim Senske, who totaled 707 wins with the Eagles and is also the winningest high school baseball coach in Minnesota history.

But Senske may soon find himself as either number two or three. Brainerd’s Lowell Scearcy has 685 career wins and St. Cloud Cathedral coach Bob Karnitz has 684 wins. Both of them are still coaching.

EAGLES BOY’S GOLF TEAM ONE OF THE BEST: New Ulm High School boy’s golf coach Dan Janke said that in his nine years as head coach, this is the best team that he’s had.

“I have had some other players like Jimmy Fromm and Scott Paa but I just never had the depth,” Janke said. “With a team like Jimmy, you would go close to par but then I would be hoping for an 85 for my fourth score. But with the guys that I have now – sophomore Ethan Kraus, juniors Colin Huffman and Jonah Cooper and seniors Kelton Schmitz, Matt Saffert, Peder Johnson and Tanner Zupfer – all seven of them can do under 80 on any day.”

Most of the players have been on the Eagles’ squad for a while. Schmitz and Saffert have played on the varsity since seventh grade. Kraus. Cooper and Huffman have played since eighth grade.

“They all have been on the course all of the summers and I have known that this group has been coming,” Janke said. “All seven of them love the game – after a meet they will all go play afterwards on their own as a group. And they are all buddies -they encourage each other to get better.”

Even when this group was in seventh and eighth grade, Janke said that the players would be calling their parents to see if it was OK to play more golf after a meet.

“I am dead tired driving home and they are talking about playing nine or 18 more holes,” Janke said.

Golf is an individual but team game and each player has their own course personality.

“Kelton’s short game is incredible – he has a golf course in his yard,” Janke said. “Ethan is a bigger hitter and his accuracy to the greens is pretty good. Colin is a good hitter off of the box and has some good irons.”

Janke said that Zupfer and Cooper “are more consistent. Kelton is the best course manager on the team.”

A return to the state tournament is again on the team’s mind.

“But we are in a tougher section with Marshall this year,”?Janke said. “We need to eliminate the big mistakes. But this is a mature team. And I think that all of the members of this team can play college golf. Kelton is walking on South Dakota University. All of them could play at the D-III level.”

EAGLES BASEBALL TEAM ON GOOD START: Four games into the baseball season, the New Ulm Eagles (3-1) are hitting .362 as a team.

“We are coming our of the shoots hitting the ball,” coach Jay Backer said. “Usually pitching is ahead of hitting but right now we are seeing the ball well at the plate. We have numerous players now who have inflated batting averages that are going to go down but now are really stinging the ball and that is a real surprise for us.”

Leading the Eagles in hits is Judd Davis with seven and Jackson Yackley with five.

“There is not a kid right now in the starting line-up that is struggling,” Backer said. “He may not have the high average but they are hitting the ball.”

The Eagles are also getting solid pitching.

“Chase Meyer has not thrown yet because of his (leg) injury but he will be back soon,” Backer said. “[Tanner] Kluis has thrown well (2-0 with a 0.00 ERA]. Andy Stewart came in and was a nice surprise against Blue Earth [Area]. Tyler Dittrich has been throwing the ball very well – Wyatt Peterson is around the plate. We are going to need to find that pitching depth because we have a lot of games.”

New Ulm has a big sectional game here Monday at noon at Mueller Park against unbeaten Luverne.

“We do not want to put too much stock into this game,” Backer said. “It is a regular season game and it is important for seedings.”

LOCAL STUFF: Jason Shaul is hitting .398 for the University of Mary. He has scored 32 runs and leads the Mauraders in doubles with 13, triples with three and RBI with 27… Zach Hoffman is hitting .382 for St. Cloud State. He has three home runs and 35 RBI… Garrett Fischer is hitting .375 for St. Cloud State with 34 runs scored and 22 RBI.. Kyle Fischer is 6-1 for St. Cloud State. He has an ERA of 2.13, In 55 innings he has recorded 52 strikeouts.

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