Baseball: Proven pitchers a plus for Irish
The Rosemount baseball team is getting some much-needed time outdoors this week.
Twenty-eight players headed for Vero Beach, Fla., Sunday night and will return tomorrow having gotten the chance to practice outside every day and play in eight games -- four each for the varsity and JV. Head coach Chris Swansson liked what he saw from the group during the first week of practice at the Irish Dome, but is looking forward to further evaluating his team in an outdoor setting.
"We have 14 seniors this year that we are very excited about with a good mix of underclassmen," he said. "This group of players is very competitive and gets along well. They have been working very hard and are looking forward to this year.... In Florida, we plan on getting in practices and scrimmages that should help us evaluate our talent even further."
The Irish have just a handful of players back from last year's team that lost 10 in a row at one point and finished with an overall mark of 5-16. Four of those returners have pitching experience, however, and that depth could come in handy if the cold spring leads to a condensed schedule that forces the team to play four or five games a week.
"We will need to be consistent in all facets of the game, but primarily defense and pitching," Swansson said. "We play in a great conference and we need to have depth and be ready to compete each day."
One of the team's go-to pitchers will be Jake Schulze, who logged a team-high 39 1/3 innings last spring. All-conference pick Nick Seipel will also provide experience on the mound. He threw 27 2/3 innings and spent the rest of his time at first base where he hit a team-best .407 with 22 hits and eight RBI.
"Jake did a great job pitching for us last year and we are looking forward to him being a leader and one of our top pitchers," Swansson said. "Seipel was also one of our top pitchers and has worked hard this off-season to be successful."
Danny Farris and Matt Thaden also provide experience on the mound and can play around the infield. Jordan Turner is the only holdover in the outfield after getting 30 at bats last spring.
Experience is also on the Irish's side at another important position, catcher, where Anthony Winters was an all-conference selection last year.
"His leadership behind the plate will be very valuable," Swansson said.
Varsity newcomer Andrew Dawson could also see some time at catcher, or in the outfield where Tommy Linder, Brian Herman and Brian Rogers are among those competing for starting spots.
Cole Northwick, Luke Dahl and Carl Waite could all see time in the infield and at the pitcher's mound, along with Alex Hassebroek and Nolan Swalve.
Chris Bauer is also competing for infield time.
The Irish's season opener is scheduled for next Friday, April 5, at home against Eagan.