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Baseball: Irish look to change luck

Last spring the Rosemount baseball team lost eight games by three runs or fewer and finished with a record of 5-15.

Head coach Chris Swansson is hoping the experience provided by his six returning regulars will be enough to put the Irish on the other side of a few of those close games and push the team's record back toward the .500 mark.

"We lost so many close games. It seemed like we just kept finding ways to lose with errors or leaving guys in scoring position. Every game we found ways to lose instead of finding ways to win," Swansson said. "We've been talking a lot about that. We've got a lot of guys back who went through all those close-game situations last year and can help us get on the other side of those games this year."

One of those players who is back is Joe Waite, who earned all-conference honors last year after hitting .318 with 21 hits, five doubles, nine RBI, 11 runs scored and a .386 on-base percentage.

Waite also figures to be one of four go-to pitchers for the Irish after battling arm trouble last season. Also looking to get plenty of innings on the mound are Jordan Tumilson, Morris Valenzuela and Andrew Schwartz, who will spend the rest of his time behind the plate after earning honorable mention all-conference honors last season when he hit .276 with six doubles and 10 RBI.

Swansson also expects to get some innings from Jake Schulze, Andrew Ferris and Nick Seipel, among others.

Returning letterwinners Nate Lemoine and Trevor Kolden add some depth to the Irish lineup. Lemoine got on base at a .350 clip last year and Kolden hit .339 with a .400 on-base percentage and a team-leading 13 runs scored.

Lemoine, Kolden, Waite, Valenzuela, Schwartz and Tumilson head up a class of 22 seniors vying for spots on the varsity roster. Several talented juniors are also looking to land spots on the squad.

"This is my third year and this is the most depth we've had," Swansson said. "All these guys have been playing together since they were little kids, so they like each other and they've had success together. I think the team's strength is going to be its chemistry. The juniors are ready to compete as well, so I think these two classes should be a good combination."

The Irish open the regular season with back-to-back home games April 3 against Park and April 4 against Woodbury. Before that, the team will travel to Vero Beach, Fla., for six days where it will play scrimmages against four local teams and get in some extra practices.

"We're excited to see how we can do against some different competition," Swansson said. "It's our first year doing a trip, so we're excited about it."