WHS BASEBALL: WHS wants SWC crownWORTHINGTON — The Worthington baseball team has high expectations for this upcoming season.
WORTHINGTON — The Worthington baseball team has high expectations for this upcoming season.
The Trojans finished the 2011 season with a 12-8 record (9-3 Southwest Conference), but have even higher hopes for this year.
The team is hoping to claim the conference title and says it has a realistic shot of qualifying for the state tournament.
It’s still a long ways away from tournament time, but the Trojans certainly have their goals set.
“For us to win, for us to reach those goals, we have to take things game by game,” WHS senior Nathan Jensen said. “We can’t get too caught up in the end of the season when we’re only at the beginning, but if we take things one game at a time those goals may be achieved.”
The Trojans are returning numerous players to the field from last year, including seven seniors who all saw significant time on varsity last season.
Luke Henning, Jensen, Jon Reller, Eric Koob, Tanner Rogers, Tyler Verdoorn and Tommy Hayenga represent Worthington’s senior class.
All in all, the Trojans have 17 athletes on their varsity squad, all who will see playing time at one point during the season.
“What is working for us right now is that we have a group of guys out here who love to play baseball,” WHS coach Stacy Sauerbrei said. “They put in the time at practice and they work hard each day. They’re enthusiastic and that’s what counts.
“As far as skills, we have a lot of kids who can pitch, so we should have a solid rotation and a number of guys to turn to. We’re hoping that will be a strength for us throughout the season.”
The Trojans have plenty to work on before the season starts.
Right now, the team has mainly been focusing on getting everyone’s arms in shape. Sauerbrei said a lot of the players tend to throw as hard as they can right away, but, ideally, the coach wants them to gradually build up to full strength.
With a lot of these athletes continuing to play baseball during the summer, it turns into a long season that begins in March and doesn’t end until nearly August. So the coaches don’t want the Trojans to overdo anything too soon.
Other than strength and conditioning, the players think batting is what needs to be worked on the most in the coming weeks.
“I think the thing we need to focus on the most right now is our hitting,” Verdoorn said. “We’ve been hitting well in the cage and off the tee, but we haven’t gotten a lot of reps outside yet, and that’s going to make a difference. But the good thing is we have a lot of guys who have seen pitching at the varsity level before, so we should be comfortable when we’re at the plate.”
Overall, the Worthington squad is feeling confident entering its regular season schedule.
The Trojans open up the season Tuesday with a home game against Southwest United.
With opening day right around the corner, the Trojans couldn’t be more excited to get things underway. And with the enthusiasm of the athletes and the talent on the team, it could turn out to be a good year for Worthington.
“Our primary goal is to be a competitive team each time we step out onto the field,” Sauerbrei said. “We obviously want to win more than we lose, that’s always a bonus. But more than anything we want these kids to learn and get better each game and hopefully learn some life lessons beyond the sport of baseball while they’re here.”
Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.