LUVERNE -- The 2019 high school baseball season was winding down and, once again, the Luverne Cardinals were on the verge of playing for a section championship when veteran head coach Mike Wenninger received a phone call.
It was from The Globe sports department, and he was asked if he might recommend one of his players for a Drill episode.
After thinking it over, he said that he couldn’t really recommend just one person. But the team really wanted to do the feature. He said, how about doing a Drill on the seniors? All of them.
Thus originated the idea behind this week’s Drill. Normally, it’s about one special athlete. Once or twice, it’s been about two. This is the first time it’s about half a dozen or so.
And it’s fitting. Over their last 79 games under Coach Wenninger’s leadership, the Luverne High School baseball team has compiled a 65-14 record, and the seniors of 2019 were crucial to building a winning edge. Many of them are playing American Legion baseball today.
Wenninger has been coaching the Luverne high school program for 24 years, and he expects excellence. He can be hard on his players when they make a mental mistake, but they also know that it’s because of high coaching staff expectations that they’ve taken on high expectations of their own.
To see a video of this week’s Drill episode, go online at www.dglobe.com. Here’s a sampling of the interview:
QUESTION: What’s the secret to Luverne’s baseball success?
ANSWER (Jake Haugen): “We’ve had good baseball here in Luverne for the last several years because of good team chemistry, our coaching, and tradition here in Luverne. And we just like to have fun.”
QUESTION: Yes, but what makes the Cardinals special?
ANSWER (Derek Lundgren): “I think some of the things that set us apart from other teams is our willingness to work hard, and just that we’re hungry for more wins. We’ve been successful because I think we’re expected to win from teams of the past -- and because we’ve had help from other players in the past who came back.”
QUESTION: What’s your two cents, Coach Wenninger?
ANSWER (Mike Wenninger): “The city treats us like champions every day, no matter what our win-loss record is. … Practices are not always fun, but we get our work done.”
QUESTION: Tell us something else unique about the team.
ANSWER (Gaige Nath): “Something that people don’t know about our team is that if you strike out three times in a game, you do the sombrero dance, which is a 30-second dance in front of the whole team.”