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Prep baseball: New focus for Trojans this spring

WORTHINGTON -- If last year did anything for the Worthington Trojans baseball team, it taught players the importance of focus. Inconsistency frustrated the Trojans en route to a 6-10 spring record. Head coach Stacy Sauerbrei said the team struggl...

 

WORTHINGTON - If last year did anything for the Worthington Trojans baseball team, it taught players the importance of focus.
Inconsistency frustrated the Trojans en route to a 6-10 spring record. Head coach Stacy Sauerbrei said the team struggled with the “mental aspect” of baseball.
“I think we let situations get to us sometimes. We didn’t always think ahead. In baseball, you have to think out situations,” said the coach as he looked ahead to 2015.
This year, however, WHS is more experienced, with 10 lettermen in spring camp. Roque Soto, one of those veterans, says the squad has “more leadership as the underclassmen are coming up.”
A senior pitcher/second baseman, Soto said new signals, and an emphasis on communication between infielders in every situation will help the team turn last season around.
“We can compete, but we’re going to have to be at the top of our game. We’re going to have to have our ‘A’ game. Every time,” Soto explained.
WHS opens the season at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Worthington against Heron Lake-Okabena.
Just two experienced seniors graduated last year’s Worthington team, and two all-conference players return in junior pitcher/third baseman Nathan Braaksma and senior pitcher/first baseman Trevor Wietzema.
Braaksma finished 2014 well, and he’s being penciled in for a lot of innings this season. He hit over .300 last year and can also play shortstop or the outfield.
Wietzema is another .300-plus hitter and proven run producer.
Other lettermen on the team include: senior outfielder Blake Fauskee, senior catcher/pitcher Carson Hagen, senior infielder Joe Pavelko, senior outfielder Logan Thuringer, junior infielder Torey Rogers and sophomore pitcher Tucker Sorenson.
Fauskee and Thuringer are experienced outfielders and good baserunners.
As a pitcher, Hagen, who pitched a shutout last season, shows a live fastball and attacks the strike zone. He will also catch and do designated hitter duties.
Russell is expected to be one of the team’s most dependable pitchers. He throws hard and has a big curve.
Soto is a slick infielder.
Competition within the Big South Conference will be keen. Worthington is in the same division as New Ulm, Fairmont, Waseca, St. Peter and Marshall. Although WHS will still play traditional opponents like Luverne and Windom Area, only the games played against division opponents will be counted in league play.
“We’re going to have a good ball club. But everybody else is going to have good ball clubs, too,” Sauerbrei warns.
The Trojans will be more aggressive than they’ve been in the recent past. Sauerbrei says the team will probably do more bunting as it manufactures ways to push across runs.
That doesn’t mean the team can’t hit.
“I see us being a much better hitting team than last year,” said the coach, adding, “We don’t have a dominant No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher right now. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. It might be a good thing.”
Assistant coach Brian Iverson has been helping the pitchers become more aggressive with the strike zone. He’s focusing on good mechanics and solid mental approach - such as, learning to throw strikes in crisis situations.
“A year ago, we weren’t able to do that at all,” Sauerbrei said.
Defensively, the team appears sound.
“We’re two-deep in every infield position. And we’re five-deep in the outfield. We’ve got some speed. We’ve got some speed coming off the bench,” Sauerbrei said.

 

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JESSE TRELSTAD/DAILY GLIOBE Trevor Wietzema (left) and Worthington Trojan baseball teammates warm up their arms during practice on a chilly afternoon.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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