Last season, a young Maple Grove baseball team battled winter weather, inexperience, and overcame a ninth-place section seed only to advance to the Section 5AAA championship game.
Crimson coach Darby Carlson is hopeful the weather and the play of the Crimson 9 will heat up early heading into the 2014 season.
Key veterans returning who earned Honorable Mention All-Conference honors last season are senior catcher Blake Whitecotton (.316 batting average, 10 RBI’s), senior pitcher Riley Byland (2 – 0 record with 1.77 ERA), and sophomore shortstop Isaac Collins (.317 batting average, 15 runs scored, 11 stolen bases).
Other key returning players with varsity experience include senior first-baseman Nate Erickson, senior centerfielder Jack Kuebelbeck, senior pitcher Noah Croaker, senior pitcher Mitchell Scott, junior utility infielder/pitcher Mason McMahon, junior outfielder Adam Brant and sophomore pitcher/infielder Brett Schulze.
Top prospects looking to compete for varsity playing time are Ethan Hendricks, Austin Mathison, Matt Vogl, Joey Kmiec, and Bubba Horton.
“We expect our team will be competitive this season,” Carlson said. “Our pitching, defense, and base-running should be solid and keep us in games. However, we’ll need to find out where the crunch time offensive production will come from.”
The Crimson host Blaine Thursday, April 17.