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Tigers look for more success by young team

  Bill Dent is counting on a year of experience from a young team to lead to a more successful season for a still young Nevis baseball team this spring.

     A year ago, the Tigers went 6-11 in Northland Conference play and 6-15 overall without a senior on the roster.

     This year, the Tigers will once again feature a young roster with one senior, one junior and 11 sophomores.

     “We are still very young,” said Dent, whose team was the No. 8 seed in the North half of Section 6A and opened the playoffs with a 3-2 loss in 10 innings to Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in a play-in game. “We started a minimum of six freshmen last year and struggled early to be competitive. We improved and lost several close games at the end of the year. We hope to win the close games this season and finish with a winning record.”

     Leading the Tigers this season will be senior Gerald Beckerleg (outfield); junior Eddie Niedviecky (third base); and sophomores Austin Becker (pitcher/shortstop), Brett Byer (pitcher/center field), Gavin Becker (pitcher/first base), Victor Mastley (outfield/catcher), Gavin Hitchcock (catcher/first base), Phil Moore (third base/outfield), Spencer Stack (catcher/infield), Dustin McGee (pitcher/outfield), Courtland Chase (outfield/infield), Taylor Plautz (outfield) and Tristan Murchie (outfield).

     Chase (.500 average), Austin Becker (.417 average), Gavin Becker (.385 average), Mastley (.349 average), Niedviecky (.303 average), Byer (.301 average) and Hitchcock (.286 average) return to lead the offense while Austin Becker (86 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings) and Gavin Becker (2-0 record) return to lead the pitching staff.

     “We will need to hit better and limit our strikeouts to improve and win games. We pitched pretty well last year and our defense was adequate, but we could not consistently hit or produce runs,” said Dent. “If we can do a better job of getting on base and moving runners, our play and winning record will take care of itself.”

     Dent is looking for the Tigers to challenge Pine River-Backus, Cass Lake, Laporte and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley for the top spot in the south half of the conference and earn a higher seed for the section playoffs.

     “We have good talent and a lot of desire to win. I believe that we could challenge for the top spot in the south half of our conference. We are in a tough section, but we hope to be in the mix in the section this season instead of playing in the pigtail game like last year. For us to win in the playoffs, we must win our section games and receive a decent seed. I think we can improve enough to do that,” said Dent. “I have a great and enthusiastic group of young guys who are anxious to play and get better. We have a long ways to go, but I am confident that this group will play for a championship in the near future.”