Veteran lineup returns to lead talented Tigers
A senior-dominated lineup has head coach Bill Dent expecting another successful season from the Nevis baseball team.
The Tigers return eight starters from a team that finished second in the Northland Conference standings with an 8-3 record and 14-7 overall. Nevis received the No. 4 seed in the West for the Section 5A playoffs and was eliminated in the first round with a 15-9 loss to Pillager, which went on to defeat Walker-Hackensack-Akeley in the section title game to advance to state.
Returning to lead the Tigers are seniors Adam Thompson, Jack DeWulf, Sam Hitchcock, Tucker Roehl and Dillon McGee; junior Ben Soldwisch; and sophomores Luke DeWulf and Dan Mistic. Senior Jack Landquist hasn't yet decided whether to play baseball this spring.
Thompson, Jack DeWulf and Luke DeWulf received all-conference honors while Landquist and McGee earned all-conference honorable mention honors.
The graduation of Andrew Dudley leaves the only starting spot to fill. Dudley was the team's MVP and a two-time all-conference player who went 3-1 with two saves and a 4.08 ERA in eight pitching appearances while batting .333 (21 for 63) with a team-high 22 RBI, nine runs scored and eight steals in 20 games.
Vying for the other starting spot are sophomores Shep Davis and Logan Funk with sophomores Wyatt Rech and Ethan Tauber and freshman Derek Lindow serving as reserves.
Projected as starters are Landquist or McGee at first base, Davis at second base, Thompson at shortstop, Hitchcock at third base, Mistic in left field, Jack DeWulf in center field, Roehl or Funk in right field, and Luke DeWulf at catcher. Soldwisch (outfielder), Rech (infielder), Tauber (catcher/outfielder) and Lindow (first base) will provide depth.
A year ago, the Tigers hit .364 as a team with 35 doubles, six triples and four home runs while scoring 171 runs and stealing 108 bases. The pitching staff had a 4.26 ERA, allowing 129 runs (48 of which were unearned), 152 hits and 100 walks while recording 137 strikeouts.
"We will have a solid team with eight starters back. We are a solid hitting team with better than average speed. We can hit and run and we will need to use this as our greatest advantage in games. We have above average pitching and expect to have a good overall staff," said Dent, who will be assisted by Alex White, Jacob Marcus and Shawn Klimek. "This is a great group of senior athletes to coach. All are an indication of the type of guys we have at Nevis. These players do not like losing and will compete to the last play. I am expecting a very fun and rewarding year."
Returning as the top pitchers are Jack DeWulf, McGee, Luke DeWulf and Thompson. Roehl and Lindow also saw some time on the mound last season while Davis and Rech will also be counted on to throw some innings.
Jack DeWulf, who is recovering from an injury, led the Tigers by throwing 32.2 innings and making eight appearances and six starts. DeWulf went 5-2 with a 3.43 ERA, allowing 37 hits, 29 runs (16 earned) and 29 walks while striking out 40.
McGee was second with 24.2 innings pitched, going 2-2 with a 3.97 ERA. In a team-leading 10 appearances (including four starts), McGee gave up 21 hits, 27 runs, 14 earned runs and 18 walks with 20 strikeouts.
Thompson posted a 1-0 record with two saves in eight relief appearances. Thompson threw 20 innings and issued 18 runs (13 earned) on 25 hits and 11 walks while striking out 27 for a 4.55 ERA.
Luke DeWulf made five starts and a relief appearances, going 2-2 with a 5.51 ERA. In 20.1 innings, DeWulf allowed 21 runs (16 earned) on 27 hits and 16 walks while striking out 16.
Roehl had a 1-0 record in six outings (two as a starter), allowing eight earned runs (15 overall) on 16 hits and 10 walks with seven strikeouts in 10 innings of work.
Lindow made two pitching appearances, allowing two runs (one earned) on one hit and two walks while striking out three in 1.1 innings for a 5.25 ERA.
Offensively, Thompson, the DeWulfs, Mistic and Landquist played in all 21 games last season while Hitchcock and McGee were starters in 20 games.
Thompson batted .438 (32 for 73, including six doubles and one triple) with a team-leading 35 runs scored and 31 stolen bases. Thompson also had 12 RBI.
Luke DeWulf hit .435 (30 for 68, including six doubles, two triples and one home run) with 19 runs scored, 18 RBI and 11 steals.
Jack DeWulf batted .407 (33 for 81) with four doubles, one triple, two homers, 20 runs scored, 20 RBI and 13 steals.
Hitchcock hit .385 (20 for 52, including four doubles) with 10 runs scored, 13 steals and eight RBI.
Mistic batted .354 (23 for 65 with seven doubles) with 15 runs scored, eight steals and seven RBI.
Landquist hit .297 (19 for 64, including two doubles) with 14 RBI, 10 runs and six stolen bases.
McGee batted .283 (15 for 53, including a double) with 10 RBI, seven runs and five stolen bases.
Roehl played in 16 games and batted .324 (12 for 37, including a pair of triples) and contributed 13 runs, seven steals and six RBI.
Soldwisch returns after playing in 17 games and batting .500 (4 for 8) with five runs scored, three RBI and two steals.
Also back after seeing some time at the plate are Tauber (1 for 1 with four runs scored and three RBI in five games), Lindow (1 for 1 with a double, two runs and one RBI in two games), Davis (1 for 4 with four runs, one RBI and one steal in 14 games), Funk (0 for 2 with five runs in 11 games) and Rech (0 for 1 with one run in five games).
Walker-Hackensack-Akeley won the conference title with a 14-0 record while the Tigers followed. Rounding out last year's conference standings were Pine River-Backus at 8-4, Blackduck at 7-5, Lake of the Woods at 5-5, Cass Lake a 6-7, Northome-Kelliher at 4-7, Laporte at 1-9 and Red Lake at 0-11.
With a veteran team returning, Dent is counting on the Tigers to contend for both the conference and section titles this spring.
"I like our team's chances in the conference this year. Walker will be the team to beat again in our half. They have been very, very good the last two seasons, and even with graduation, they will be tough. Pine River-Backus always plays well. Blackduck is on the other half of the conference and I expect them to battle every game. They should win their half and play in the conference championship. We return more players than anyone else and we expect to play in the championship game," said Dent. "We also feel like we can compete with anyone in the section.We have taken our lumps (in the section tournament) during the past two years, but now with our senior group, we know that we have a great chance to advance and get to the final four section teams. We need to take the next steps of pitching and playing defense each game out to win the championships that are in front of this team."