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Veteran cast returns to lead Nevis baseball team

     A veteran cast returns to lead the Nevis baseball team to another successful season.

     Last season, the Tigers went 8-4 for third place in the Northland Conference and finished with a 10-8 overall record to earn the No. 9 seed in the north for the Section 6A tournament. Sebeka eliminated the Tigers with a 4-3 victory in the playoff opener.

     Being counted on to lead the Tigers this season are senior Eddie Neidviecky (center fielder/pitcher) and juniors Gavin Becker (first baseman/pitcher), Spencer Stack (second baseman), Phil Moore (third baseman), Austin Becker (shortstop/pitcher), Victor Mastley (left fielder/pitcher), Courtland Chase (right fielder), Gavin Hitchcock (catcher) and Brett Byer (pitcher).

     Offensively, five players return who hit at least .300 last season. Austin Becker batted .400 (20 for 50) with 22 runs, 16 stolen bases and 14 RBI in 17 games. Mastley hit .381 (16 for 42) with 22 runs, 14 RBI and six stolen bases in 18 games. Moore hit .324 (12 for 37) with nine runs and seven RBI in 18 games. Gavin Becker hit .319 (15 for 47) with 15 runs, 15 stolen bases and 18 RBI in 17 games. Stark played in 17 games and hit .300 (14 for 50) with 11 runs and 10 RBI. Those five combined for 25 extra-base hits (with Austin Becker’s 11 doubles and two home runs, Mastley’s four doubles and one homer and Moore’s three doubles and one triple leading the way) in helping the Tigers bat .309 as a team.

     Also being counted on to produce at the plate are Neidviecky (14 for 50 for a .280 average, 12 stolen bases, 11 runs, 10 RBI in 18 games), Hitchcock (10 for 40 for a .250 average, six runs, four stolen bases, four doubles, two homers, 14 RBI in 17 games), Chase (9 for 40 for a .225 average, eight runs, seven RBI in 17 games) and Byer (8 for 39 for a .205 average, 12 runs, 10 RBI, four stolen bases in 18 games).

     Leading the pitching staff will be Austin Becker (4-4 record, 3.22 ERA, 44 strikeouts in 37 innings and nine appearances), Gavin Becker (2-2 record, 2.59 ERA, 22 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings and nine appearances), Byer (1-1 record, 4.45 ERA, 14 strikeouts in 11 innings and five appearances), Mastley (2-1 record, 6.42 ERA in 12 innings and five appearances) and Neidviecky (1-0 record, 0.00 ERA in 7 innings and four appearances). That group led the Tigers to a 3.55 team ERA a year ago.

     Providing depth will be senior Michael Tranby (designated hitter/infielder); juniors Brandon Basswood (designated hitter/outfielder), Dustin McGee (outfielder) and Tristan Murchie (catcher/outfielder); sophomore Andrew Sauser (outfielder/pitcher); freshmen Andrew Dudley (infielder/pitcher) and Cameron Gross (catcher/outfielder); and eighth grader Adam Thompson (catcher/second baseman).

     With 44 players, the Tigers will field varsity, junior varsity and junior high teams this spring. Returning plenty of experience has head coach Bill Dent counting on an improved record this season as the Tigers look to contend with defending champion Bagley (11-0) and runner-up Blackduck (10-2) in the conference and challenge defending Section 6A champion New York Mills, which finished third at the state Class A tournament.

     “We are expecting to have a very good season with a veteran and experienced team returning,” said Dent, who will be assisted by Mike Lien and Scott Kramer. “Our conference and section both have excellent baseball teams in them. Our team is experienced with solid pitching and if we hit the ball, we will be tough. We do need to improve defensively. Last season we committed 46 errors and many other mental mistakes which led us into poor play. If we are able to correct those areas, we will really be a solid baseball team. We will need to play very well, but we do expect to compete for the conference title and make a run in the section playoffs. It should be a fun and rewarding season.”