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Braves counting on being a contender in conference

With 12 letterwinners returning from last year's team, Charlie Dormanen is expecting the Menahga baseball team to return as a challenger in the Park Region Conference and Section 6A ranks.

With 12 letterwinners returning from last year's team, Charlie Dormanen is expecting the Menahga baseball team to return as a challenger in the Park Region Conference and Section 6A ranks.

A year ago, the Braves finished sixth in the conference with a 5-9 record and ended the season with an 8-13 overall mark. Menahga defeated Parkers Prairie 5-3 in the first round of the Section 6A East playoffs before being eliminated with a 12-2 loss to Bertha-Hewitt.

Dormanen is counting on the Braves to move up in the conference standings and advance further in the playoffs this spring.

"We have a tough conference and subsection," said Dormanen. "We hope to contend in the conference and pull off some upsets in the subsection."

Leading Menahga this spring will be the 12 returning letterwinners: seniors Alex Pederson, Tyler Ahlf, Dan Towers and Isaiah Davis; juniors Alex White, Brady Yrjo, Andy Floyd and Mitch Melander; sophomores Derek Pihlaja, Andy Beck and Matt Skoog; and freshman Kasey Tyge. That group helped the Braves hit .286 as a team and post a 5.25 team ERA.

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Pederson, a pitcher/infielder, will serve as captain after earning all-conference and all-subsection honors last season. Pederson had a 4-3 record and 2.94 ERA in nine appearances on the mound last season. Pederson allowed 57 hits and 41 runs (20 earned) with 47 strikeouts and 21 walks in 47 2/3 innings. Pederson also hit .343 (23 for 67) with six doubles, 19 runs, 12 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 20 games.

Ahlf was another all-conference and all-subsection selection after leading the Braves with a .421 batting average (24 for 57, including five doubles and one home run). Ahlf scored 14 runs and led the team with 17 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 21 games. Ahlf, who will start in the outfield, went 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in four pitching appearances last season. He allowed 18 runs (nine earned) on 20 hits with eight walks and nine strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings.

Towers will pitch and play first base after going 2-2 with an 8.22 ERA and hitting .318 (14 for 44) last season. In nine appearances and 23 innings, Towers gave up 35 hits and 43 runs (27 earned) with 24 strikeouts and 26 walks. Offensively, Towers had eight runs, eight RBI and four stolen bases.

Davis will play the outfield and pitch after batting .220 (11 for 50) and going 1-1 with a 5.46 ERA last season. Davis played in 16 games and had six runs, seven RBI and three stolen bases while allowing 23 hits and 23 runs (13 earned) with 17 walks and 17 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings on the mound.

White returns at shortstop after hitting .204 (10 for 49) with nine runs, six RBI and two stolen bases in 20 games.

Yrjo batted .294 (15 for 51) with nine runs, six RBI and seven stolen bases in 21 games. Yrjo, who went 0-2 with a 12.35 ERA in two pitching appearances last season, will play third base.

Floyd will start at second base after hitting .245 (12 for 49) and compiling 14 runs, eight RBI and five stolen bases in 20 games.

Melander played in 10 games and went 2 for 13 with two runs and one RBI last season. Melander will provide depth in the outfield.

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Pihlaja will pitch and play the infield after going 4 for 19 with six runs last season.

Beck saw action in 11 games and went 1 for 5 with one run and one RBI last season. Beck will contend for a starting outfield position.

Tyge will pitch and play the infield after going 5 for 23 with three runs and three RBI last spring.

Skoog saw limited time in two games, going 1 for 3. Skoog will catch this year.

Junior Brandon Mickelson will pitch and play the outfield while freshmen Sean Dormanen (pitcher/outfielder), Ben Skoog (infielder) and Jake Dissmore (first baseman) will provide depth.

"Our seniors need to show leadership on the field and play up to their potential and our juniors who had playing time last year need to have good seasons," said Dormanen, who will be assisted by Brett Dormanen and Troy Wunderlich. "Our pitching depth is a question mark and we need to score more runs. This is a hard-working group of athletes. We expect to have a winning regular season and surprise some teams in the playoffs."

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