Elmwood baseball team looking to win D-SC title
ELMWOOD - For the Elmwood High School baseball team, the 2014 season is all about the shirts.
The shirt that are usually printed up whenever a prep team wins a conference or regional or sectional championship.
"They're pretty cool to wear and our guys want one too." Elmwood head coach Mike Britzer said.
The Raiders came close last season. They were a game-back in second place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference Small Division standings at 6-2 (9-4 overall) to Alma/Pepin and lost a close contest to Spring Valley in the regional semifinals. While EHS lost five lettermen to graduation in All D-SC players Logan Wolf, Eli Fredrickson, David Rhy and Josh Wells, they bring back All D-SC players in juniors Noah Wells and Levi Wolf along with senior lettermen Tyler Freyholtz and Colin Arneson and junior Travis Joyce.
Wells will be the Raiders' starting pitcher with Wolf in as No. 2 starter. Wolf will play shortstop most of the time (and when he's not at a track meet) with he and Wells trading off at shortstop. Other infield positions will go to Freyholtz at first, Joyce at third and Arneson in centerfield.
There are a lot of open spots to fill and how quickly they are filled will rest the outcome of Elmwood's season. Candidates include Martin Nunez, Hunter Freyholtz, Ryan Asher, Justin Joyce and Tyce Todd.
"Depth is going to be very important to us," Birtzer said. "A lot of the open spots in the line-up, guys are going to be replacing a lot of innings lost to graduation. Eli Fredrickson, for example, was our catcher for the past three seasons. You just don't replace that right away. It's going to take time and hopefully we have enough of it this season compared to last."
Birtzer is also looking for more consistent hitting from the Raiders this season.
"I thought we did a good job getting clutch hitting last season, but we weren't very consistent," Birtzer said. "We need to get better, we need to get some guys back to their batting averages earlier in their careers."
Better hitting will be helpful in a D-SC Small that Birtzer sees as very competitive.
"The league will be incredibly tough this season because every team has a good pitcher and good players to compete with," Birtzer said. "For us, every lettermen we have and few more have to play well for us to have a shot at the title again and they are more than capable of doing so."
Elmwood hopes their next contest, at home vs. Elk Mound Monday, will go better than their season-opener last week at Durand, an 11-1, five inning loss.