NHS baseball team begins new season with new coachTigers are seeking first state tournament berth since 1962
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
A new era has begun for the Northwestern High School baseball team.
Longtime coach Steve Lahti has stepped down and has been replaced by David Crail.
Crail, assistant coach Dan Widiker and volunteer coach Troy Lupa are hoping to improve on a 3-11 record, which was good for seventh place in the Heart O’ North Conference last season.
“As is usually the case, there are a number of talented teams in the conference,” Crail said. “We have two players returning with varsity experience, so our team’s success will be based in part by how quickly we adapt to the varsity level competition. Our young players are going to play a major role in our success.
“With the season being as compact as it is going to be we are going to need to get quality innings from a number of our pitchers.”
The Tigers graduated nine seniors from last year’s team, and leading the team early this spring are Wes Ogren, a 2012 first-team all-conference pick, and Micah Olson and Tanner Follis
“Micah will take on the majority of the catching responsibilities while Tanner’s primary role will be in the middle infield with some pitching duties,” Crail said. “Other positions will vary some based on who’s pitching, and we’ll continue to evaluate these positions with the extra practice time this weather has given us.”
Other seniors this year are: Matthew Scharp, Bo Higgins, Nick Murray and Jordan Rantala. The rest of the roster includes five juniors, 11 sophomores and eight freshmen.
“I consider our youth to be both a strength and weakness for our team,” Crail said. “We don’t have players with significant varsity experience and there may be times where that inexperience shows itself, but what we do have is a large number of players that want to earn a varsity role.
“With that, our players are pushing one another daily to improve in every facet of the game. They realize that if they get comfortable and stop working to improve in a position they are going to get passed up. I see this competition benefiting us in every position as we go through the season.”
Thanks to Mother Nature and a number of spring snowstorms, the Tigers have only played once so far this spring and have had six games postponed.
Northwestern hosted Barron for two games on Tuesday and played two games at Chetek on Thursday.
“I expect us to compete daily,” Crail said. “Teams that go out and compete at high level are sound fundamentally and work to eliminate mistakes are going to be successful. If we can accomplish those things, we are going to put ourselves in a good position to win some games.”
TIGER TALES: Northwestern’s last HON conference title came in 2006 and the only time they advanced to the state tournament was in 1962. ... Team managers are Lyndi Graff, Hayley VanTil, Hannah Trzynka and Olivia Hanrahan. … The Tigers lost to Rice Lake in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
2013 Baseball Roster
Matthew Scharp, Tanner Follis, Micah Olson, Bo Higgins, Nick Murray, Jordan Rantala
Taylor Agamaite, Nick Fitzsimmons, Tyler Blair, Jeb Pflug, Jay Karich
Levi Honkanen, Steve Kastern, Micah Goetsch, Dakota Wiese, Nathaniel Lewis, Nick Learn, Jackson Doller, Ryan Pufall, Bryce Bayliss, Blake Rejio, Luke Jarman
Jake Makela, David Bethards, Thomas Worth, Riley Louma, Steven Markon, Tom Rossman, Blake Nevin, Tyler Payton
2013 Tigers Schedule
Tue., Apr 2 vs. Mellen, canceled
Fri., Apr 5 at Rice Lake, ppd
Thur., Apr 18 at Ashland, ppd
Tue. Apr 23 vs. Chetek, ppd
Thur., Apr 25 at Bloomer, ppd
Tue., Apr 30 at Cumberland, Lost 12-0
Sat., May 4 at Spooner, ppd
Tue. May 7 at Barron (2)
Thur. May 9 at Chetek (2), 4 p.m.
Fri., May 10 at Siren/Webster, canceled
Mon., May 13 vs. Bloomer (2), 4 p.m.
Tue., May 14 vs. Cumberland, 5 p.m.
Thur., May 16 at Hayward (2), 4 p.m.
Sat., May 18 vs. Spooner (2), 11 a.m.
Mon., May 20 at Ladsymith (2), 4 p.m.
Tue., May 21 vs. Superior, canceled
Wed., May 22 at Two Harbors, 4 p.m.
Fri., May 24 WIAA regional game