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PREVIEW: Spartans open at Grand Rapids

Seniors on this year’s Superior High School baseball team are Justin Reinkall, left, Jared Danovsky (23), C.J. Fortune (8) and Gunner Johnson (10). (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

The Superior High School baseball team enters the 2017 season looking to replace seven graduating seniors, including Austin Sears, who was second-team all-conference; captain and defensive MVP Matt Strum, and starting catcher Hunter Hockenbrock.

Key players returning for Spartan head coach Don Dembroski are seniors Justin Reinkall and Gunner Johnson, who were both first-team all-conference.

Reinkall and Johnson will anchor the pitching staff. Reinkall will also play shortstop, and Johnson will be in either the outfield or at first base.

Other middle infielders are juniors Brandon Wing and Devin Samarzia and sophomores Judd Erickson and Ben Rhodes. Juniors Mason Moen and Michael LaJoie join Johnson at first base, and senior Jared Danovsky and sophomore Derek Fender are battling it out at third base.

Other outfielders are juniors Spencer Udeen, Dominic D’Auria and Drake Samarzia; and sophomores Connor Fonger and Isaac Rios.

“We were decent defensively last year and I think we can be even better this year,” Dembroski said. “We have some depth in outfield, and things are a little less clear in the infield.”

Dembroski is looking for more pitching to join Reinkall and Johnson on the mound.

“Justin gives us a legitimate No. 1 pitcher and Gunner is a crafty lefty with plenty of experience, but after those two we’re a bit inexperienced in the pitching department,” Dembroski said. “We literally have a log jam of 7-8 guys competing for varsity innings and are waiting for a few of those to step up and earn those outings. Some will pitch varsity and some JV.”

Battling to replace Hockenbrock at catcher are senior CJ Fortune, Erickson, LaJoie and D’Auria.

“Catching is another area where we are inexperienced, but CJ, Judd and a couple others are working hard at that position,” Dembroski said. “Of course, we’ll need to hit some, and guys that hit, almost always find a way into the lineup.”

Dembroski got to take a look at his team in action during Saturday’s scrimmage with Duluth East.

“We played a bunch of guys, all over the place,” Dembroski said. “Some competed and played a little better than others, but one thing I know is that the evaluations for starting positions is an ongoing process and will change throughout the year.”

Superior went 12-12 last season, and finished fourth in the Lake Superior Conference with a 4-3 mark.

Proctor (5-2) finished in first place, and Duluth Denfeld (6-2) and Duluth Marshall (4-2) tied for second.

“Proctor, just because they are defending champs, is the team to beat again this season,” Dembroski said. “Denfeld has improved a lot the last few years, and their program numbers are up; and Ashland is returning many of their top players from last year.”

The Spartans open the season with a non-conference game at Grand Rapids at 4:30 today.

Pitch count

Both Wisconsin and Minnesota have implemented pitch count limits this year.

New limits include a maximum of 100 pitches in an outing, which would then lead to three days of rest. One day of rest will be required for 31-49 pitches and two days for 50-75 pitches.

“It will be interesting to see how that plays out this season,” Dembroski said. “We followed the Pitch Smart Guidelines last year, which are very similar, so I think we’ll be ok.

“It will be interesting to see if other teams try to run pitch counts up on their opponents, but the bottom line is guys just need to avoid deep counts by throwing early strikes. I don’t see us really changing our offensive approach.”

SPARTAN SPIN: Dembroski has an 18-year record of 182-175 with the Spartans. … Dembroski’s captains are Fortune and Reinkall. … The Spartans’ assistant coaches are Ryan Hendry, Keith Johnson and Taavi Mattson, and Jesse Samarziya is the JV coach. … The team managers are Skylar Barber, Amber Belwood and Creede McClellan. … The Spartans lost to River Falls 7-2 in last year’s WIAA regional semifinals. … Superior’s last state tournament appearance was when the Spartans went 1-1 in 1975. They also went 1-1 at state in 1969, 1970, 1972 and 1973. Superior Central High School went to state twice — 1954 and 1965. … Superior’s last LSC title came in 2004. The Spartans also won LSC titles in 1987-88, 1989, 1991-92, 1994, 1996 and 2000-2004.

 

Superior High School

2017 Baseball Roster

Head Coach: Don Dembroski

2  Conner Fonger................ OF               So.

3  Isaac Rios...................... OF               So.

4  Drake Samarzia.............. OF                Jr.

5  Devin Samarzia.............. INF               Jr.

8  C.J. Fortune (C)............... C                  Sr.

10 Gunner Johnson............ OF/1B          Sr.

12 Derek Fender................. INF            Soph.

13 Mason Moen.................. INF               Jr.

15  Brandon Wing............... INF               Jr.

16 Dominic D’Auria............ OF                Jr.

17 Spencer Udeen.............. OF                Jr.

18 Ben Rhodes................... INF            Soph.

21  Judd Erickson.............. INF            Soph.

22 Justin Reinkall (C)......... INF               Sr.

23 Jared Danovsky............ INF               Sr.

24 Michael LaJoie.............. INF               Jr.

2017 Baseball Roster

2017 JV Baseball Roster

2  Nathan Lundeen............. OF                Fr.

3  Isaac Rios...................... OF/P            So.

4  Jakob Holmlund............. OF               So.

5  Wyatt Reed..................... INF/P           Fr.

6  Austin LeJeune.............. 1B/P            Fr.

9  Max Curtis...................... 1B/OF/C      So.

11 Joseph Barker............... INF/P           Fr.

12 Derek Fender................. INF/P         Soph.

13 David Fender................. OF/1B/P      So.

14 Blake Arnovich.............. 1B                Fr.

15  Gunnar Hansen............. C/INF           Fr.

18 Austin Hunker................ INF               Fr.

18 Ben Rhodes................... INF/P           So.

19 Will Schorr..................... OF/P            Fr.

21  Judd Erickson.............. INF/C/P       So.

22 Tristian Nolan................ OF/P            Fr.

23 Sean McCoshen............ OF/INF         Fr.

24 Riley Rehnstrand........... INF               Fr.

 

 

Superior High School

2017 Baseball Schedule

Fri., April 7......... at Grand Rapids, 4:30 p.m.

Mon., April 10.... vs. Northwestern, 4:30 p.m.

Thur., April 13.... at Hayward, 4 p.m.

Mon., April 17.... vs. Duluth East, 4:30 p.m.

Fri., April 21....... SHS Orlandi Invite, TBD

Sat., April 22...... SHS Orlandi Invite, TBD

Tue., April 25..... at Cloquet, 4:30 p.m.

Fri., April 28....... vs. Chip. Falls (2), 4 p.m.

Mon., May 1....... at Duluth Denfeld, 4:30 p.m.

Thur., May 4....... at Duluth Marshall, 4:30 p.m.

Sat., May 6........ at Menomonie (2), 11 a.m.

Tue., May 9........ vs. Proctor, 4:30 p.m.

Sat., May 13...... vs. E.C. Mem. (2), 11 a.m.

Tue., May 16...... vs. Ashland (2), 4:30 p.m.

May 19-20.......... Hibbing Wood Bat

Tue., May 23...... at Hermantown, 4:30 p.m.

Thur., May 25..... vs. New Richmond (2), 4

Tue., May 30...... WIAA Regional Semi Final

Thur., June 1...... WIAA Regional Final

Tue., June 6....... WIAA Sectional Finals at RF

June 13-15       WIAA State - Grand Chute

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