Superior baseball is set to return to the diamond in a delayed but pivotal season of baseball. The Spartans will bring several experienced players back this season while also helping underclassmen develop.

Key returning seniors include pitchers Jonny Rhodes, Jake Edwards and Tucker Johnson. Rhodes also plays shortstop, while Edwards and Johnson provide talent in the outfield.

The Spartans will also benefit from the returning experience of infield players Jason Samarziya and Kaden Kimmes and catcher Ethan Raye.

Juniors will also play a key role, with Mason Stenberg anchoring the pitching staff, while Kell Piggott and George Hansen are also expected opportunities on the mound.

Duluth Denfeld’s Caden Christensen (18) makes it back to first base as Superior’s Mason Stenberg (18) catches the ball in the sixth inning of the Spartans' 3-0 win over the Hunters at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Duluth Denfeld’s Caden Christensen (18) makes it back to first base as Superior’s Mason Stenberg (18) catches the ball in the sixth inning of the Spartans' 3-0 win over the Hunters at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

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While Superior baseball coach Don Dembroski says the team is excited to get back to playing, he also noted there will be some unique obstacles this season, like the adjusted schedule.

“Instead of the usual start in late March, we officially start on April 19,” Dembroski said. “Minnesota schools have a three-week headstart on us. Some of our first opponents will have six to seven games under their belts before we play them.”

Dembroski also noted that the move of football to the spring will present a unique situation for Superior, whose players will need to juggle multiple sports.

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“We have a number of players who are also playing football, which overlaps with baseball this year," he said. "This will be an early season challenge as those players will be splitting time between the two sports.”

Superior’s Tucker Johnson (3) dives for a ball in the seventh inning of the Spartans' 3-0 win over Duluth Denfeld at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Superior’s Tucker Johnson (3) dives for a ball in the seventh inning of the Spartans' 3-0 win over Duluth Denfeld at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Obstacles in mind, Dembroski is still optimistic about the season, noting that the Spartans will feature a range of talent from each class.

“We have a good core of juniors and seniors who are eager to compete this spring and a brand new crew of inexperienced freshmen and sophomores who have never played high school baseball," he said.

For seniors Rhodes and Jonny Samarziya, 2021 will present a chance to work on developing as players after a year out of baseball.

Jonny Samarziya believes he can bring the most to the Spartans by embracing his ability to take on every position on the diamond.

Superior’s Jonny Rhodes (5) safely beats the throw to second base as Denfeld’s Andrew Larson (17) makes a play on the ball in the sixth inning of the Spartans' 3-0 win over the Hunters at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Superior’s Jonny Rhodes (5) safely beats the throw to second base as Denfeld’s Andrew Larson (17) makes a play on the ball in the sixth inning of the Spartans' 3-0 win over the Hunters at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

“I feel I can contribute a lot to this year's team because I am the ultimate U-Man, meaning that I can play pretty much every position on the field,” Rhodes said. “I excel on the defensive side of baseball and will play any position that needs to be filled on any given night.”

Jason Samarziya is aiming to develop as an all-around player, but noted one of his biggest goals isn’t about the bat or the glove.

“Most importantly I would like to continue developing as a leader on the team," he said. "I think that I contribute to the team as one of its leaders.”

For both, this season is a final chance to represent Spartan baseball, one they will not shy away from. Jason Samarziya notes that this season will give him a unique opportunity to be a part of his community again.

“I am looking forward to being able to represent not only the Superior High School, but the entire community one more time," he said.