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Spartans enter 2009 season with youngest team in years

The Superior High School baseball team was believed to be young and inexperienced when it opened practice for the 2009 season. After all, the Spartans lost 11 players through graduation and returned only five seniors from last year's squad that w...

The Superior High School baseball team was believed to be young and inexperienced when it opened practice for the 2009 season.

After all, the Spartans lost 11 players through graduation and returned only five seniors from last year's squad that went 9-12 and lost its first playoff game 7-2 at Menomonie.

The returning players, including seniors Brent Engstrom, Chris Blake, Lee Nagorski, Dan Tracy and Mike Higgins and junior Kellen McCoshen, received a boost when seniors Joe Reichert and Jake O'Neill decided to play baseball again.

Reichert hasn't played since the eighth grade, and O'Neill last played as a sophomore.

The two haven't missed a beat. Both hit triples when the Spartans opened the season in the Metrodome and Reichert followed that up with a three-run homer during Superior's sweep of Rice Lake on Monday.

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Along with Monday's sweep, Superior has defeated Duluth Central to start off the season with a 3-0 record.

Rounding out Superior's varsity squad are juniors Justin Andrews and Kyle Wilander and sophomores Rob Dembroski, Al Meehan, Taylor Olson and Dylan Ramage.

As far as positions, Blake, Meehan, Nagorski and Reichert are the outfielders; Andrews and Dembroski are the catchers; Higgins and O'Neill, first base; Olson and Wilander, second base; Engstrom and Ramage, shortstop; and Tracy and McCoshen, third base.

"I plan to keep each position open for competition," SHS coach Don Dembroski said. "A players previous status on the team and grade will not determine playing time. I want our players to really compete with each other for playing time."

Defensive positions will also change, depending on pitching situations.

Meehan, Andrews, Dembroski, Higgins, Wilander, Engstrom, Ramage, Tracy, Nagorski and McCoshen are all expected to toe the mound this spring.

"Pitching experience, as well as overall team speed, are our strengths this year," Dembroski said. "Although we don't have a lot of kids with varsity experience, we have a lot of players with pitching experience. This gives us options and the ability to make changes if someone is having a bad day."

Despite the team's youth and inexperience, Dembroski still has his sights set on a Lake Superior Conference title.

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"We expect to compete for the conference title again this year," Dembroski said. "Last year we were one win away. Also, because of our inexperience, we just hope to keep improving as the season progresses and become ready to compete in the playoffs."

Cloquet won last season's LSC championship while Superior's last league title came in 2003.

SPARTAN SPIN: Dembroski has a record of 99-84 in his 10th year as head coach of the Spartans. Lost to graduation were Mike Swanson, Jordan Olson, Dan Manion, Cory Wilander, Kyle Johnson, Matt Archambault, Neil Baltes, Brandan Vaughan, Matt Johnson, Eric Orr and Jake Magdzas. ... Assistant coaches are Ryan Hendry and Don Bee. The JV coaches are Jesse Samarziya, Andy Ross and Kyle Peterson and the student managers are Laura Bishop, Anne Stariha, Savanna Paulson and Megan Malyuk.

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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