Steve Undseth will have some big holes to fill in the Hillcrest baseball lineup this spring. Gone are Zach Nersten, a four year starter and three time all-conference player, 3-year starter Mark Undseth who was all-conference twice, Nick Castro, an honorable mention all-conference player and two-year starter Erik Vestol. In addition, junior Daniel Nersten has opted not to play baseball so he can concentrate on AAU basketball.
Senior pitcher and first baseman Skyler Ruf (.261, 11 RBI, 2-1, 20IP, 18K) returns along with senior outfielders Theo Taylor (.304) and Nick Demarest (.304) and senior Chad Hermes (C, DH). Senior Chris Bigelow (OF) also returns after seeing limited action last year, along with junior Vinnie Veum (IN, OF) and junior Connor Aasness (C, IF). Aasness is recovering from a concussion suffered during the basketball season.
The Comets will be looking for big contributions from sophomore catcher Evan Malmstrom, Jared Christenson (1B, 3B) and the shortstop/second base combo of juniors Quincy Undseth and Connor Aasness, while junior Evan Newman will be counted on at pitcher, first base and in the outfield.
"Skyler Ruf will hold a key to our hopes as he is the only returning varsity pitcher and will be counted on to carry a heavy load. He should also hit a ton," commented Coach Undseth. "We haven't been outside yet, but I like the looks of our infield defensively and can see us turning some double plays this year. We have excellent team speed and should wreak havoc on the base paths if we can find a way to get on. Hitting might be a problem for us unless we see marked improvement over last year, and other than Skyler, we have no experience pitching. We will find out fairly quickly if anyone else can throw because the late starting spring will no doubt require some doubleheaders or back-to-back games. We will probably be experimenting all season until we find out who can throw strikes in game situations. Last year's team underachieved in a big way, this year's squad will need to overachieve. I look forward to watching them develop confidence in each other as the season progresses."
Undseth will be assisted by Gregg Preston. He sees Wheaton and Ortonville as favorites in the Pheasant Conference, withNew York Mills a very strong favorite to win the Section 6A title.