Teams Need Pitching Depth for Condensed Baseball Season
As the avalanche of high school sports postponements begins due to the continuation of winter weather, baseball coaches might be nibbling their fingernails while trying to do the math necessary to not break the pitching rules. Owatonna's season opener Thursday at Red Wing is postponed. Baseball, softball, tennis and track and field events have been postponed or canceled this week.
If the Huskies open their season Tuesday, April 10 vs Winona at Dartt's Park, they would have 38 days to complete their 20-game schedule. And the forecast is not looking too good for April 10. On Saturday's KRFO coaches show, OHS skipper Tate Cummins said the Huskies have about nine senior and junior arms to use this spring.
Seniors include Abe Havelka and Brady Schuster, who each threw quite a few innings last spring. Noah Budach pitched well for the Legion team last summer. Nolan Malo and Tucker Alstead can both go to the mound as well. Among the juniors, Cummins looks to Jon Klecker, Ben Zappa, Matt Segler and Tyler Sackett to be contributors.
Teams need to follow the state high school league guidelines for pitchers, which includes a strict pitch count policy. Teams had the opportunity to bring in pitchers a week before regular practice to work on conditioning.
The Huskies return many of their position players from 2017. Alstead is back at catcher. Budach returns at shortstop. Havelka and Malo can man the corner spots in the infield. Dawson Leer plays second base. Parker Westphal returns as an outfielder. The Huskies lose All-Big Nine player Kodey Kiel from last season, who led the team in pitching and hitting.
Owatonna was 9-13 overall in 2017 and 4-7 in the Big Nine. The Huskies lost to Rochester Mayo and Lakeville South in back-to-back outings in the playoffs. Red Wing and Rochester Century shared the conference title. The Wingers won the Section 1AAA title. Lakeville North repeated as the 1AAAA champ. Check the KRFO sping sports broadcast schedule for baseball, softball and lacrosse games that will be on the air, weather permitting.
OHS softball Thursday against Red Wing is postponed, as is the coed track relay on Thursday and Tuesday's boys' tennis match against Winona. Many Blooming Prairie, NRHEG, Medford and Triton events are also postponed this week. BP softball might get their season opener on Friday, April 6 at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton where they have an artificial surface. The first Big Nine softball game was played last week when Austin hosted Rochester Century at their domed facility.