Beetles baseball: Leuschke makes most of his debut
Alexandria's Dalton Leuschke has envisioned himself in a Beetles' uniform for as long as he can remember.
The former Cardinal standout grew up around this team - his parents hosted players, and he spent countless nights at Knute Nelson Field following them as a young kid. This past Saturday, he found himself back at his home park taking in the game from the best spot in the house - the batter's box.
"It feels good to be home playing in front of the people I've been playing with," Leuschke said. "I mean, I used to be batboy and host players, so it's nice to be back and actually playing instead of watching...I've always dreamed of it and always wanted to. I came to every game when I was little, and it's been a dream of mine to play for them."
Leuschke put aside any nerves he was feeling in front of the home crowd and went 2-for-4 in his Beetles' debut on Saturday. He got back into town earlier that day after playing in the NJCAA Division II World Series with Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC).
Leuschke was in the second spot in the lineup and playing centerfield on Sunday afternoon. He hit a sharp line drive that was caught in right-center field in his first at-bat against Duluth. Two innings later, he came up with a runner on second and two outs and delivered an RBI double down the left-field line.
"He's hitting the baseball hard," head coach Drew Saberhagen said. "He came up with a big double down the line with a two-out hit. He's excited to be up here, and he's handling it really well. There's a lot of pressure. I played with both [Caleb and Cody] Curry. There's a lot of pressure coming from here and everyone wants him to do well, and he's doing just fine."
Leuschke is one of Alexandria's temporary players who will be asked to help this team through June as players from around the country finish up their college seasons.
"If things go my way, I wouldn't mind playing some more," Leuschke said. "But we'll see what happens. I'll probably just take the summer off and hit on my own, work out a little bit and get ready for next year."
Leuschke will return for his sophomore season at DMACC after the summer as he tries to get a look from a four-year school. He hit .322 for the Bears this past season on a team that went 51-15. He was an All-Region XI honorable-mention selection after accounting for 32 runs and 30 RBIs through May 20.
Leuschke made the move to the outfield in his first season with the Bears after being a three-year starter at shortstop in high school. He's willing to take whatever route gives him the best chance to move on.
"I'm hoping I can advance to a different level - Division I, Division II, Division III," he said. "It doesn't really matter to me, just advance. I want to keep playing baseball."
That willingness to do whatever it takes is what the Beetles are looking for out of their temporary players. It had been just two games, but that's exactly what they have seen out of Leuschke early on this summer.
"I like him a lot," Saberhagen said. "He gives us an option in the outfield. He did play a little middle infield in high school, and he said he's just fine if he doesn't play that just because he wasn't playing that up at DMACC. He's a little rusty there, but it's another right-handed bat. We have a lot of left-handed bats right now with the temp guys, so he gives us another option there."
Eric Morken Eric Morken started as a sports reporter for the Echo Press on July 9, 2007. He is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls where he majored in journalism and minored in history and communications. In his spare time, Morken enjoys hunting and fishing or just being in the outdoors. He is also an avid Minnesota sports fan. Follow Sports Reporter Eric Morken on Twitter at @echo_sports. Read Eric's sports blog, More with Morken at Areavoices.