New season, new challenges
The Osakis baseball team will have a difficult path this season if it wants to make another appearance in the state tournament.
A season after finishing second in the state among Class A teams, Osakis is preparing to play in an entirely new section against larger schools.
A slight change in enrollment and class sizes means the Silverstreaks are moving up to Class AA. With the jump, the Silverstreaks will compete in the section tournament against some schools with more than twice the enrollment numbers and more depth.
“It’s always tougher going against a school that has twice the enrollment that you do,” senior Lane Berberich said.
Osakis will now play in Section 6AA. One of the early favorites is Rocori High School, a team moving down to Class AA after finishing second in the state among AAA schools in 2013. This year Rocori has an enrollment of 684 versus 243 for Osakis.
“Teams we are playing, everybody is bigger than us, number wise,” head coach Shad Schmidt said. “I think it’s going to be tougher, obviously, but we’re looking forward to the challenge. We’re not going to back away from it.”
Osakis also will need to find replacements for the six seniors it lost from last season. The pitching staff took the biggest hit as Ky Zimmel and Doug Zimmel were both quality starters for the Silverstreaks.
“I think other guys are stepping up and filling in positions,” senior pitcher Jordan Frederick said. “We might not be as deep starting pitcher wise, but we have guys that can come in and throw a few innings here and a few innings there.”
The Silverstreaks feel they have other options to replenish the starting pitching. Frederick returns as the top starter and Berberich will pitch as a number two. Michael Herringshaw and Drew Fearing will also take the mound as starters.
“I think Jordan is going to be very good this year, and we have Lane, Mike, and I can throw a little, too,” Fearing said. “I think we have a lot of options that other teams don’t.”
The Silverstreaks view themselves as one of four teams who should finish near the top of the Prairie Conference. Last year Osakis won the championship and finished the season 20-3.
Schmidt expects the Silverstreaks to be solid up the middle, with Berberich playing second base, Fearing at shortstop and Hunter Scherr in center field. The team is looking for players to step into starting roles at the corner infield positions, especially at first base after the departure of Grayson Fortenberry.
The team hopes junior Cody DeWenter will take over a starting role at third base, and they also hope Herringshaw, a sophomore who can play all over the field, will pick up some slack.
Schmidt is appreciative of his four senior captains in Berberich, Fearing, Frederick and Scherr.
The group is experienced, and three of those four captains plan to continue playing baseball after graduating this spring. Fearing signed a partial scholarship to play at North Dakota State University, Berberich will play at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls and Frederick plans to attend Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. The captains have shown a willingness to work with the team’s younger players.
“Those seniors are a great group of kids,” Schmidt said. “They are the hardest working guys on the team.”