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Beetles baseball: Saberhagen new coach

File photo, Echo Press Drew Saberhagen (middle) talked with starter Matt Fyffe and some of his teammates during a Beetles game against Duluth this past summer. Saberhagen served as the team's pitching coach in 2011.

The Alexandria Beetles will hand over the reins of their organization to a familiar face for the 2012 summer season.

Drew Saberhagen was recently named the head coach for the Beetles after spending four seasons with the organization as a player and two as an assistant coach. He was a part of the Beetles' coaching staff that helped Alexandria set a franchise record 44 wins this past summer. Saberhagen has become both a fan favorite and a respected coach in his six years with the Beetles.

"It's how well liked he is," owner Shawn Reilly said. "It's not only from the players last year and the coaching staff and ourselves, but the community as well. He played here for four years, this is his third year of coaching, it's like full circle for him. That just makes me really happy."

Saberhagen pitched for the Beetles from 2005-2008. Going into last summer, he was first in wins (12), second in games started (25) and fifth in strikeouts (92) in the organization's history.

Saberhagen took that experience as a player and carried it over to the coaching ranks this past summer as the Beetles' pitching coach. The pitching staff was a big reason for Alexandria's success in the second half of the season as he helped players like Anthony Bazzani put together solid summers.

Reilly spoke at length with former head coaches Matt Hancock and Erik Maas to see if they thought Saberhagen was ready to take on the position.

"Matt told me that he put Drew into many situations where he led the team last year," Reilly said. "He put him in leadership positions and as a result, Matt thought he was certainly capable...two years ago I don't think he would have been ready. He's matured in his personality and in his coaching."

Saberhagen spent time as a coach at the University of Tennessee before moving to become an assistant coach at Newberry College in South Carolina. Reilly likes that baseball experience and feels he has everything else he looks for in a head coach.

"I need an excellent communicator," Reilly said. "Someone who can communicate the good and the bad, just letting me know what's going on with the team with injuries and other issues. You have to be able to interact with everybody - players, fans, host families, sponsors. I would also say trust, you got to be able to trust the guy."

Saberhagen is already putting together a roster that includes many of the same players from last season. Regular contributors like Will Fulmer, Bazzani, Michael Reed, John Reed, Kevin Grove, Tanner Vavra, Shawn Reisgraf, Alex Guilford and Scott Sanderson have tentatively agreed to come back for a second summer.

The roster is always subject to change leading up to the season, but getting those kind of players to return after the best season in franchise history is a good start to the process.

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress Sports Reporter Eric Morken on Twitter at @echo_sports.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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