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Laker baseball has high expectations

The Minnewaska baseball team has some lofty expectations this season after returning many of the players who helped the Lakers win three games in the Section 6AA tournament last season.

The Lakers have a group of five seniors who will be expected to lead the way in Jayden Beecher, Austin Ostrander, Andrew Kinney, Laken Steidler-Thompson and Hunter Thompson. Ostrander is a returning two-year starter who will man the outfield for Minnewaska and fill in on the infield when needed. Beecher and Kinney will be competing for vacated outfield spots, while also spending some time on the mound. Laken and Hunter will also be vying for time at the corner infield spots.

“This group will be counted on to step up and lead the team both on and off the field,” head coach Brian Gruber said.

Jon Nygaard and Riley Thompson highlight a group of nine juniors who will be looked upon to make an impact on the varsity level. Both Nygaard and Thompson are two-year starters for the Lakers.

“These two have been the battery for quite a few games in Minnewaska uniforms,” Gruber said. “Riley has proven to be a legitimate left handed starter and is striving to be the anchor of the Laker pitching staff. Jon is a very solid catcher and potent offensive player.”

Luke Nielsen and Matt Paulson also helped out at the varsity level last year and hope to provide depth on this season’s roster.

“Matt and Luke contributed to the varsity team last season and will continue to improve their skills to benefit the team,” Gruber said. “Michael [Maus], Jackson [Hendrickson], Tyler [Sanford] and Will [Anderson] are fine players that will be looking to fill needs at the varsity or JV levels. Kit [Ingersoll] is new to the program, but has been working hard and is continuing to improve.”

Minnewaska also has a group of 24 freshmen and sophomores that the team is excited about for the future.

“There are a few underclassmen that have been very impressive this early part of our season that may look to see some varsity action also this year,” Gruber said. “With our impressive playoff run last season, the expectation has been set for a successful season in 2014.”

It won’t be easy for the Lakers while playing in the West Central Conference North this spring. Gruber called it one of the “better conferences in the entire state of Minnesota for baseball” with Paynesville, Sauk Centre and Melrose and Montevideo all returning plenty of talent.

“Playing this caliber of competition is something our coaches and players look forward to,” Gruber said. “We believe playing a quality opponent will only improve our level of play.”


SENIORS – Jayden Beecher, Austin Ostrander, Andrew Kinney, Laken Steidler-Thompson, and Hunter Thompson

JUNIORS – Michael Maus, Luke Nielsen, Jackson Hendrickson, Tyler Sanford, Will Anderson, Jon Nygaard, Riley Thompson, Matt Paulson, Kit Ingersoll

SOPHOMORES – Craig Spore, Justin Amundson, Alec Ranum, Matthew McIver, Riley Kinney, Spencer Winter, Austin Versteeg, Garrett Kelling, Grant Hitchcock, Ryder Lynk, Michael Gruber

FRESHMEN – Carter Westberg, Tyler Gerard, Nick Irizarry, Damon Hauglie, Blair Anderson, Hunter O’Dell, Jake Heid, Drew Opdahl, Brock Lardy, Shaun Stumpf, Colin Richards, Chris Claussen, Joey Schneider


April 8 at ACGC, 5 p.m.

April 10 vs. Yellow Medicine East, 5 p.m.

April 11 at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, 5 p.m.

April 14 vs. B.O.L.D., 5 p.m.

April 15 at Paynesville, 5 p.m.

April 22 at Montevideo, 5 p.m.

April 24 at Osakis, 4:30 p.m.

April 25 vs. Melrose, 5 p.m.

April 29 at Sauk Centre, 5 p.m.

May 1 vs. Morris, 5 p.m.

May 2 at Albany, 5 p.m.

May 5 at Staples-Motley, 5 p.m.

May 6 at Benson, 5 p.m.

May 8 at Melrose, 5 p.m.

May 12 vs. Wadena-Deer Creek, 5 p.m.

May 13 at Morris, 5 p.m.

May 15 vs. Montevideo, 5 p.m.

May 16, 17 Max Bat Classic at BBE, 4:30 p.m.

May 20 vs. Sauk Centre, 5 p.m.

May 27 Subsection, TBD

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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