The Parker Prairie baseball team has proven in years past that they can’t be counted out when the postseason rolls around.
This year, they look to continue its late-season success with a core group of returning letter winners if games do resume in May after the spring seasons have been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a 9-10 regular season last spring, the Panthers were one game shy of a return trip to the Section 6A championship game after a 2-0 loss to New York Mills. Parkers Prairie finished with a 13-12 record and only graduated three seniors.
“We think we have two of the better pitchers in the area in Alex Koep and Josh Helling,” head coach Derek Denny said. “We will lean on those guys and look to play solid defense behind them. We have plenty of other arms, and are excited to see who else will contribute on the mound.”
Despite a healthy crop of pitchers, the Panthers are hoping to see more success at the plate. Parkers Prairie scored 3.6 runs-per game last spring, which was fourth lowest in Section 6A.
“We struggled last season to put the ball in play,” Denny said. “We need our strikeouts to go down and our on-base percentage to go up.”
New York Mills ended Parkers Prairie’s season last year and will be another threat to win the Park Region Conference and the section. The Eagles, 21-5 last year, start the season as a top-10 team in the coaches poll with Sebeka, who is also in the Park Region Conference. Wadena-Deer Creek will also look to bring home a conference championship after winning the league in 2019.
Denny hopes the Panthers will be competitive in the section tournament once again. Not only will New York Mills try to repeat as champions, but also Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunberg will shake up the field as a new competitor.
“Section 6 is shaping up to be a legitimate baseball section,” Denny said. “We feel again we will be very competitive in the section tourney.”
(Editor’s note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota State High School League spring activities season is postponed through at least May 4. Any updates to the spring season will be printed in future issues of the Echo Press.)
2020 PARKERS PRAIRIE RETURNING LETTER WINNERS
Josh Helling, Brendan Johnson, Lucas Kies, Alex Koep, Florian Koep, Jesse LaManna, Jack Marquardt, Wyatt Murray, Brock Peterson, Lance Smith, Preston Yohnke
COACHES - Head coach - Derek Denny - 12th season, 132-116; Assistant coach - Paul Walsh