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Baseball: Young Lakers team aim to make an impact in 2023

The Lakers were one of the best teams in the West Central Conference last season, and this season they feature a lot of underclassmen.

Jack Majerus
Minnewaska head coach Joe Alexander congratulates then-sophomore Jack Majerus as Majerus smiles at his dugout after sliding into third base in front of the tag of Knights' third baseman Ty Fuoss on April 21, 2022. Majerus is now a junior on an overall young team in the 2023 season.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

GLENWOOD - The Minnewaska Lakers were one of the best West Central Conference baseball teams last season, as they went 10-4 in conference play (13-9 overall) and tied-for-second for with Sauk Centre

This season, they are aiming for more success with a young core.

"We have a young team that will get better as the season progresses," Head coach Joe Alexander said. "They have all played a lot of baseball in their career and played key roles in our success last season. We are very solid at the top of our rotation and lineup, with a very solid defense. If we can get a few varsity returners or first-time underclassmen to step up and fill a couple of spots in the rotation and in our lineup, we'll look for a very solid campaign in the very solid West Central Conference and in Section 3AA.โ€

Morris Area-Chokio-Alberta won the WCC last year, and Alexander expects them to be one of the contenders in the conference again, along with Melrose, Sauk Centre, and Montevideo.

Fairmont won the Section 3AA Tournament last season, and Alexander expects the defending section champs to be among the top teams in the section, along with MACA, New London-Spicer, Luverne, and Paynesville Area.

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Minnewaska was eliminated in the section quarterfinals last season by Paynesville Area.

Alexander expects the team to be strong on the base paths on the defense.

P.J. Johnson
Minnewaska's PJ Johnson hits a pitch against West Central Area on April 21, 2022. Johnson doubled in the Lakers' lone run in a 12-1 loss against 14-5 Redwood Valley on May 23, 2022. Johnson is the lone senior on the 2023 Minnewaska team.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

"We will be a very solid team in all areas, but the two glaring strengths we have are our defense and our overall team speed," Alexander said. "We will look to utilize both to our advantage every time we take the field. It's not that we need to improve as much as it is we need to gain experience in hitting at the varsity level. Our kids are working very hard to improve our offensive attack."

While the team is young, they do have experience returning with senior PJ Johnson, juniors Dylan Alexander, Jack Majerus, Nathan Dell, Ryland Martin, Thomas Poegel, Austin Weber, Alex Panitzke, Austin Ballhagen, along with sophomores Levi Johnson and Noah Jensen.

"This group is unique in the sense that they are all in it for each other, and push to hold themselves and their teammates accountable," Coach Alexander said. "It will be exciting to see how this grows over the season."

MINNEWASKA BASEBALL -

HEAD COACH - Joe Alexander, 2nd season, 13-9 career record

ASSISTANT COACHES - Chris Lence, Jesse Johnson, Andy Goracke

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ROSTER - SENIORS - PJ Johnson; JUNIORS - Dylan Alexander, Jack Majerus, Nathan Dell, Alex Panitzke, Thomas Poegel, Ryland Martin, Austin Weber, Austin Ballhagen, Gavin Cain; SOPHOMORES - Connor Frey, Jackson Holmes, Caden Larson, Oliver Rieland, Noah Jensen, Levi Johnson; FRESHMEN - AJ Svec, Jackson Marquardt, Tyson Metz, Oliver Vanderhagen, Conner Erickson, Ethan Jacobs, Tate Anderson, Ben Johnson, Riley Dell, Luke Danielson, Braylen Scharmer, Marc Gruber, Jacob Reuss

2023 SCHEDULE (subject to change) -

April 4 at Melrose (DH), 4 p.m.
April 6 vs. Redwood Valley, 4:30 p.m.
April 11 vs. BOLD, 4:30 p.m
April 14 at Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, 4:30 p.m.
April 18 at Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta, 5 p.m.
April 21 at BOLD, 5 p.m.
April 25 vs. Sauk Centre (DH), 4 p.m.
April 28 vs. New London-Spicer, 4:30 p.m.
May 2 at Montevideo (DH), 4 p.m.
May 4 vs. Osakis, 4:30 p.m.
May 9 at West Central Area (DH), 4 p.m.
May 12 at Fergus Falls, 5 p.m.
May 16 vs Benson (DH), 4 p.m.
May 19 at Paynesville Area, 4:30 p.m.
May 23 vs Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta, 5 p.m.
May 27 Sub-section playoff game
May 30-June 8 Section 3AA Tournament
June 13-14, 16, State Tournament

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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