COLFAX — If the Colfax baseball team ever gets on the diamond this season with the late spring, head coach Tim Wilson hopes a core of players with experience on the mound will help them improve on their 8-8 record from last year. Their 7-6 conference record put them above .500 for the first time in many years and although they lost three starters through graduation including leading hitter and starting shortstop Dalton Knutson along with All Conference pick Josh Shipman and Bryce Flug, eight letterwinners return this year.
Senior Michael Hover leads the pitching brigade, coming off a 4-3 record with a 1.94 earned run average, while junior Ethin Kiekhafer (3-2, 3.38 ERA) and sophomore Sawyer DeMoe (1-3, 6.05) are expected to put in plenty of time on the mound.
Hover patrols the outfield when he isn’t pitching and ended last year with a .308 batting average, and Kiekhafer spent time at first base, finishing the season with a .257 batting average. Other seniors with varsity playing time are outfielder Austin Lee and infielder Jeremiah Harder while Cody Peterson moves up from the junior varsity ranks.
Nolan Prince is the only other junior besides Kiekhafer on the team but plenty of sophomores with experience should help matters. Jeremiah Wait, Logan Mittelstadt and Nate Leibfried all cracked the starting lineup as freshmen and Brett Johnson, Jacob Klukas, Brandon Anderson, Trevor Olson and Andrew Adix along with DeMoe should all be able to contribute along the way.
A talented group of freshmen including Jarrod Rudi, Zach Meyer, Brady Simonson, Jacob Steinke, Mason Harmon, Grady Gibson and Andrew Harmon fill out the team.
Wilson begins his 21st season leading the Vikings and knows he will need some players to step up if they want to be competitive in conference play, and after losing in the first first round of regionals last year to Eau Claire Regis, advance in tournament play.
“Defense will be a key issue for us,” he said. “We need players to fill the infield positions. We also have to cut down on team strikeouts and put the ball in play which means we may have to play more small ball. We have good team speed which should help in the field and on the basepaths. But having a mix of younger and older players with varsity experience is a positive as we go into the season” he added.
Wilson expects Elk Mound, Mondovi and St. Croix Central to finish at the top of the conference. Garrett Maas will again assist Wilson with the team.