COLFAX — Between 17-20 players reported to spring training practice March 24 for the Colfax baseball team including five returning letter winners. Three of those experienced players form a pitching staff that won four of the seven games the team won last year as they compiled a 7-6 record in the short season. The team loses Michael Hover, one of the leading pitchers and hitters along with steady infielder Jeremiah Harder and big hitter Austin Lee via the graduation route.
Senior Ethin Kiekhafer, a First Team All Conference pick last year, and juniors Sawyer DeMoe (Second Team AC) and Logan Mittelstadt (First Team AC)will all see plenty of time on the mound again this year (weather permitting) and will play in the field when they aren’t pitching. Kiekhafer was 2-2 with a 4.94 earned run average and batted .395 last year while DeMoe went 1-2 on the mound with a 4.75 ERA while hitting at a .263 clip. Mittelstadt was also 1-2 as a pitcher with a .233 ERA and a .475 batting average.
Other letter winners include juniors Jeremiah Wait, a middle infielder and Nate Leibfried (First Team AC) who can pitch, play catcher and outfield, along with sophomore Jared Rudi who has some pitching ability and can play catcher and infield.
Nolan Prince is the only other senior besides Kiekhafer on the team and could play first base as well as being a designated hitter. Other players competing for a varsity position include juniors Brett Johnson, Jacob Klukas, Brandon Anderson and Trevor Olson along with sophomores Zach Meyer, Brady Simonson, Jacob Steinke, Mason Harmon, Ben Christianson, Andrew Harmon, Brett Prince and Joey Verdon.
Coach Tim Wilson enters his 22nd season leading the team and believes this year’s team boasts plenty of speed which should improve the offense by playing some small ball. Along with experienced pitchers and some new prospects, the team should also be pretty solid on the mound. Defense will be the biggest problem for the team.
“We will need to be more consistent on defense this year if we want to win games,” he said. “I’m thinking what every coach in Wisconsin is thinking. We need better weather if we want to get games in!”
Wilson, assisted by Garrett Maas for the fifth straight season, believes Mondovi, Elk Mound and St. Croix Central all have talented players this year and should be contenders for a conference title. The Vikings are scheduled to start the season at Durand April 4 but things are not looking very good outside for that to happen.