By Kelsie Hoitomt
GLENWOOD CITY – Experience looks to be on the Glenwood City baseball team’s side as they step into the 2014 season with a solid group of eight seniors who will lead the team on the diamond.
Six of the eight seniors on the team are also returning letter winners from last season including Jake Carlson, Jeff Kopacz, Brennan Kessler, Blayze Wood, Ray Arons and Richard Croes.
“Carlson has great leadership. He is a strong defensive player that is bigger and stronger than before and he looks to move up in the lineup,” said head coach Jake Score as he began to explain his team.
“Kopacz is a tremendous athlete that has only improved his focus and really wants to win. He will most likely be a key in both the lineup and on the field.”
“Kessler is a skilled leader and he will do anything for the team and his offense just got better and better last year.”
“Croes was a tremendous offensive output last year and a great team guy. He is definitely a silent leader.”
“As for Blayze, he is a very skilled catcher and his bat improved greatly throughout the year.”
Wood filled in as catcher last year behind Adam Holmquist, who has since graduated so his time behind the plate will increase in his senior year.
Also gone to graduation are the team’s top two pitchers, Kyle Peterson and Mitch Junker. Both athletes covered the majority of innings and that may come as a weakness to the team in the early start of the season as new arms will hit the pitching mound.
Sophomores Mitch Hurtgen and Nick Schone also return to the team this year as previous letter winners.
Coach Score praised Schone for being a great infield defender. He then commented on Hurtgen’s good range and excellent arm in the outfield as well as his batting abilities due to him being one of the top hitters as a freshman.
Returning to the team as seniors with years of baseball under their shoes are Zack Wink and Damian Multhauf.
“Wink could step up and be a great pitcher for us,” said Score. “He also has a great bat and we hope to have him in the lineup a lot this year.”
The team had one sophomore on the roster last season and now this year there are no juniors, but a solid sophomore and freshmen class will fill in any gaps.
Back to play as sophomores along side Hurtgen and Schone are Hogan Chouinard, Jack Kremer, Joel Ormson and then Damian Hoitomt has been added to the team as well.
Rounding out the team are ten freshmen; Zack Abt, Nic Jensen, Tanner Lanning, Jake Logghe, Joe Obermueller, Spencer Peterson, Will Rosenow, Jeff Schone, Marcus Ullom and Jake Wittmer.
The amount of experience and leadership on the team this season has each of their eyes set on a conference championship after finishing 3-5 in the Dunn-St. Croix and 4-6 overall after tournament time ended.
“Statistically, we hope to improve in each category,” said Score. “Non-statistically, we hope to compete for the conference championship. There will be some very good teams, but we hope to be in the running.”
Score shared that he believes Spring Valley and Pepin/Alma will be their top competitors this season as both teams were strong last year and they return key pieces to their lineup this time around as well.
As for Coach Score, this is his second year as head coach for the Hilltopper team. He is assisted again this year by Tom Stack and will also have Brandon Kieper and Casey Kaiser as volunteer coaches.
The Hilltoppers were scheduled to play this Tuesday (April 1) at home against Clear Lake, weather permitting. They are then set to play their first conference game on Thursday, April 10 in Colfax starting at 5:00 p.m.
Seniors: Ray Arons, Jake Carlson, Richard Croes, Brennan Kessler, Jeff Kopacz, Damian Multhauf, Zack Wink, Blayze Wood
Sophomores: Hogan Chouinard, Damian Hoitomt, Mitch Hurtgen, Jack Kremer, Joel Ormson, Nick Schone
Freshmen: Zack Abt, Nic Jensen, Tanner Lanning, Jake Logghe, Joe Obermueller, Spencer Peterson, Will Rosenow, Jeff Schone, Marcus Ullom, Jake Wittmer