ELK MOUND -— After finishing second behind Mondovi in the Large Dunn-St. Croix Conference a year ago and ending their season with a 2-1 loss in extra innings to Stanley-Boyd in the regional game, the Elk Mound baseball team brings back plenty of starters from that team which includes five quality pitchers that could help the team get back to the top of the conference this season.
Returning for coach Paul Andrea are six All Conference players including junior pitcher Brandon Bohl, a First Team pick who was nearly untouchable while on the mound last season. Bohl whiffed 92 batters (including 15 in the loss to S-B) and finished with a 6-3 record with a 1.92 Earned Run Average, while junior Cole Tyman, also a First Team pick, was 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA. Other experienced hurlers are First Team AC selection sophomore Dane Lew, Second Team AC player sophomore Trey Mohr and junior Grant Kjellberg.
Senior Zach Mohr and junior Alex Hollister, both Second Team AC selections a year ago are back along with senior Jon Storing and junior Ryan Conlin, and sophomores Carter Pritchard and Hunter Adleman. Freshman out this year are Blake Rosenthal, Eric Williams, Joshua Flatness, Logan Bergh, Dakota Bedell, Kole Ploeckelman, Dylan Curry, Jonas Kohls, Dylan Black, Brandon Redwine and Ethan Kjellberg.
“We aren’t a deep team but are very talented and versatile with many of the kids able to play multiple positions,” Andrea said. “We have never had so many kids (five) who can throw the ball for strikes on the mound. But the key for us is to become more consistent at the plate and drive in runs that many times last year we left on base. We look to put the ball in play and cut down on strikeouts which really killed a lot of our rallies.”
The Mounders will play a very tough non-conference schedule, starting with a game April 6th against McDonell Central, the defending D4 state runners up from a year ago. They also play Fall Creek, Osseo-Fairchild, Eau Claire Regis, Prescott, Arcadia and Bloomer, all teams who have had successful programs over the years.
“Conference wise, St. Croix Central returns some good talent from last year like we do,” Andrea said. “I know teams will bring their best against us every day. If we stay healthy and get a few breaks it could be a fun year for the Mounders. We will be playing on our new field at the Lions Park which the kids worked very hard on last fall laying sod and doing other work. No more all dirt infield which the kids and community can be very proud of. Visiting teams will be quite surprised when they come to play us this spring,” he added.
Andrea begins his 16th year as the Mounder head coach and will be assisted by Randy Simpson who has been with the team for 10 years while Jon Chisholm, in his fourth year with the team, is the junior varsity coach.