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Seniorless Hilltoppers look to improve on baseball diamond

GLENWOOD CITY  —  Without a senior on its roster, the 2015 Glenwood City baseball team will have to turn to its five juniors for leadership if they hope to climb up this year’s Small Dunn-St. Croix standings.

The Hilltoppers have five returning letterwinners including juniors Mitch Hurtgen, Nick Schone, Joel Ormson, Damian Hoitomt and sophomore Jake Logghe from a squad that finished 2-9 in conference action and 4-13 overall.

That core group should provide some experience and leadership while third-year head coach Jake Score works to integrate nine sophomores and six freshman into the lineup.

Glenwood City will need those underclassmen to be quick studies as graduation took much of the Toppers’ infield players and offensive fire power from a year ago.

Score and his staff will need to find replacements for Jake Carlson, team leader, second baseman and batting average leader;   Brennan Kessler, a great team person noted Score who could also produce needed runs; Blayze Wood, the catcher and solid offensive producer; Jeff Kopacz, the team’s athletic shortstop and number three hitter; and  first-baseman Ray Aarons.

Glenwood City does return a solid stable of pitchers. Joel Ormson, Mitch Hurtgen and Nick Schone will be rotating on the mound.

Damian Hoitomt should be a solid infielder for the Hilltoppers this spring according to the coach as will Jake Logghe behind the plate.

Hurtgen, Logghe and Schone should also give Glenwood City’s offense some pop.

Freshman Peter Hill and Jake Kopacz have showed good potential noted Score.

Completing the 20-member team are: junior Kenny Vang; sophomores Zach Abt, Nic Jensen, Tanner Lanning, Joe Obermueller, Spencer Peterson, Will Rosenow, Jeff Schone and Jake Wittmer; freshmen Marcus Hurtgen, Brad Kessler, Jake Nadeau and Spencer Oehlke.

“Our depth at pitcher will be a strength,” stated Coach Score. “We also have a healthy competition at every spot plus we are very smart and athletic.”

But the coach warned that the team’s youth may show especially in the early part of the season.

“Our youth will show towards the start of the season,” stated Score. “But our guys are smart and athletic so we hope to build quickly (on that).”

“Our goals are to be competitive in every game, improve at all positions and peak at the right time and make some noise in the playoffs,” Score added.

If the Hilltoppers can do that they may be able to also make an upward move in the conference standings after finishing last in the five-team small division.

Score feels that defending conference champion Spring Valley along with 2014 runner-up and third-place finisher Pepin/Alma and Elmwood respectively will once again be the top contenders for the title.

The Toppers will be tested early as they start the season with three straight road games. They opened the season in Clear Lake on Tuesday, April 7 and will be playing at Boyceville tomorrow (Thursday, April 9) and in Spring Valley on Monday, April 13.

GC Baseball Roster

Juniors: Damian Hoitomt, Mitch Hurtgen, Joel Ormson, Nick Schone, Kenny Vang.

Sophomores: Zack Abt, Nic Jensen, Tanner Lanning, Jake Logghe, Joe Obermueller, Spencer Peterson, Will Rosenow, Jeff Schone, Jake Wittmer.

Freshmen: Peter Hill, Marcus Hurtgen, Brad Kessler, Jake Kopacz, Jake Nadeau, Spencer Oehlke.