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Vikings say goodbye to six senior ball players

Colfax baseball coach Tim Wilson may have to start recruiting ball players in the high school hallways next year after losing six players –all starters—through the graduation route this year. Four of them, Nate Leibfried, Sawyer DeMoe, Logan Mittestadt and Jeremiah Wait have been in the starting lineup for Wilson in one position or another for four years while Trevor Olson was a two year letterwinner and Brett Johnson cracked the starting lineup as a senior.

The Vikings compiled a 31-36 record over the past four seasons and won one regional game against Boyceville before losing to Chetek-Weyerhaeuser 7-4 in the second round during their junior year. This group of seniors ended their careers by losing to that same C-W team by one run in a game played in a steady rain in the regional semi-final a few weeks ago.

Leibfried was chosen as the Most Valuable Player for the team this season after leading the team in runs scored with 20 and finishing second in hits with 22. He was a four time All Conference player starting as honorable mention as a freshman, first team his sophomore and junior years and second team as a senior. Leibried played a few games at catcher his freshman year, then began patrolling centerfield later on and stayed there for the next two seasons. There wasn’t much that got past him out there as he shagged down plenty of deep fly balls and snared line drives off his shoe tops to help his pitchers out, but after the Vikings’ starting catcher had knee surgery partway through the year, Leibfried transitioned back to the catcher spot as a senior. He played in all 67 games for Wilson the last four seasons, collecting 67 hits with 16 doubles and 27 RBIs. As the leadoff batter for several seasons, Leibfried scored 70 runs and led the team in that department in three of his four years, and was first in stolen bases his sophomore year with eight and his junior year with 10 with a career total of 36. His batting average over four seasons was .322 with his highest at .444 his sophomore year. Leibried dabbled on the pitching mound as a freshman and a junior and was called upon this year to help out again, and he was the winning pitcher in the game against Shell Lake this year. In just under 10 innings, he allowed 12 hits, four runs, 10 walks and seven strikeouts.

DeMoe was one of those unique athletes who lettered in three sports all four years as a Viking and was called upon to fill a spot on the baseball team his freshman year, both on the pitcher’s mound and in the infield. In 66 games, he scored 42 times, collected 51 hits with 12 doubles and seven round trippers with 48 RBIs. He led the Vikings in doubles his junior year with six, in taters with three and in slugging percentage at .569. He also tied for first in home runs as a senior with two and was second in RBIs with 20. On the other side of the plate, he compiled a 7-12 pitching record and was 4-4 this year with a pair of saves. In 137 and a third innings, he struck out 132 batters, walked 121 and gave up 130 runs on 118 hits. His overall earned run average was 5.04 with his lowest this year at 4.15 when he pitched 52 and a third innings, allowing 33 hits and 41 runs with 62 Ks and 43 free passes. If he wasn’t on the mound, he could be found at third base most of the time but also filled in at shortstop. He was named to the All Conference team three times, Second team as a sophomore, First team his junior year and honorable mention this season.

Mittelstadt was another seasoned veteran for Wilson when he started his senior year, having three years of varsity experience under his belt. Playing in 60 games, he smacked 33 hits, scored 44 times and brought in 24 runners. In his sophomore year, Mittelstadt led the Vikings in hits with 18 and also won the team batting title with his .474 average. He was a workhorse on the mound his senior year, leading the team in innings pitched with 56 and a third innings and was known to be the hard luck pitcher for the team. With his 2-6 record, several of the losses were a result of lack of run support by his teammates or costly errors. He had an overall 7-10 record, throwing 102 and a third innings, allowing 109 hits with 78 runs while fanning 83 batters and walking 53. He was a First Team All Conference pick for his superb sophomore season.

Jeremiah Wait was another player who saw action in all four years of his high school days and more than likely would have been higher in the stat department had he not split his time between the ball diamond and the track his junior and senior years. Coming off the ACL surgery he had early in the fall of his freshman year, Wait was chomping at the bit to get his high school sports career started. Starting in 16 games his first year, he scored five runs, banged six hits including two doubles and a triple and brought in eight runs. His totals in 43 games are 33 hits with five doubles, 41 runs scored and 19 RBIs, He was first on the team his senior year in drawing walks with 12 and also led the team in stolen bases with 12. His highest batting average came as a junior at .304 and his overall average was .226. Wait was a mainstay in the infield playing shortstop his first three years and mostly played second base his senior year.

Olson was a first baseman for the team for two seasons, playing in 24 games including 16 this year. He scored nine runs in his career with 14 hits and 16 RBIs and had his most productive season as a senior. Of his 14 hits, five were for extra bases including three doubles and a pair of round trippers to tie DeMoe for the team lead. His 14 RBIs were third for the Vikings and he had a slugging percentage of .400 and a batting average of .255.

Johnson saw a little playing time as a junior but earned his way into the starting lineup partway through his senior year. Playing in 16 games at third base or right field, Johnson scored seven runs for the team after drawing nine walks and collecting a trio of hits.

Wilson, who is approaching his 200th career win as a head coach (according to records from Plum City and Colfax), knows these players may not have won any conference or regional titles but they were a big part of making the Vikings a respectable team over the years.

“They were a great group of kids to work with and were willing to play anywhere I asked,” he said. “They will leave a lot of holes to fill and I hope some of them continue to use their baseball skills and find a summer team to play for after graduation.”