By Cara L. Dempski
BOYCEVILLE — The Bulldogs have every right to be proud of their 2016 season.
The Boyceville sluggers went 7-6 in the Dunn-St. Croix and were 10-9 overall. They played all the way to the Division 3 regional championship game before falling to Eau Claire Regis’ hard-swinging Ramblers.
If making a tournament run was not enough, the Bulldogs saw three players named to D-SC all-conference teams. Hunter Anderson and James Palmer both received first-team honors, and Micadin Kahl earned a spot on the second team.
Of the trio, Anderson is the only 2016 graduate. He was the Bulldogs’ starting shortstop and provided relief for James Palmer on the mound. Anderson batted in 15 runs, had an era of 3.23, and earned a .897 fielding percentage.
“He is an athlete that is hard to replace,” Bulldog head coach Mike Roemhild said. “He understood the game, led the team in hitting, was fast on the base paths, and had a strong arm.”
Despite the loss of Anderson, Roemhild will see some familiar faces back on the diamond in 2017. Letter winner James Palmer, who pitched for a 1.35 ERA over 12 games in 2016, returns for his final high school season. The Boyceville coach thinks Micadin Kahl, who returns as a senior letterman, will again be one of the best catchers in the conference.
Another varsity letter winner, Luke Knudtson, recorded nine RBIs last year, but Roemhild indicated the junior was coming into his own as a hitter at the end of 2016. He expects Knudtson to pick up where he left off. Juniors Bryce Boda, Kyle Holden and Cooper Boesl, and sophomore Jaden Reismer return as letter winners who hope to contribute.
The Bulldogs will be joined this season by a group of freshman that caught the head coach’s attention before even completing a full week of practice.
“I think they will be challenging some of the older guys for spots, which is good,” Roemhild noted.
The Boyceville coach stated there are some newcomers who are hoping to earn varsity spots this year. He encourages competition among the players, believing it helps his team take a step toward becoming more competitive.
Most of Roemhild’s junior and senior players are not new to playing varsity games, since many of them have been playing on the team since they were freshmen or sophomores. That can account for a lot, but the head coach is worried about how his team will handle the competition within the team.
“Our weakness will be how to deal with adversity,” Roemhild explained. “I have some athletic freshmen and sophomores that want varsity spots, and this will be the team’s first time dealing with competition within.”
Roemhild is also hoping for a pitching crew of six to seven players, especially considering the new pitch count rules put into effect this year. He would like a defense that is going to make plays behind the pitcher.
According to Bulldog head coach, the team will need to cut down on errors. He would also like to see the players run the base paths better and improve hitting. The team goal is to take things one game at a time and not be a pushover for anyone.
The entire Boyceville team sees Elk Mound and Durand as the Dunn-St. Croix’s top teams this season.
“They have a lot of skilled players, they know how to win, and both teams are very well coached,” the Bulldog coach said.
Mike Roemhild is in his third season coaching the Bulldog baseball team, and has a 17-24 overall record. He will be assisted this season by Blaine Leslie.
The Bulldogs will open their season with a March 31 home game against Clear Lake before hosting Cumberland on April 4. The team will travel to Clayton April 7 before opening its conference season at home against Colfax April 10.
Seniors: James Palmer and Micadin Kahl.
Juniors: Luke Knudtson, Bryce Boda, Cooper Boesl, Kyle Holden and Jayson Gonzales.
Sophomores: Jaden Reisimer, Brady Nye and Erick Loback.
Freshmen: Brendan Sempf, Logan Knudtson, Colton Watson and Cade Klefstad.