By Cara L. Dempski
COLFAX — Kirk Secraw’s first season as head coach of the Colfax baseball team may not have gone as well as planned.
The Vikings’ ended their season with an 8-2 loss to Eau Claire Regis’ Ramblers in the first round of Division 3 regional play last May. The team was hoping for a spark to reignite it in its “second season,” but the loss effectively blew out the fire as they finished the season at 3-13.
Secraw and his returning team are hoping for a better end to the year in 2017, despite losing six senior starters from the 2016 squad. Jarrod Rudi, Zach Meyer, Andrew Harmon, Brady Simonson, Tyler Dawson and Ben Christianson all left the team due to graduation.
The Colfax coach called Rudi, who was not only the Vikings’ leading hitter and team MVP, but landed a spot on the Dunn-St. Croix second team, a great pitcher and hitter. Simonson, who was awarded DSC honorable mention in 2016, was another big bat who provided strong team leadership.
Secraw is not yet worried, as he has three letter winners returning to the varsity team that he feels will be big assets: Mitch Kiekhafer, Nate Polden and Brett Schindler.
“Mitch plays multiple positions, makes good contact when he’s hitting, and is a leader, Nate is a good pitcher, and I’m expecting a big year from him on the mound. Brett is a good pitcher, excellent hitter, and a team leader,” Secraw explained.
Kiekhafer picked up 15 RBIs in 16 games last year, while Polden earned 13 in 42 at-bats and Schindler picked up 17.
The Vikings may have some help from freshmen Chris Scharlau and Mitch Harmon, junior Taylor Sarauer, and seniors Kamdon Quast and Tyler Snider.
As for the team’s strengths and weaknesses?
“I think our biggest strength will be hitting,” Secraw stated. “We are weak at pitching and fielding, and need to cut down on errors.”
That could be difficult with a young team that boasts 16 freshmen on its 23-person roster.
Secraw said one of the team’s main goals is to throw more strikes, especially with the WIAA enforcing some new pitch count rules this season.
A high school pitcher can now throw only 100 pitches in a game before being replaced. Furthermore, a hurler throwing between one and 30 pitches is required to take one day of rest, those throwing 31-49 pitches need to take two, anyone dishing out between 50 and 75 pitches has to rest for three days, and a pitcher tossing between 76 and 100 has to take a four-day break.
In addition to the pitching goal, Secraw would like to see fewer defensive errors, and better on-field communication.
He believes Elk Mound and Durand will again be tough teams in 2107.
Kirk Secraw is coaching his second season with the Vikings, and has an overall record of 3-13.
The Vikings will open their season at Boyceville April 10 before heading to Spring Valley April 13. They will play their home opener April 18 against Mondovi.
Seniors: Tyler Snider and Kamdon Quast.
Juniors: Jackson Harvey, Mitchell Kiekhafer, Nate Polden, Taylor Sarauer and Brett Schindler.
Sophomores: Tommy Anderson, Devin Lamm and Chris Scharlau.
Freshmen: Marcus Drees, Austyn Bartz, Sawyer Best, Mitch Harmon, Nick Jenson, Cole Kiekhafer, Noah LaNou, Chace Peterson, Zac Rindy, Bryce Schindler, Austin Snider, Brad Thompson and Dan Zons.