By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — The 2017 Dunn-St. Croix Conference Player of the Year Ethan Kjellberg is returning to the Elk Mound baseball team this year in the number one pitching spot.
All together, eight letter winners are returning to the Elk Mound baseball team, said Paul Andrea, head coach.
In addition to Kjellberg, letter winners include Logan Bergh, Blake Rosenthal, Dylan Black, Dylan Curry, Kole Ploeckelman, Dakota Bedell and Brett Lew.
The overall team record last year was 18-8 (12-1 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference).
The Elk Mound baseball team shared the conference title last year with Durand and was the regional champion, too, losing to Durand in the Sectional Semi-final.
Players who graduated last spring were Trey Mohr, the number one pitcher, along with Carter Pritchard, who started at second base as well as Dane Lew in left field and Hunter Adleman in center field.
Andrea did not speculate on which newcomers seem to have potential.
“That is to be determined,” he said.
Elk Mound baseball’s strength this season is, “team defense as well as pitching, but we will need to develop more depth there,” Andrea said.
“Putting the ball in play and too many strikeouts needs to improve and was a weakness last year. Overall team speed is a weakness too,” he said.
“We need to bat over .300 as a team and limit errors. The goal, as always, is to win the conference and make another run in the state tournament,” Andrea said.
This year’s top competitor will be Durand, considering the players they have coming back, “and possibly Mondovi if they develop some pitching depth,” he said.
“Spring Valley lost a lot but have had some good teams the past several years. We plan to be right in the mix as well,” Andrea said.
Andrea has been coaching baseball for 19 years and has a record of 236-124.
Randy Simpson and John Chisholm are assistant baseball coaches.
The Elk Mound 2018 baseball team includes the following players:
• Freshmen — Sam Lor, Christian Hall, Gabe Moschkau, Logan Smith, Ben Heath, Sam Roder, Brett Rosenthal, Aidan Balts, Nate Lew, Ryan Bohl, Michael Jenson and Jackson Severson.
• Sophomores — Cole Steinhorst, Chase Rhude, James Javanovich, Blaze Todd, Cole Baskin, Kendall Nigon, Mickey Flynn.
• Juniors — Andrew Williams, Ethan Kaanta, Brett Lew, Jade Saxton-Jenson.
• Seniors — Kole Ploeckelman, Ethan Kjellberg, Blake Rosenthal, Dylan Black, Jonas Kohls, Logan Bergh, Dakota Bedell, Dylan Curry.