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By Amber Hayden
BOYCEVILLE — The Boyceville boys’ baseball team will lean on it strengths of pitching and defense in an attempt to capture a second straight Dunn-St. Croix championship and hopefully more in the upcoming 2019 season.
A year ago, the Bulldogs finished with a 7-1 conference record and a share of the Dunn-St. Croix championship with Durand. But a heartbreaking 14-12, extra-innings loss to Elk Mound in the WIAA regional semifinals brought a bittersweet end to an 11-4 campaign last season.
The Bulldogs, coached by Michael Roemhild who is in his fifth year of coaching with a record of 37-39, are looking to build on last year’s successes and achieve even more this year.
Boyceville lost six seniors last season to graduation including Luke Knudtson, a first-team, all-conference selection who held a .378 batting average, an on-base percentage of .509 and had nine RBIs and stole ten bases.
Also departing after graduation were a pair of second-team, all-conference performers – Bryce Boda and Garrett Joles. Boda carried a 3.94 ERA as pitcher for Boyceville as well as only giving up 1.62 walks or hits per inning. Joles, on the other hand, finished up his senior season with 16 RBIs, five stolen bases and had a .432 batting average for the Bulldogs.
Jayson Gonzales, Cooper Boesl and Kyle Holden also walked the stage last May.
“All six of these players started for me last year,” said Bulldogs’ head coach Michael Roemhild. “We will miss their leadership and competitiveness.”
Despite those hefty losses, the Bulldogs still have a pack of talented and experience players returning.
Headlining those returning players is first-team, all-conference catcher Trett Joles, who managed to knock in 17 RBIs for the Bulldogs, and had an on-base percentage of .533 along with 18 stolen bases during his freshman season a year ago.
Second-team, all-conference players Brendan Sempf and Walker Retz return for the 2019 season as well. Sempf, who was known for pitching and playing at shortstop will look to take up his roll once more after finishing up last year with a .310 batting average. Retz, who also plays at shortstop and pitches for the Bulldogs, had a 2.49 ERA against opponents along with eight RBIs and eight stolen bases.
Also returning to the Bulldogs are Trevor Hollister, Connor Sempf, Jaden Reisimer and Brady Nye.
“All of these guys will be a big asset to the team because they all bring a lot of varsity experience back to the team this year,” coach Roemhild explained. “They know what it takes to win and are hungry to play baseball right now.”
The Bulldogs welcome three seniors, one junior and one sophomore who came out for the team that have never played high school baseball, according to Roemhild, along with a large freshman class. Boyceville has 26 players competing for varsity spots for the 2019 season.
The biggest weakness for Boyceville is who is going to step up and lead the team, said Roemhild. It is his opinion that it could be one player or a small group.
“Statistically, we had one of the best years of me coaching here last year. We are going to look at each category and try to do even better this year,” Roemhild stated. “We need to steal more bases and raise our batting average, lower our pitch counts and reduce errors.”
Roemhild’s main goal for the Bulldogs is to find the right group of guys that mesh together on the field to give Boyceville the best chance of winning each day.
Elk Mound and Mondovi will be the teams to watch this season, as both the Mounders and Buffaloes are always competitive.
“I think Mondovi is going to be a very tough team to beat, I think they graduated maybe one or two starters,” said Roemhild. “They return a lot and have great pitching. They lost to Elk Mound in sectionals last year.”
The Bulldogs will take to the field on Tuesday, April 2, against Clayton in their first home game of the season and will host Cadott in another non-conference home contest on Thursday, April 4 against Cadott. Boyceville will open Dunn-St. Croix conference action the following day, April 5th, in Mondovi.
Seniors: Bailey Danovsky, William Link, Erick Loback, Brady Nye, Jaden Reisimer and Seth Wruck.
Juniors: Austin Hatfield, Logan Knudtson, Josh Marzofka and Brendan Sempf.
Sophomores: Brady Helland, Trevor Hollister, Trett Joles, Nick Litomsky, Cole Morrissette, Walker Retz, Connor Sempf and Nate Stuart.
Freshmen: Issac Bartz, Ira Bialzik, Tyler Dormanen, Jacob Granley, Cody Harmon, Dawson McRoberts, Beck Wendland and Jonathan Zebro.