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By Amber Hayden
COLFAX — With spring, comes the sounds of bats cracking and the sight of baseballs flying through the air as the beginning of the 2019 high school baseball season is set to get underway.
Colfax head coach Kirk Secraw, in his fourth year at the helm of the Vikings’ baseball program with a 8-34 record, believes that Colfax will need to find players to help eat up innings for pitching because of the pitch count rule.
Colfax lost only three players to graduation last year – Nate Polden, Mitch Kiekhafer and Brett Schindler – but they were big loses. Polden was first team all-conference and brought experience and was the main pitcher for the Vikings, while Kiekhafer and Schindler were known for leadership and hitting.
Polden threw 24 and a third innings for Colfax, who finished 3-5 in the Dunn-St. Croix and 4-7 in a weather-shortened the 2018 season. Kiekhafer tossed 14 and a third innings and Schindler went for six and a third. All three won a game.
The trio also led the Vikings in hitting with Brett Schindler getting 11 hits followed by Kiehhafer and Polden with nine each.
The Vikings will return seven letter winners including: Caden Erickson, Drew Gibson, Cole Kiekhafer, Zach Rindy, Nick Jensen, Mitch Harmon and Chris Scharlau.
Caden Erickson (5 2/3 innings) and Drew Gibson (5 2/3 innings) will return to the pitching mound for Colfax, and for Secraw his hopes for Gibson is to see him be the ace for the pitching staff after his big steps last season.
“Caden brings a lot of baseball knowledge and will play infield and hopefully pitch a lot of innings,” said Secraw. “He’s a great leader.”
The outfield will have help from Zach Rindy and Cole Kiekhafer, according to Secraw. Rindy is a great outfielder who constantly goes for the ball, while Kiekhafer has been solid in right field for the Vikings but had knee surgery.
“Hopefully he (Kiekhafer) is recovered by the time the season starts,” commented Secraw.
Colfax will see some new faces on the field with six incoming players. George Scharlau will add baseball to his list of sports with positions on the mound and in the outfield, Austin Snyder will join the pitching staff, Sawyer Best as a utility player, Devan Olson will help in the infield, Bryce Sikora has a great skill set and will look to develop as a leader as well as freshmen Jamison Flatland, who will look to eat up some innings as a pitcher.
Statistically speaking, coach Secraw wants to see his players with a .500 record and able to win a playoff game or two as well as see the Vikings with a .300 batting average.
For Secraw and the Vikings, the conference teams to watch this season will be Boyceville, who finished tied for first in the Dunn-St. Croix last season, as well as the Mondovi Buffaloes who finished tied for second.
The Vikings will take to the field for the first time on Monday, April 1 with a game in Somerset, followed the next evening at home with a game against Eleva-Strum.
Seniors: Chris Scharlau and George Scharlau
Juniors: Sawyer Best, Marcus Drees, Mitch Harmon, Nick Jensen, Cole Kiekhafer, Zach Rindy and Austin Snyder
Sophomores: Caden Erickson, Drew Gibson and Devan Olson
Freshmen: Luke Blanchard, Colin Bohl, Jamison Flatland, Josiah Harder, Bryce Sikora and Austin Swanson.