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Northome-Kelliher’s Donnie White takes a few swings in the cage during a recent practice session as catcher Austin Dreher backs up the pitch. Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer

Area baseball: Blackduck seeks third straight trip to state tournament

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BLACKDUCK — The Blackduck baseball team made an appearance at the state tournament the past two years and the Drakes are expecting nothing less than a return trip in 2014.

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Leading the Drakes this year will be the four senior captains: Jake Krabbenhoft, Matthew Patch, Dylan Dexter and Colton Bales. Krabbenhoft will be at shortstop and on the mound, Patch will be at second base, Dexter will be at first base and in the outfield and Bales will be the catcher.

The Drakes will start mostly juniors and seniors who have a considerable amount of varsity and American Legion baseball experience, according to head coach Dwight Kalvig. The experience will be especially strong in pitching, with Krabbenhoft and junior Jake Peterson.

The entire squad consists of players who have state experience. The Drakes placed fourth in 2012 but dropped both of their contests last spring.

Kalvig’s immediate goals for the team are to have the Drakes continue to improve throughout the season and contend for a conference title and another trip to the Section 8A tournament.

Dexter said that he would like to see nothing less than another state tournament appearance. “Always shoot for the first ones like conference, sub-section and section, but also grow as a team together,” he said of goals for the upcoming season.

Joining the four captains on the varsity roster will be senior Tyler Bird, juniors Andrew Nissen, Peterson, Trevor Smith and Evan Weisert, sophomores Nathan Affield, Tanner Depew, Dexter Levi, Isaac Gustafson, Edward Kanzig, Kyle Solberg and Ian Willborg. Unable to play this year is junior outfielder Tanner George due to an injury.

The home opener was scheduled for April 8 against Lake of the Woods but was postponed due to weather conditions. The game is rescheduled for April 29. A game against Red Lake Falls scheduled for April 10 was also canceled along with a tournament that was set to be in Grand Forks, N.D. this weekend.

The Drakes are scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. on April 15 at home against Laporte.

Northome-Kelliher

Despite losing its entire pitching staff, the Northome-Kelliher baseball team hopes to remain competitive in each game this year.

Returning letterwinners include Mark Geerdes, Dylan Villaran, Cole Koisti and Donnie White. Coach Dan Alto said that the team will look to Geerdes and Villaran for leadership and that a host of younger players will look to make contributions as well.

Along with being competitive in each game, Alto said he hopes the team “will be able to make plays in the field that they should be able to make.”

The Mustangs have two seniors who are new to the program this year. Will Thurston and Isaiah Rahier will be on the varsity roster and Alto said that they will fit in nicely with the rest of the team.

Completing the roster will be senior Brody Grundmeier, juniors Brennan Strong, Justin Baumgartner, Mitchell Nistler and Rory Spears, sophomores Koisti, Danny LaDuke and Joseph Weidenborner plus freshmen Austin Dreher, Jonathan Weidenborner and Trevor Poxleitner.

Last year the Mustangs posted a 4-8 record and lost to Northland in the first round of the Section 8A tournament.

The Mustangs were scheduled to play Bagley on April 8 and Lake of the Woods on April 10, but both games were postponed due to weather conditions. The next scheduled game for the Mustangs will be their home opener on April 15 against Nevis.

Red Lake

Ryan Holthusen returns to lead the Warriors. The senior shortstop and pitcher was an all conference pick last year and joins Marcus Beaulieau as four-year letterwinners.

Also back are three-year letterwinner William Chaboyea, two-year returners Jimmy Jourdain and Russell Kingbird plus Craig French, Tom May and Robbie Beaulieu who lettered last season.

“Ryan is a team leader who can rally players around him,” said Red Lake coach Jason Niemi. “Now that he is a senior we are relying on his leadership to mold the younger players. We also have William Chaboyea returning as a very versatile player. It is nice having a player like that to fill in and give players a rest if needed.

“This season we also have Robbie Beaulieu returning behind the dish. Robbie is a sophomore with a lot of potential. He will be behind the plate for a lot of innings this year.”

The coach believes that the Warriors can be competitive each time they step onto the field and gaining that confidence will be one of the team’s goals.

“We also want to improve every day of the season,” Niemi said. “We want the boys to have fun but also to learn the fundamentals of baseball.”

With only two seniors (Beaulieu and Holthusen), the future of the program appears to be bright.

“We are starting to get a good nucleus of younger baseball players in our program,” Niemi said. “This year some of those younger players will have the opportunity to earn some varsity experience. We are looking at only two seniors so there will be many younger players getting their chances to play.”

Among the players included in that category are Ira Spears, Dillion Kingbird, Rob McClain, D’Carlo Jarva, Marcus Isham, Darren Kingbird, Darwin Strong, Aaron White, Cyras Whitefeather, Will Berrard, Cole Cobenais and Chase Cobenais.

“Our lineup is not set in stone. It is still a work in progress,” the coach said. “If players are willing to work they will earn playing time this season.

“As in the past we are weak in the area of pitching. Our hope is to find a few young arms that we can develop for this year and beyond.”

Laporte

An experienced pitching staff is among Laporte’s strengths as senior Jerod Miller, junior Austin Moss and sophomore Jackson Booth return to the mound.

“Our strengths should be in having experience in the pitching department,” said Laporte coach Randy Reimer. “We should also be strong up the middle which should help us defensively.

“One of the concerns is the offensive side of the game,” the coach continued. “Last year we struggled to score runs and that will have to be improved. We also have to avoid the big inning defensively.”

Leading the Wildcats will be seniors Isaiah Silvis, Dononvin Kelley and Miller. Blake Klinke joins Moss as the juniors while the sophomores are Booth, Kyle Kloehn and Quinton Nelson.

Also on the roster are eighth graders Riley Kline and Darin Johannsen.

“Once again, we enter the season with reserved optimism and hope to get off to a good start,” Reimer said. “We will look to the leadership of our upperclassmen to help drive the team.”

Cass Lake-Bena

The Panthers have four seniors but the majority of their roster are underclassmen. The senior class includes Brendan Humphrey, Daniel Fredrickson, Daven Staples and Nicolas Rairdon while Allen Kaasa, Sebastian McFadden and Vincent Robinson are juniors.

Daniel Drouillard and Kyle Kohlhoff are the sophomores while the large freshman contingent includes Coredell Coss, David Foster, Dillon Dahl, Eddie Robinson, James Jones, Joshua Briski, Raymond Kraskey and Terick Frazer.

Bagley

Bagley’s roster features a mix of experience and youth. The experience is provided by seniors Kyle Nelson, Calvin Larson, Ryan LaRue, Jacob Skansberg and Corbin Thoreson. The juniors include Andrew Gebhardt, Caleb Snobl, Ty Erickson, Jordan Loiland, Nae Rolfson, Colton Adams, Izack Normandin, Tyler Godin and Mark Lundsten. Also on the roster are sophomore Lucas Olson and freshman Ben Thoma.

Area Baseball Schedules

Bagley

4/8 Northome-Kelliher ppd

4/10 Win-E-Mac 4:30 p.m.

4/11 Laporte 4:30 p.m.

4/14 at Norman County 4:30 p.m.

4/15 at WHA 4:30 p.m.

4/21 at TRF 4:30 p.m.

4/24 at Lake Park-Audubon 4:30 p.m.

4/25 at Crookston 4:30 p.m.

4/29 at Northome-Kelliher 4:30 p.m.

5/5 at Fosston 4:30 p.m.

5/6 Fertile-Beltrami 4:30 p.m.

5/12 at Blackduck (DH) 3 p.m.

5/19 at Roseau 4:30 p.m.

5/22 Park Rapids 4:30 p.m.

Blackduck

4/11 at Sacred Heart Inv. TBD

4/15 Laporte 4:30 p.m.

4/21 Fosston (at BSU) 4:30 p.m.

4/22 Northome-Kelliher 4:30 p.m.

4/24 at Nevis 4:30 p.m.

4/29 at Lake of the Woods 4:30 p.m.

5/1 Cass Lake-Bena 4:30 p.m.

5/2 at Red Lake 4:30 p.m.

5/3 at Crookston Inv. TBD

5/5 Cherry 4:30 p.m.

5/8 at Northome-Kelliher 4:30 p.m.

5/9 WHA 4:30 p.m.

5/12 Bagley (DH) 3 p.m.

5/13 at Pine River 4:30 p.m.

5/22 at Deer River 4:30 p.m.

Laporte

4/10 at WHA 4:30 p.m.

4/11 at Bagley 4:30 p.m.

4/15 at Blackduck 4:30 p.m.

4/17 Cass Lake-Bena 4:30 p.m.

4/22 Nevis 5 p.m.

4/24 at Lake of Woods (DH) 3:15 p.m.

4/25 at Pine River 4:30 p.m.

4/28 at Menahga 4:30 p.m.

5/2 WHA 4:30 p.m.

5/6 at Cass Lake-Bena 4:30 p.m.

5/8 at Nevis 4:30 p.m.

5/9 Pine River 4:30 p.m.

5/10 at Remer 1 p.m.

5/13 Northome-Kelliher 4:30 p.m.

Cass Lake-Bena

4/17 at Laporte 4:30 p.m.

4/24 Northome-Kelliher 4:30 p.m.

4/25 at Nevis 4:30 p.m.

4/29 WHA (DH) 4 p.m.

5/1 at Blackduck 4:30 p.m.

5/6 Laporte 4:30 p.m.

5/9 Nevis 4:30 p.m.

5/13 at Fosston 4:30 p.m.

5/16 at Northome-Kelliher 4:30 p.m.

Northome-Kelliher

4/10 at Lake of the Woods ppd

4/15 Nevis 4:30 p.m.

4/17 Pine River 4:30 p.m.

4/22 at Blackduck 4:30 p.m.

4/24 at Cass Lake-Bena 4:30 p.m.

4/25 Red Lake 4:30 p.m.

4/29 Bagley 4:30 p.m.

5/1 WHA 4:30 p.m.

5/2 Lake of the Woods 4:30 p.m.

5/6 Mahnomen (DH) 4 p.m.

5/8 Blackduck 4:30 p.m.

5/9 at Red Lake 4:30 p.m.

5/13 at Laporte 4:30 p.m.

5/16 Cass Lake-Bena 4:30 p.m.

Red Lake

4/24 at WHA 4:30 p.m.

4/25 at Northome-Kelliher 4:30 p.m.

5/2 Blackduck 4:30 p.m.

5/9 Northome-Kelliher 4:30 p.m.

5/13 at Nevis 4:30 p.m.

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