The 2012 Blackduck Drakes baseball team has completed the first three weeks of the season under the direction of first year head coach, Dwight Kalvig.
Kalvig is no stranger to the baseball scene in Blackduck. A 1978 graduate of BHS, he has been involved with summer baseball in Blackduck at all levels since his high school playing days ended.
Upon graduation, Kalvig coached Little League for three seasons and then moved up to take over the Babe Ruth level Blackduck Knights.
The Knights captured five league championships during his 10 years at the helm. In 1995, Kalvig initiated a four year span of American Legion baseball, culminating in a state tournament appearance in 1998.
From 1992-2008, Kalvig coached the BHS fast pitch softball program. During his 17 years as head coach, the Drakes won eight conference championships and qualified nine teams for the Section 8A tournament.
Kalvig also coached Junior Olympic softball in the summer months; his teams earning five state tournament appearances. In 2001, the Blackduck Stingers lost in the state title game and followed up in 2002 with a third place finish at state.
"Baseball and softball have been a passion of mine for a long, long time." Kalvig said. "I really enjoy working with youth and seeing them grow and mature - not just as athletes but as individuals.
"I've been fortunate to have worked with a lot of talented athletes over my coaching career," he said. "This year's baseball team is another great example of the quality of people that grow up in our community. When I was hired, I was told this team had some talent and these players have definitely proven that to me and to their competition."
The Drakes are sporting an impressive 12-2 mark this season. They have outscored their opponents, 138-32 so far this season.
BHS has been led by a pitching staff sporting a miniscule 1.05 team ERA. Junior Dylan Weisert (4-0, .036 ERA, 20 K); seniors Aaron Nissen (3-1, 0.83 ERA, 37K), Cody Berquist (3-1, 1.18 ERA, 20K) and Luke Krabbenhoft (1-0, 1.68 ERA, 13K) and sophomores, Trey Volk (1-0, 2.42 ERA) and Matt Patch (0-0, 0.00 ERA), make up this pitching staff.
"Having a stable of pitchers of this quality is quite a luxury," said Kalvig.
The Drakes hitters have produced as well, hitting .319 as a team. Every player on the team has an on-base percentage over .300.
At the 14-game mark, Volk (CF/SS) and Berquist (RF) lead the regulars, batting .435 and .417 respectively.
Volk and junior Shane Fenske (C/1B), pace the team with 18 and 11 RBIs. The Drakes are averaging 9.8 runs per game while allowing just 2.3 runs per game.
Kalvig coached teams in the past that have always committed to strong defense and this team is no exception.
Nissen and Volk have share the shortstop position. Patch and junior Jake Krabbenhoft have platoon at second base. L. Krabbenhoft and Fenske split the duties at first.
All season, the infielders have provided stable and consistent glove work. The BHS outfielders have produced outstanding play as well.
Weisert leads the team in outfield assists with Berquist and junior Mitch Sparby having played the outfield with stability while occasionally flashing the leather.
Senior Galen Martin has embraced the role of pinch hitter and defensive outfield specialist. Coming off the bench, he is batting an impressive .500. Fenske and sophomore Colton Bales have shared the catching duties providing strong guidance and leadership for the Drakes pitching staff and defense.
The past four seasons, the Drakes were coached by Rick Olhava. Under him, they have steadily improved, qualifying in 2011 for their first Section 8A appearance in nine seasons.
The community of Blackduck has a long and prosperous history in the sport of baseball. The high school program at BHS has reaped the benefits of an outstanding summer program over the past three decades.
"This year's squad is a culmination of a lot of time, energy and devotion to this sport," said Kalvig. "Our players have benefited from an outstanding summer program and some very good coaching within our school district during their school careers. I want to compliment all those coaches who have worked with these players since they were youngsters. They should be proud of the way this team plays the game of baseball."
The Drakes season continues throughout the month of May. The next scheduled home game is May 15 against Walker. The Drakes are currently atop the North Division of the Northland Conference. Sub-section playoffs begin May 29 and hopefully, the Drakes will be hosting that game.