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Bemidji Lumberjacks baseball and tennis teams open new seasons

A young Bemidji High School baseball team begins its season today at Brainerd and BHS coach Mike Fogelson is eager to see how his team will fare against one of the better programs in northern Minnesota.

"I am expecting to see a seasoned Brainerd baseball team and this will be a good early-season test for us," Fogelson said.

Bemidji's roster features only four seniors, Chad Head, Paul Voss, Luke Burns and Matt Hietala. Also making the opening-day roster were juniors Chase Vogt, Chris Bendt, Tyler Follis, Cole Bardwell, Matt Schneider, Jeremiah Graves, Zach Solheim, Ryan Stevens and Booster Russ.

The squad also includes sophomores Mitch Hendricks, Cody Rutledge, Tyler Tatro, Mason Bellew and Collin Leif.

"We are a young team and we could play as many as five sophomores," Fogelson said. "We have kids in each grade who are ready to play."

Because of the early spring the Lumberjacks have been able to practice outdoors and those sessions have helped speed the learning process.

"Our goal is to get better each day and we've done that," Fogelson said. "Defensively we should be solid and offensively we should be balanced. We may not have a super star in the lineup but we have good players and I don't think we have any easy outs one through nine in our lineup.

"And we also have some solid bats on the bench," the coach added.

Graves will get the starting pitching nod today and he hopes to build upon last year's success which included a 2-2 record and a 1.81 ERA.

Other returning varsity hurlers include Follis (1-2, 3.85), Head (2-1, 2.00), Kane (0-1, 4.20) and Tatro (0-1, 9.00). Rutledge, a veteran of the Legion mound staff, also could assume some of the pitching duties.

The home opener will be Monday against Thief River Falls and April will also include home appearances against Hibbing (April 22), Grand Forks Red River (April 27) and a doubleheader against Alexandria (April 30).

A veteran Bemidji boys tennis team will open its campaign 4 p.m. today as the Lumberjacks entertain Perham at the high school courts.

"This should be a good opening match for us," said BHS coach Scott Engelstad. "We've been coming along during practices and I'm anxious to see how the kids will look playing against somebody other than themselves. I also want to see how the kids have incorporated what we've been trying to teach them in practice."

Engelstad was still contemplating a lineup Wednesday afternoon but the seven veterans will be in action somewhere along the line.

The group includes seniors Ben Holter, Ben Kloha, Justin Byers and Joey Wood plus junior Levi Rickert and sophomores Adam Holter and Kyle Fodness.

"Early in the season we'll be experimenting with the lineup," the coach said. "I plan on playing different guys in different spots to see how they handle things. That will also help me see what might work in terms of our best lineup."

The Bemidji High School track and field programs will host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. today at the Bemidji High School Commons.

The cost is $6 for adults and $4 for children 10 years of age and under.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200