By Harry Lipsiea
Lake Region State College head baseball coach Blake Reinholt sits back in his office chair with a smile thinking about how far along the team is this season.
By Harry Lipsiea
Lake Region State College head baseball coach Blake Reinholt sits back in his office chair with a smile thinking about how far along the team is this season. The Royals have played 11 games and are now gearing up for the conference schedule to begin.
In 2014, the squad played its first game of the season April 8. If Mother Nature cooperates, the Royals will have played 17 games by that date in 2015.
"It's pretty exciting," Reinholt, who is in his first year as head coach of the program after serving as an assistant last year, stated. "Being able to get so many at-bats this early in the season is huge. We hope the additional reps really pay off."
A bulk of the team's games were played during a road trip to Arkansas March 16-20. Before taking off to the south, Lake Region State College played a doubleheader on the road against the University of Mary JV. The Marauders came out on the winning side of both affairs.
During the North Arkansas College jamboree, the Royals were able to get in seven games against different competition from throughout the nation.
While the Royals fell short in each game they played, they were extremely competitive and had chances to win two or three contests.
"We had very good opportunities to win two or three games," he said. "But, we just weren't able to get that timely hit we needed to at the right times."
Coach Reinholt was particularly pleased with the way his team competed throughout. One of the team's best attributes consistently displayed was its defense and pitching
"Our pitchers did a good job of throwing strikes and letting the guys behind them go to work," Reinholt stated. "For this early in the season, I thought our defense was particularly impressive. There were a couple of situations we have to work on, but overall I felt our defense was very solid."
While the stats didn't show it, the coaching staff saw tremendous improvement offensively in Arkansas.
"I thought we did a much better job of putting the ball in play," Reinholt stated. "It's going to be important for us to find holes in the defense and get those timely hits."
On Wednesday, the Royals traveled to Thief River Falls, Minn., to take on Northland College. The squad fell 8-0 and 11-3.
The Lake Region State College baseball team is just in its second season after the program was brought back to the school after 20 years. Last year, the team, who finished the season with one win, featured 12 players.
The 2015 edition of the Royals feature improved depth as six sophomores return to the roster and are joined by 11 freshmen.
"It's a good mix of experience and a strong freshmen group," Reinholt stated. "We are happy with the strides we have made from last season."
Back for the team from a season ago are sophomores James Uriell, Drew Schill, Ben Morris, Skyler Carlson, Jordan DeMarais and Brady LaMotte.
Uriell, Devils Lake, is an All-Conference outfielder who hit .300 a season ago.
Schill, Cando, is a utility player that will see time both behind the dish and on the mound. Morris, Sundance, Wyo., adds size and athleticism at third base. Carlson, Thompson, returns as the squad's No. 1 pitcher. DeMarais, Devils Lake, will play in the outfield and is expected to log innings as a middle reliever. LaMotte, Devils Lake, brings speed to the outfield.
"Our sophomores know exactly what to expect going into the season and what college baseball is all about," the coach added. "We are lead by a great group of sophomores."
Making up the squad's large freshmen class are Patrick Becker, Brandon Walsh, Andrew Klegstad, Ryne Dolleslager, Josh Carvajal, Taylor Foss, Dylan Bender, Matt Kuck, Dakota Hoyt, Bryce Karl and Bryce Burnett.
Becker, Beulah, has looked good on the mound this season as has Thompson natives, Walsh and Klegstad. Dolleslager, Thompson, is handling a lot of the catching duties. Carvajal, Miami, Fla., brings speed and strong defense to the shortstop position.
Foss, Finley, Bender, Buffalo, Wyo., and Kuck, Wyo., are expected to log innings as middle relievers for Lake Region State College.
Hoyt, Glenfield, brings a big stick to the lineup at the designated hitter and first base spots.
Karl, Harwood, is a pitcher with a live fastball who threw in two games during the Arkansas roadtrip. Barnett is a relief pitcher who also will see time in the outfield.
"Our freshmen are adjusting to the college game, but they have done a very good job," Reinholt stated. "It's been great to get those extra at-bats with so many games early on."
The Royals are looking to continue to get better and climb the ranks of the Mon-Dako Conference.
Right now, the first-year head coach is pleased with where his team is at.
"Our defense is head-and-shoulders above where we were at last season and our pitchers are doing a great job of throwing strikes," Reinholt stated. "If we can keep improving offensively and get those hits to start dropping in, I think we will be in good shape."
The Royals are next in action Friday and Saturday in Minneapolis against Dakota County Technical College.