PREVIEW: Lake region preps baseball, softball roundup

Jack Williams
Devils Lake Journal
Saint Joseph’s High School celebrated its first state baseball title Saturday.

It's that time of the year! As the lake thaws out and the temperature rises, very slowly, area high school teams take the diamond, field, track, and green for the first time in two years.

With the start of the spring season nearing, the Devils Lake Journal reached out to spring preps coaches to get their take on the start of the spring season. 

Devils Lake baseball 

Devils Lake logo

2018-19 record: 14-9, 10-7 EDC 

Head coach: Brent Luehringg

First game: April 6 at Fargo South 

On returning back to the diamond:

"I am ready to get back. Excited for our student-athletes to get back on the field. Not coaching last spring was hard, we had a lot of athletes back from the previous season that competed in the EDC Tournament. This spring we will have a lot of new faces, but we are excited to see what the spring will bring." 

What the Firebirds are looking forward to this season:

"I think for us just to see how our new faces do. We have moved a lot of guys around to try to put ourselves in the best situation to compete. Our youth might put us behind in the experience category, but the growth we see every day is exciting."

Returning standouts: 

"Max Elfman is a returning pitcher for us. As a freshman, he had an ERA under 2 in 15 innings pitched. Also, junior Hayden Hofstad caught a few. innings of varsity baseball for us as a freshman. Both these kids are two years older now. I am excited to see their growth. Also, look out for freshman Jackson Baeth. He is one that really works on his swing and skills. He is mature for his age and very confident." 

Goals for the season: 

"I think with this group our main goal is to improve every day. Our goal is to play the game with max effort and play clean on defense. If we can do those two things we will have a chance to make the EDC Tournament."

North Star baseball 

North Star Bearcats

2018-19 record: 15-5, 9-1 Region 5

Head coach: Jesse Vote 

First game: April 13 vs. New Rockford-Sheyenne 

On returning back to the diamond:

"We did get to have a summer season last year, so it hasn't been two years of not playing baseball. The weather has been cooperative right now for the most part and allowed us to start practicing outside. It's always great to start the baseball season." 

What the Bearcats are looking forward to this season: 

"We have a good mix of kids both young and old, much like our basketball team. A few new starters from 2 years ago, when we went to state. So it will be a slow process where we are going to put guys to begin the year. Our team has a lot of potential to make a run in the post-season. Obviously, high school baseball season is short and sweet so we need to bring our A-game every day as there will be little room for error."

Returning standouts: 

Senior Tommy Nikolaisen (senior), pitcher, 2.817 ERA, 24 SO, 11 ER will look again to be our ace on the mound.

Freshman Dane Hagler, Pitcher, and SS, (freshman), 1.1680 ERA, 14 SO, and 4 ER as a 7th grader, will add to a 1-2 punch on the mound and probably bat in our three spot this year. Batted .441 with 9 RBI and 16 runs scored

Senior Jeremiah Hill, senior, catcher, will be our leadoff hitter and relied heavily on to get our offense going. .339 BA, with a .600 on-base percentage, 30 RBI and 23 Runs scored 2 years ago

Senior Caleb Svir, .481 BA with 24 RBI and 21 Runs scored will also be our 3rd basemen this year.

Our outfield will consist of seniors Blayne Anderson and Hayden Hagler. All other positions will be new for this year.

Goals for this season: 

"Obviously, our first goal is to make it to the state tournament. We just need to be consistent in throwing strikes day in and day out. Also, make use of small ball to put runners in scoring positions and score runs in general."

Langdon/Edmore/Munich baseball 

L/E/M Cardinals logo

Record: 15-10, 7-6 Region 4 

Head coach: Joshua Krivarchka

First game: April 6 at May-Port-C-G

On returning back to the diamond: 

"It is exciting for the kids to get the opportunity to compete this spring after not being able to play last spring. They did get in a legion and babe ruth baseball season last summer where both teams were very successful and we want to carry that over to the spring.

What are the Cardinals are looking forward to this season:

"First, we are excited about having the opportunity to be outside practicing already and we are looking forward to playing games ahead of when we normally get to around here."

Returning standouts: 

"Returning standout are Grant Romfo, Simon Romfo, Cooper Zimmer. All three were all-region baseball players as sophomores and Grant Romfo was an all-state baseball player as a sophomore. They are our 3 best pitchers going into the season. They are great leaders for our team."

Goals for this season:

"Our main goal is to continue to improve throughout the season and be playing our best baseball at tournament time."

Additional comments:

"We believe we will have a really solid pitching staff and our defense will be really good. For us to reach our fullest potential we need to be able to put up runs and get the big hits in big situations."

Midkota/Dakota Prairie/Lakota/Griggs Co. Central baseball

2018-19 record: 3-13, 0-5 Region 4 

Head coach: Logan Lund 

First game: April 6 vs. Sheyenne-New Rockford 

On returning back to the diamond:

"The first day of baseball practice to me, is just like Christmas morning as a little kid. It’s so incredible to have the opportunity to not only have the season, but also having the ability to be outside from the get-go is a blessing. As coaches, we really can’t do everything we want with these players in a confined space inside, so to be outside from day one is really special. I’m excited for these kids and I know they will take full advantage of this opportunity that’s in front of them."

What the Mustangs are looking forward to this season:

"The opportunity to play outside from the start is at the top of everyone’s list, you can’t beat it when you’re from North Dakota. Being indoors for the first couple weeks interestsnobody. Secondly, I think our guys are going to embrace some of these longer road trips. All great teams have the talent to win, but I think it’s the relationships you build and he moments you create not just on the field, but off of it as well that sets great teams apart from good teams."

Returning standouts:

"With losing the season last year, most of these kids are coming into this spring with Legion and Babe Ruth baseball hopefully still on their system. Our young talent has an incredible amount of potential, they just need to buy in on what we are trying to do here and follow the lead of the upper classmen."

"Cade Stein, Cole Hendrickson, and Garret Haakenson are guys that had a very successful summer last year. They are expected to set the standard for this team, on and off the field. Guys like Kaleb Short, who will be our catcher to begin the season, and James Vollmer, who can play anywhere, will also be expected to play a large role. They are overlooked by lots of people who aren’t from within but they have great talent and will be asked a lot of this year." 

Goals for this season:

"As a team, our goal has to be improving each day. Yes, we have set the goal to win the region and play in Jamestown early June, but this team can’t look that far ahead. We have a long way to go with the young team that we have. Improving on something every single day is a tall task sometimes. As a whole, if we buy in to what the standard is and commit to the process on a daily basis, then our goal of playing into June is absolutely attainable."

Sheyenne-New Rockford baseball

2018-19 record: 12-8, 2-4 Region 4

Head coach: Elliott Belquist 

First game: April 6 at Midkota/Dakota Prairie/Lakota/ Griggs Co. Central

Devils Lake softball 

2018-19 record: 1-14, 1-10 EDC 

Head coach: Courtney Loegering

First game: April 6 at West Fargo Sheyenne 

On returning to the field: 

"Everyone throughout the program, athletes, coaches, and parents, are beyond excited and grateful to play this season! We have been putting most of our focus on learning the game, improving softball IQ, and injury prevention. It will be tough as most of the athletes missed out on a crucial season for learning and experience, but everyone, nationwide, is in the same boat."

What the Firebirds looking forward to this season:

"Just to be able to play! We are a fairly young team and everyone is excited to see how well our team can mesh with one another. The girls are looking forward to putting all of their hard work into an actual game rather than at home, in a gym, or on the diamond in solitude."

Returning standouts: 

Senior Tiffany Robbins- "Tiff is an outstanding leader for our team. She started and played in 12 of our 15 games in the 2018/2019 season. She has been improving herself at home and in the gym since our last played game. Her sophomore year, Tiff ended with a .258 batting average, a .614 on-base percentage, and a .722 fielding percentage. She has great power and should prove to be one of our best hitters. Tiff is the kind of athlete that will adapt to whichever position she is placed at."

Junior Bridgette Harkness- "Bridgette was a freshman our last season and was voted captain at the end of that season. She has played in 11 of our 15 games in 2018/2019. She ended that year with a .179 batting average and a .793 fielding percentage. Bridgette has been working on improving her strength to benefit her catching and hitting performance. She has developed a strong sense of the game and has matured in all aspects since her freshman year. She will do great things with her offensive and defensive performance!"

Goals for this season: 

"In past seasons, it has been difficult for us to score runs and utilize runners on base. We are hoping to change that and see more girls cross the plate. In addition to scoring more runs, we are hoping to make an appearance at the EDC tournament that we will be hosting this May."

Additional comments: 

"The girls have been working hard in the off-season and look forward to putting it in action. We hope everyone stays healthy this season and wish the best of luck to all teams!"

Dakota Prairie softball 

Dakota Prairie Knights

2018-19 record: 2-9, 2-8 East northeast region 

Head coach: Ben Morris

First game: April 6 vs. Harvey/Wells County 

Thoughts on returning back to the field: 

"Excited to be back, but there is much work to do as we are behind a year in development."

What the Knights are looking forward to: 

"Getting to have a season and make lasting memories together on the diamond."

Returning standouts:

"Brianna Dinger is my only Senior. She was with me when I started at DP and has become our leader on the team. She will mainly catch, but hopefully, I can get her to have a couple of outings at 3rd base."

Goals for the season:

"With the youth that we have this season, our main goal is to build and slowly improve. There will be a lot of young players that will get varsity playing time. Focus on working on one thing a day and improving throughout the season is our main goal."

Additional comments: 

"Excited for this season as it is virtually an unknown as there have been teams that have lost great players with the canceled season last year. This year could be a surprise. Excited to see how we improve throughout the year." 

Jack Williams covers Lake Region sports and general news for the Devils Lake Journal. Contact him via email at JGWilliams1@gannett.com, or on Twitter @jackgwilliams, or phone at 701-662-2127.