Jack Ahlberg providing necessary production for surging North Star Bearcats

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

CANDO – Sometimes, the flashy play isn’t what gets the job done. 

Instead, it can be the steady play that does the trick. 

While those ahead of him slapped extra-base hits down the right-field line, Jack Ahlberg remained patient. After Parker Simon laced a single to open the sixth inning against the Rugby Panthers on May 16, Ahlberg had an opportunity on his hands. The opportunity, of course, presented itself all too frequently during the inning prior. After all, Zachary Jorde, Dane Hagler and Hunter Hagler attacked Rugby starting pitcher Jacob Ripplinger early in the count. The result was a productive one – the Bearcats tallied three hits (including two doubles) and scored their first run to open the game based on this selective yet aggressive approach. 

North Star's Jack Ahlberg has helped provide a consistent offensive jolt in the middle of the Bearcats' batting order.

While others might have pounced at the sight of blood in the water and yanked at a first-pitch fastball, Ahlberg kept to his style during the sixth inning and promptly drew a walk. While it might not have been a flashy play at the plate, it still led to positive results as the Bearcats scored three runs during the inning and put away the then-undefeated Panthers for good. 

The game marked a Region V milestone to some – the Bearcats clinched the region with the win. To others, the victory illustrated what the Bearcats could do against top-flight competition. 

To Ahlberg, the game was just another way to emphasize his hitting craft. 

“Just keep doing it,” Ahlberg said. 

The 2022 season, in particular, has seen Ahlberg improve at the plate and, in turn, provide the Bearcats with a middle-of-the-order presence they continue to reap the benefits from on a game-to-game basis. After compiling only five plate appearances in three games played during the 2021 season, the second baseman has not only played in more games (five) but has done more in them, too. In five games played this season, Ahlberg has tallied 10 hits (including two doubles), scored eight runs and driven in a pair. 

North Star head coach Jesse Vote has noticed Ahlberg’s production on the field and influence off the field. 

“Well, he [Ahlberg] got DH’ed for last year, a lot,” Vote said. I think this year, more, he has gotten stronger. He has gotten stronger. He is our oldest kid on the team…he’s just a quiet leader. He just does what he is supposed to do [and] what he is asked. I think it’s just more strengths [and] maturity, and he’s crushing the ball right now.” 

Jack Ahlberg (left) has helped provide a veteran presence on and off the field, according to North Star head coach Jesse Vote.

Ahlberg’s influence as a quiet leader stands out even more when considering that Ahlberg has been home-schooled since the third grade. However, by technicality, the junior does not drastically change how he goes about batting practice, fielding drills, or in-game reps with his teammates. 

Instead, Ahlberg continues to do what he has done since last year: adapt. 

“It’s a little bit different,” Ahlberg said. “Not bad. You get up, you work and get it done, and come practice.” 

“He’s been crucial,” Vote said. “He’s hitting in that sixth spot. He hasn’t moved up [and] hasn’t moved down. He has just been steady. We have thought about rearranging some things, but when things are going good, you just sit tight and let things fall into place. Like I said, he is a critical part of our team.” 

Even with games becoming more important as region tournament games begin to get underway, Ahlberg believes an emphasis on going with the pitch instead of pulling it will be critical toward keeping his hitting streak intact. 

“Just taking it wherever the pitcher throws the ball,” Ahlberg said. “Outside, go the other way, up the middle, pull-side.” 

To Vote, Ahlberg’s physical set of tools and baseball IQ will help develop Ahlberg’s skills further and continue to provide a steady spark plug within the North Star lineup. 

“Probably just continuing to put the ball in play,” Vote said. “He doesn’t have a ton of power, but he has enough that he is going to hit it over the first line and drop things in. He has some speed to him, and he just understands the game of baseball. So, I think it is just keeping his consistency going that he has had in our first four or five games.” 

Whether it be a game during the regular season or postseason, Ahlberg will continue to maintain a refined mindset at the plate. For Ahlberg, it boils down to just keep doing what he has been doing. 

That will do the trick. 

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.