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Paynesville Press - April 17, 2002

Amateur baseball season about to start

By Michael Jacobson

Roscoe's Greg Henen Pitching and defense are in.

Tons of homeruns are out.

The cause is the statewide switch to wood bats for amateur baseball. The result may be back-to-the-basics games, instead of Sunday afternoon slugfests using aluminum bats.

"(Using wood bats) will cut down on the homeruns and make bunting and base stealing a bigger part of the game," predicted St. Martin manager Carl Lieser. "I think it will be a lot of fun. Everyone is pretty excited about it."

"You won't get your little bloopers," added Brad Lieser, Regal's new manager. "Homeruns will be down because you won't have 110-pound guys hitting them."

Using wood bats - which was done for safety concerns - should help pitchers reclaim the inside part of the plate and reduce hits off the handle and end of aluminum bats.

The change will put some strategy back in the game, said Lake Henry manager Tom Ludwig, with teams trying to manufacture runs with baserunning and bunting instead of waiting for homeruns.

Making contact and putting the ball in play will also be more important this year, the managers agree.

Roscoe's Greg Heinen was one of the area leaders in ERAs last year at 3.89. Pitchers could also benefit from the statewide use of wood bats this year, with a smaller sweet spot on a wooden bat.

And fielding will more important in low-scoring games, as unearned runs will be more crucial. "Teams that make a lot of errors are going to be in trouble," said Brad Lieser.

Wood bats will be more costly than aluminum. Some teams have spent several thousand dollars on new wood bats, according to Tony Orbeck, Roscoe's new manager.

The Paynesville Pirates have already broken two $60 bats during preseason hitting, said manager Dale Hess.

Low-scoring, close games should also be faster, managers agree.

Another change this year will be Paynesville and Regal playing in a new league. The County Line League disbanded after Melrose and Sauk Centre left, and the remaining four teams joined the new eight-team Central Lakes League.

"There are two halves, and the old County Line League is all in one half," said Brad Lieser.

Regal will play Paynesville, Norway Lake-Sunburg, and New London-Spicer twice this year and Bird Island, Raymond, Sacred Heart, and Willmar once.

Paynesville will play Regal, New London-Spicer, and Norway Lake-Sunburg twice and the rest once.

Lake Henry Lakers
League: Stearns County South
2001 Record: 19-8

Season Outlook
The Lakers will be looking to earn their third consecutive trip to the Class C state tournament, which will be held in St. Cloud and Cold Spring this year. After qualifying for state in 2000 after a 25-year absence, the Lakers won their league again last year, used ninth-inning dramatics to avoid elimination at regions in New Munich, and won a game at state, before falling in an extra-inning thriller.

Keys to a successful season in 2002, according to manager Tom Ludwig, are playing solid defense, throwing strikes, putting the ball in play, working hard, and playing unselfish baseball. The Lakers return their starting lineup, except for leadoff hitter Ben Bork, and their pitching staff, anchored by Roger Wuertz and Mike Stalboerger, who were a combined 12-3 last year. Ryan Wuertz and Jeff Schmitz lead an offense that had 12 .300 hitters last year.

Leading Hitters: 2B Ryan Wuertz (.375 AVG, 12 HR, 36 RBI), 1B-OF Jeff Schmitz (.384, 9 HR, 37 RBI), SS-P Doug Fuchs (.354, 7 HR, 25 RBI), 3B-P Roger Wuertz (.342, 5 HR, 20 RBI), C-1B Adam Miller (.342), C-SS Jon Lieser (.338), OF Chad Spanier (.333), 3B-P Mike Stalboerger (.318, 8 HR, 22 RBI)
Pitching Staff: Roger Wuertz (3.68 ERA, 7-2, 66 IP, 64 K), Stalboerger (4.23, 5-1, 53.2 IP), Fuchs (4.63, 2-0, 27.2 IP), Tyler Wuertz (4.50, 2-1), Ryan Wuertz (0-2, 29.1 IP)
New Players: assistant manager Bert Weidner
Lost Players: Ben Bork, assistant manager Tom Hopfer, Nick Stalboerger

Paynesville Pirates
League: Central Lakes North
2001 Record: 15-8

Season Outlook
After finishing with a .500 record in 2000, the Pirates recorded their first winning season in 2001, going 15-8. Six of those losses were to Melrose and Sauk Centre in the old County Line League. Both of those teams left the league, while the four remaining teams joined the new Central Lakes League. "We're not one bit sad at all," said manager Dale Hess, about not having either team in league this year. "Almost all our losses the last year came from them."

The Pirates will have to replace workhorse pitcher Dan Starken this year, and Hess hopes Jason Schlecht will be healthy and able to pitch some of those innings. "The key this year is the wooden bat," said Hess. "It's going to help us a lot because we've got speed. We never did hit many homeruns."

Leading Hitters: CF Darren Michaelis (.460), LF Chris Soine (.400), SS Pat Mohs (.385), 3B-P Chris Stanley (.380)
Pitching Staff: Jason Schlecht, Brad Deyak, Stanley, and Shannon Olmscheid
New Players: P-1B-OF Deyak
Lost Players: P-1B Dan Starken

Paynesville Schedule
Saturday, April 20, at St. Martin, 1 p.m.
Saturday, April 27, at Melrose ,1:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 28, at Norway Lake*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 5, New London*, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 11, at Roscoe, 1 p.m.
Sunday, May 12, at Regal*, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 15, Richmond ,1:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 19, at Willmar*, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 22, Farming, 7 p.m.
Friday, May 24, at Raymond*, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 29, St. Martin, 7 p.m.
Friday, May 31, Lake Henry, 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 2, Bird Island*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 9, Sacred Heart*, 7 p.m.
Friday, June 14, Regal*, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, June 21, Norway Lake*, 7:30 p.m.
June 26, 27, & 28, Home Tournament, 7 p.m.
Sunday, July 30, at New London*, 1:30 p.m.
*Denotes league game

Regal Eagles
League: Central Lakes North

2001 League Record: 8-6

Season Outlook
The Eagles will be rebuilding with young players this year on account of losing at least six veteran hitters. The team will have to rely on its pitching, defense, and ability to manufacture runs by running, bunting, and using the hit and run, according to new manager Brad Lieser. Not playing this year are state tournament veterans Randy Beier, Jeff Deming, and Mike Tangen, and Tim Haines status is still unknown, said Lieser.

"Hopefully, in two or three years, we'll be right back where we were. Maybe it'll happen this year," Lieser said. "It'll depend on how the young guys do." Anchoring the pitching staff for Regal will be Nathan Winter and Wade Von Eschen, who may be out to mid-May while recovering from knee surgery. Regal, like Paynesville, will play in a new league this year.

Leading Hitters: Lieser (.333, 9 HR), Wade Von Eschen (.362, 5 HR), Aaron DeRoo (.295), Nathan Winter (.268)
Pitching Staff: Winter, Von Eschen, Jeremy Fuchs, and Scott Mueller
New Players: IF-OF Max Meagher, IF-OF Pat Rohe, C-IF Nick Speldrich, OF Jason Halls, IF-OF Josh Eckstein
Lost Players: Randy Beier, Brad Deyak, Jeff Deming, Jeremy Glenz, Mike Tangen, and Scott Braun

Regal Schedule
Sunday, April 28, at New London*, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 1, St. Martin, 6:15 p.m.
Sunday, May 5, at Norway Lake*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 12, Paynesville*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 19, Raymond*, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 22, Eden Valley, TBA
Sunday, May 26, at Willmar*, 1:30 p.m.
Friday, May 31, vs. Spring Hill at Elrosa, 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 2, Sacred Heart*, 1:30 p.m.
Friday, June 7, at Bird Island*, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 8, at Lake Henry, 1:30 p.m.
Friday, June 14, at Paynesville*, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 19, Richmond, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 23, New London*, 1:30 p.m.
June 26, 27, & 28, Paynesville Tourney, 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 30, Norway Lake*, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 13, Melrose, 1:30 p.m.
*Denotes league game

Roscoe Rangers
League: Stearns County South
2001 Record: 6-12

Season Outlook
The Roscoe Rangers, who have never advanced to regions, will try to rebound this summer under their third manager in four years. Veteran slugger Tony Orbeck will be a player-manager for Roscoe this year. Orbeck said the team needs to improve (especially on defense), throw strikes, and keep team morale up no matter what, having fun, in order to make the playoffs.

"Anything can happen in a three-game series," Orbeck notes. To make the playoffs, Roscoe will have to improve its 4-9 league record of last year, but it has all its players back to do so.

Leading Hitters: 3B-C Todd Leyendecker (.375, 2 HR, 17 RBI), Orbeck (.364, 4 HR, 13 RBI), SS-P Greg Heinen (.323, HR 3), IF-P Chris VanderBeek (.322), OF-P Brent Heinen (.306), and OF Curt Christian (.286)
Pitching Staff: Greg Heinen (3.89 ERA, 37 IP), Brent Heinen (5.44 ERA, 49 IP, 55 K), Lee Schleper (0.55 ERA, 16 IP), Justin Mackedanz, and Orbeck
New Players: Keith Winter

Roscoe Schedule
Saturday, April 20, Luxemburg, 1 p.m.
Sunday, April 21, New Munich*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 28, at Richmond*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 5, Lake Henry*, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 11, Paynesville, 1 p.m.
Sunday, May 12, at Farming*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 19, St. Martin*, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 22, St. Nicholas, 6:15 p.m.
Saturday, May 25, Greenwald*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 26, at Meire Grove*, 1:30 p.m.
Friday, May 31, at St. Stephen, 6 p.m.
Sunday, June 2, at Elrosa*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 9, at Spring Hill*, 1:30 p.m.
Friday, June 14, Avon, 6:15 p.m.
Sunday, June 16, Richmond*, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 19, at Pearl Lake, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, June 21, All Star at Elrosa, 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 23, at Lake Henry*, 1:30 p.m.
June 26, 27, & 28, Paynesville Tourney, 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 30, Farming*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 7, at St. Martin*, 1:30 p.m.
*Denotes league game

St. Martin Martins
League: Stearns County South
2001 Record: 9-12

Season Outlook
The Martins hope to challenge for the title in the southern division of the Stearns County League, advance to regions, and compete for a state trip, according to manager Carl Lieser. The Martins were 7-6 in league last year, but only 9-12 overall.

Keys to St. Martin's season are staying healthy, getting consistent pitching, cutting down on walks allowed, and playing good defense. On offense, the Martins hit 35 homeruns last year, which might be difficult to duplicate. Lieser hopes the team will use its speed better by stealing more bases in 2002.

Leading Hitters: P-OF Sam Rothstein (.407, 12 HR, 24 RBI), OF-P Kenny Arceneau (.381), IF Jesse Thelen (.342), IF-P Luke Rothstein (.338, 19 RBI), IF Craig Hennen (.333), C Jake Thelen (.300), OF Steve Lieser (.281, 10 SB)
Pitching Staff: Arceneau (5.00 ERA, 2-4, 36 IP), Chad Rothstein (6.97, 3-3, 31 IP), Sam Rothstein (5.00, 18 IP), Lieser (5.52, 31 IP), Luke Rothstein (6.55, 22 IP), Tim Schaefer (18 IP), Jim Arceneau
New Players: Nathan Beier, Mike Feldewerd, and Adam Kalthoff

St. Martin Schedule
Sunday, April 14, at St. Nicholas, 1 p.m.
Saturday, April 20, at Paynesville, 1 p.m.
Sunday, April 21, Richmond*, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 28, at Lake Henry*, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 1, at Regal, 6:15 p.m.
Friday, May 3 Sartell 6:15 p.m.
Sunday, May 5 Farming* 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 8 Avon 6:15 p.m.
Friday, May 10 at St. Joseph 6:15 p.m.
Sunday, May 12 Greenwald* 1:30 p.m
Thursday, May 16 at Cold Spring Rockies 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 19 at Roscoe* 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 22 at Pearl Lake 6:15 p.m.
Saturday, May 25 Spring Hill* 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 26 at New Munich* 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 29 at Paynesville 7 p.m.
Friday, May 31 at Sartell 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 2 at Meire Grove* 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 5 at St. Nicholas 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 9 at Richmond* 1:30 p.m.
Friday, June 14 at Luxemburg 6:15 p.m.
Sunday, June 16 Lake Henry* 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 19 at Avon 6:30 p.m.
Friday, June 21 All Star at Elrosa 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 23, at Farming*, 1:30 p.m.
Friday, June 28, Melrose, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 30, Elrosa*, 1:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 3, Luxemburg ,6:30 p.m.
Friday, July 5, St. Joseph , 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 7, Roscoe* 1:30 p.m.
*Denotes league game

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