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Paynesville Press - June 18, 2003

Five Dogs earn conference honors

By Michael Jacobson

Five Bulldog baseball players earned All Conference honors in the West Central Conference North, regarded by its coaches as the toughest Class AA baseball conference in the state.

Earning All Conference honors were senior Josh Kampsen and Russ Leyendecker and junior Adam Kampsen. Earning honorable mention honors were junior Adam Hemmesch and ninth grader John Hemingson.

The Kampsen brothers led the Bulldogs at the plate and on the mound. At the plate, they hit 14 homers, drove in 40 runs, scored 41 runs, and hit .398 combined.

Josh Kampsen led the team with a .412 average (among players with at least 20 at bats) with 10 homers, including two grand slams, and 27 RBIs. He tied the school record for homeruns in a single season (matching Dustin Looman's ten homers in 1999). As a junior and senior, Kampsen hit .442 (53 for 120) with 13 homeruns.

Adam Kampsen hit .377 with four homeruns and 13 RBIs. Batting third, in front of his brother, he led the team with 21 runs.

On the mound, Adam led the Bulldogs with an ERA of 1.62. In 46 innings, he allowed only 38 hits while striking out 35. He had a streak of 21 shutout innings this spring and compiled a record of 4-3.

Josh was 5-3 on the mound with an ERA of 3.55 in 55 innings. Together the Kampsen brothers pitched 75 percent of the innings for the Bulldogs this spring.

Leyendecker, a senior second baseman and pitcher, led off for the Bulldogs and was fourth on the team with 11 runs scored. On the mound, he was 2-1 with an ERA of 3.63 in 19 innings, including a complete game victory against state-rated Sauk Centre where he allowed only an unearned run.

Hemmesch, a junior right fielder, batted ninth in the Bulldogs' lineup but finished third on the team in batting average (among players with at least 20 at bats). He batted .356 with two homeruns and 10 RBIs. He was third on the team by scoring 13 runs and second with 10 walks, trailing senior Scott Thomes who led the team with 12 walks.

Hemmesch and the Kampsen brothers were the only regulars to hit better than .260 for the Dogs.

Hemingson, the Bulldogs' primary catcher, saw limited action at the plate but provided excellent defense for the Dogs behind the plate.

As a team, the Bulldogs hit .272 (compared with .278 last year). They scored 106 runs (5.3 runs per game) and allowed only 78 runs (3.9 runs per game). Last year, the Dogs scored 5.6 runs per game but allowed 6.5 runs per game.

In 2003, the Bulldogs' team ERA was 2.55, two runs per game less than in 2002 when it was 4.52.

The Bulldogs tied for second in the conference with a 6-4 record in 2003, trailing Melrose (9-1) and matching St. Cloud Cathedral (6-4). Five teams from the conference were rated state, including Melrose, who climbed to #1 in the rankings before losing to Cathedral in the Section 6AA finals. Cathedral - in their third straight state tourney appearance - won the school's fifth state title in baseball.

Waconia, who won the Section 5AA title, beating the Bulldogs, lost to Breck, the Class AA runner-up, in extra innings in the first round of the state tournament and then took sixth place.

The Bulldogs, who placed fifth at state in 2002, started the season ranked second in the state, despite losing seven senior starters from last year. The team, though, worked hard to prove it belonged in the ranks of the state elite, according to coach Brad Skoglund, starting with offseason weight lifting and hitting. Throughout the spring, the team practiced like a state-rated team, said Skoglund.

On the field, the Bulldogs started the 2003 season 3-4, including 1-3 in the conference, but then won 10 of their next 11 games, including six of their last seven conference games, with their only loss being to Melrose. The Bulldogs won the Subsection 20AA title for the second consecutive year and for the fifth time in the past 12 years.

At sections, the Dogs lost two games and finished the season 13-7.

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