“He did a great job fielding his position last year,” Magers said. “He made some key plays in big situations. We’ve been the best fielding team in the nation the last two years and he’s one of the reasons why.”
Almost all good defensive teams have quality pitching and the Mavericks are no different. Pitcher Jason Hoppe (8-1, 1.26 ERA) is back to anchor the staff after throwing an NCAA record ..... consecutive shutout innings last season. He will be joined by veterans T.J. Larson (6-0, 3.63) and Bryce Bellin (3-1, 3.79).
Josh Matheson (1-0, 2.55), a spot-starter a year ago, is expected to join the regular rotation as well. Tyler Ockuly (2-3, 4.72), who missed much of last season due to arm problems, is back and will also get some starts.
Transfer Taylor Nawrocki is expected to fill a similar role to Ockuly. Chris Williams is the heir apparent to long-time closer Mahlon Zimmerman who graduated.
The infield has veterans at every spot except second base. Nolan Johnson (.359, 39 RBIs) is the catcher, Stetson Olson (.298, 9 HRs, 38 RBIs) plays first, Standish is at short and Connor McCallum (.354, 35 RBIs) plays third. Red-shirt freshman Eric Peterson is expected to take over at second.
The outfield will consist of Taylor Branstad (.274) in left, Parker Sullivan (.318, 8 SBs) in center and a platoon of Max Walletich and transfer Kevin Kramer from St. Cloud Tech in right. Mike Andries (.222, 9 2Bs) is the designated hitter and back-up catcher.
“That’s the way we’re going to start the year,” Magers said. “If some of the younger guys can impress in the early going we’ll have some tough decisions to make. But that’s a good problem to have.”
The Mavericks open their season Saturday with a doubleheader at Arkansas Monticello. The forecast calls for wind and temperatures in the 40s.
“That’s going to seem like summer to us considering the winter we’ve having,” Standish said. “We can’t wait to get going.”