The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

March 28, 2014

Pitching, speed boost West baseball's hopes

Scarlets were 13-9 last season with many key players back

MANKATO — The poor weather made last season so compact, with the Mankato West baseball team playing 16 games in the last 15 days of the regular season, that coach Ethan Anderson doesn’t think his players realized how close they’d come to winning a Big Nine Conference championship.

With a little luck, and some better weather, Anderson feels like West will be right back in the mix, maybe finishing better than third and overcoming that two-game deficit to first place.

“The biggest thing is we have some pitching depth,” Anderson said. “And we have a lot of team speed. We have, potentially, six or seven guys in the lineup that can steal a base or score from first on a double.”

The Scarlets have six seniors returning, led by all-conference selections Tyler Stoffel and Isaac Weber. Stoffel, a shortstop, batted .403 with 10 doubles, one home run and 18 RBIs. He also led the team with 11 stolen bases. Weber, an outfielder/designated hitter, hit .353 with seven doubles and 17 RBIs.

Devin Ries was one of the top pitchers last season with a 4-1 record with one save and a 2.29 earned-run average. He will play right field when he’s not on the mound, and his .362 batting average ranked second on the team, with six doubles, two triples and seven RBIs.

“We’ve got a good pitching staff,” Ries said. “Our lineup should be pretty good, too. We should have a good offense.”

Josh Cook, who will pitch and play first base, batted .257 with a home run and 13 RBIs. On the mound, he was 2-1 with two saves and a 4.50 ERA.

Tyler Hatlestad will play in the outfield, while Adrian Anderson could do some pitching.

“I don’t think we realized how close we came to winning the Big Nine last season,” coach Anderson said. “But we’re not going to measure success by a Big Nine title. We’re going to measure success by how much we improve as the season goes along.”

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