St. Croix Central baseball team puts in good showing in 2012 season openerThe St. Croix Central baseball team is quickly figuring out its identity.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The St. Croix Central baseball team is quickly figuring out its identity.
The Panthers played their first game of the 2012 season on Monday, losing on their home field against Eau Claire Immanuel, 9-1.
This game was tight until Immanuel broke free with six runs in the sixth inning.
New Central coach Jason Koele is finding out what he has to build around and how he has to mold the team to fit its strengths.
One of the strengths for the team is having two veteran pitchers to build around. Senior Mike Nelson and junior Tyler Lathe have established themselves as the top two starting pitchers, though Koele said he is still looking for a third starter to emerge.
Nelson and Lathe will also be key ingredients in the Panther offense. Those two, and returnee Isaiah Krogseng, are the largest of the Panthers. The rest of the blue-clad Panthers border on being smurf-ish, being that small.
“We have a lot of good contact hitters, but we’re definitely limited in our power hitting,” Koele said.
He said he plans to take advantage of the players’ strengths, which include quickness and being able to handle the bat well. The Panthers were active on the basepaths Monday and Koele said the team will focus on being aggressive by playing “small ball.”
The Panthers scored their run Monday in the second inning, when Lathe knocked in Nelson. The Panthers finished with seven hits in the game, with Nelson and Lathe each recording two of them.
Nelson pitched five quality innings before tiring in the sixth inning, when the Panthers’ inexperience began to show in their defensive play. Koele said he is stressing communication this season. The lack of communication showed in the team’s defensive issues Monday and Koele said better communication can help the team in other areas too.
The Panthers begin their Dunn-St. Croix Conference schedule this Thursday when they play at home against Boyceville. The Panthers will also be at home next Tuesday, facing Plum City.