Baseball preview: Pitching, defense strong suits for young Esko team
The Eskomos look to have strong pitching and defense, but inexperience and offensive production will be a challenge.
Head coach: Ben Haugen
Assistant coaches: Tom Zbacnik, Dave Furcht, Jordan Balow, Jim Karnas
Returning starters: Noah Furcht, Tyler Koskela
New faces: Ty Christenson, Cale Haugen, Dane Hoffman, Avery Liljegren, Jax Ochis, Cole Ondrus
First game: April 13 at home vs. Eveleth-Gilbert
Team strengths: "I think our team's strengths will be our pitching and our defense," coach Ben Haugen said. "I think we're going to have three or four pretty high-level pitchers that throw hard, have a good mix and know how to get guys out. I do based on what I saw last summer I think our defense is going to be pretty solid."
Biggest challenge: The Eskomos will lack experience after the 2020 season was canceled, and with little power in the lineup, they will need to learn to manufacture runs, according to Haugen.
"We've put together a string of really good seasons and we've had some real quality players graduate from Esko," Haugen said. "This year is a little bit of an unknown. T he catcher position has always been a really strong suit at Esko and we're going to be starting a sophomore this year, more than likely Ty Christenson.
"Early on, our expectations are to get better each and every day and hopefully we'll be right in the mix for winning the section title. T hat's still a goal of ours and I think it's attainable."