With the loss of seven starters from last year’s team, it doesn’t take Northfield coach Mark Ague long to go through the experience the Raiders are returning this year.
Aside from senior Carter Hodapp, who earned all-conference honors last year for his work at shortstop, there’s seniors Jasper Blundred and Derek Albers.
“They were a couple right-handers who pitched well for us last year so we’re expecting big things out of them,” Auge said.
Senior Lars Prestemon also returns to compete for playing time at the catcher spot.
After that, helping to replace graduate all-conference players Hunter Koep and Danny Glampe is a roster filled out with players who have made small contributions on the varsity level or who are stepping into varsity roles for the first time.
Still, even if the experience isn’t quite there, the age is, with the every Raider listed on the roster claiming and senior or junior class standing.
“We’ve got a pretty strong junior class, so we feel like there will be some good competition in some of those open spots,” Auge said.
In addition to Hodapp, Prestemon, Blundred and Albers, Auge is expecting large contributions from players like junior Jim Vitito, who first established himself as a varsity player late last season but immediately provided valuable at-bats as the team’s designated hitter.
Junior Blake Christensen should see plenty of reps in the infield, while junior Michal Ims is slated to occupy his time on the mound and in the outfield. Junior Luke Johnson and Mason Zick should also eat up some innings for the Northfield pitching staff, as well as senior Joe Pesta, who might also see some time at first base.
Last year’s record: 15-10
Last year’s finish: Lost 6-4 to Red Wing in Section 1AAA final
First game: Monday at Mankato East
“I think even with a young team we expect to compete,” Auge said. “We were 15-10 last year and second place in the section. We lost to Red Wing in the section finals. I think we can compete. There’s some other teams that are right up there as well, but this junior class is pretty good and we’ve got some seniors. We hope do be right up there.”
Derek Albers, senior, pitcher
Jasper Blundre, senior, pitcher
Carter Hodapp, senior, pitcher
Lars Prestemon, senior, catcher
Joe Pesta, senior, pitcher and 1st base
Blake Christensen, junior, infield
Michael Ims, junior, pitcher
Luke Johnson, junior, pitcher
Mitchell Stanchina, junior
Jim Vitito, junior, DH and outfield
Mason Zick, junior, pitcher