Team: Waconia baseball
Head coach: Mark Grundhofer
Assistant coaches: Collin Bender, Ben Smothers, Josh Sell, and Terry Gammell
Conference: Wright County
Division: East – Delano, Holy Family, Hutch, Mound-Westonka, and Orono
2012 finish: Last season, the Wildcats finish 12-7 overall and fourth in the WCC. Their biggest streak was a seven-game winning run in late April and early May, defeating many of the conference teams. The season ended in the first round of sections, in a 1-0 loss to Mankato West on May 26.
Key losses: Waconia lost four seniors last year, including All-Conference pitcher Dalton Sawyer, All-Conference second baseman Charlie Klos, All-Conference Honorable Mention shortstop Alex Schmitt, and center fielder Logan Baumann.
“That’s what I’m missing, right up the middle,” he said.
Also missing from action this season is junior Tommy Gove, who is recovering from a basketball injury.
“It’s going to hurt me more than the basketball team,” Grundhofer said.
Between Gove and the graduates, the Wildcats are missing most of their top hitters and scorers from 2012.
Key returnees: Seniors Dan Butz, Josh Lenz, Mitch Green, Cody Clark, and Cole Hanson will lead this year’s team and have all made contributions to the Wildcat squad in years past from the pitching mound to the outfield. Lenz, Butz, and varsity veteran Dylan Lindner will lead the team from the pitching mound, while Grundhofer expects Butz to lead the hitters.
Also returning is catcher Nick Hukriede and right fielder Cody Tucker.
Teams to beat: Although nearly every team in the conference graduated at least a handful of seniors last season, Grundhofer expects the WCC to be a toss up on the “big” school side.
Holy Family Catholic returns as defending 2012 Class AA state champions and also won the WCC last season. Delano finished second in the WCC and also qualified for the state tournament, finishing fifth.
Grundhofer said the deciding factor in the conference this season will be team depth.
“If you don’t have the depth, you’re not going to win games,” he said.
Goals: While the team hasn’t set specific goals yet this season, Grundhofer will stand by his annual goal.
“My personal goal every year is to win ten games and be better than .500,” he said.
Certainly attainable, the Wildcats have had .500-plus seasons the last two years.
First games: With the slow spring melt, it’s unlikely the Wildcats will get to play their first games on time, Grundhofer said. But nonetheless, the team will be ready. The Wildcats are scheduled to open the season at home on April 9 against Hutchinson, before hitting the road April 12-13 at section opponents Shakopee and Minnetonka. Waconia will host Delano April 16.
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