Team: HS baseball
Coach: Dave Lane
Assistants: Tim Masters and John Landskroener
Conf: Minnesota River
Section: 4A – 23 teams
2012 finish: LHS finished 10-12 in the 2012 season, tied for last place in the MRC with Tri-City United, despite having a 5-9 conference record.
In the Section 4A tournament, the Crusaders won their first two games before they were eliminated in losses to St. Agnes and Southwest Christian.
Key losses: Missing from this year’s roster are 2012’s 11 seniors including All-Conference player Grant Noennig, Adam Kohls (left field), Erich Strehlke (catcher), Logan Radde (pitcher), and Mark Struble (first base), along with William Janke, Sam Koch, Stephen Zahrte, Luke Zacharias, Ehren Kuphal, and Devin Lillienthal.
Key returnees: The team’s leading hitter last season, senior Tanner Luebke, will return to the pitching mound this season for the Crusaders, along with the team’s No. 2 hitter in senior Aaron Luehrs. Both played mid-infield positions as well, and are expected to lead the team this season. Also back for LHS are seniors Lincoln Biermann, Jacob Struble, Phil Burfeind, and Joshua Parrish, along with juniors Cole Buttenhoff and Joel Burfeind.
Team breakdown: The Crusaders are very heavy in the bookend grades, including eight seniors and seven freshman. It’s in the middle that hurts, with just four juniors and three sophomores out for the team this season.
Teams to beat: Lane said last season was the most balanced he had ever seen the MRC, as was evident by the three-way tie for fourth place and the tie for seventh. He expects this season to be similar. Depending on players that return, Lane said Norwood Young America could be a formidable threat, while Jordan has always had a strong program. Tri-City United, who combines with Le Center, is now the biggest in the conference. When it comes down to the 23-team Section 4A, Lane said defending state champion St. Agnes and also West Lutheran are the two best teams in the section. Legacy Academy and Southwest Christian also boast strong programs and could threaten Mayer Lutheran’s hopes of a section title game.
Goals: Lane said his personal goals include improving the team’s conference record. The Crusaders have struggled in the conference in recent seasons and are hoping to make a change.
In reality, the Crusaders have had just one winning season (2010) since 2006, including single digit wins in 2006-08 and 2011.
In addition, Lane is looking to find a few more solid pitchers for LHS. He said Luebke is an established pitcher already and he is confident the team can win with him on the mound, but wants to find those next two pitchers about whom the team can feel the same.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com