Back to the Ballpark

Abraham Havelka, Writer

Second place. The Owatonna Boys Baseball Team is sick and tired of coming up short. The team has lost in the section title game to the Northfield Raiders in 2014 and the Lakeville North Panthers in 2015. This year, the team looks to make a change. Senior captain Kodey Kiel stated, ”We need to get over the hump and win the section.” The team is filled with underclass talent with six of the nine starters being juniors.  Along with these juniors, the team has a couple of experienced players to lead the mighty Husky pack. With a two and two start to the season, the Huskies have a couple of big conference games coming up in the next week including a game this Tuesday, Apr. 18 at home against Mankato West.

Senior captain Ben Staska gets ready for a pitch in his first at bat of the season.

The first game of the year was against a strong Red Wing team. The Huskies faced an experienced left handed pitcher that has had success throughout the conference.  Deep into a glorious night at the ballpark, Owatonna head coach Tate Cummins decided to call up Kiel, one of the most dominant pitchers in the conference, putting him into the game to close out the last two innings. Head coach Tate Cummins commented, “When the game is on the line you typically want athletes that are willing to accept the challenge.” Kiel dominated the sixth inning with a couple of strikeouts and some help from his infielders to close out the game. “He’s (Kiel) a gamer”, said Cummins.

It was a strong start to the season, but the team was humbled after a tough loss to a star pitcher out of Winona. He racked up nine K’s and completed the game just allowing one run in the second inning of that game. Not hitting the ball that night lead to some uncommon mistakes in the field. The team had quite a few errors that lead to the Win hawks scoring the game winning runs. The final score was 7-1 and sent the Huskies packing. They looked to bounce back against the Albert Lea Tigers, a team that the Huskies have pounced on in the past but fell short against once again. Then, the Huskies had their third game of the week at the US Bank Stadium. “It was a cool atmosphere but we just tried to play like it was any other game.” -Kiel  After back-to-back losses, they put the ace back on the bump. Kiel tossed a complete game shutout and only allowed two hits. The Huskies won 3-0 and played strong that night on the glistening turf.

Knowing that the team is filled with talent across the board, the Huskies are just moments away from showing what they are capable of. “We have the talent, we just need to put it all together,” said Kiel. They look to assert themselves in the next couple of weeks with some big conference wins. The next game will be played at Dartts Park this Tuesday, Apr. 18 at 5:30 p.m. against Mankato West.