Eau Claire (WQOW) -- When it's twenty degrees and there's still plenty of snow on the ground, it's not easy to be thinking baseball, but that's what high school teams have been doing, as practices began on March 24.
Eau Claire Memorial made it to the WIAA Division 1 sectional last season. The Old Abes only have two seniors on the roster, but the core of last year's team returns. All in all, there are fewer players out for baseball this season, and head coach Dave Sparger hopes that everyone will get a good chance to see the field.
"It was a real nice change, you know last year was very tough. We had 62 kids try out and we just couldn't carry that many. And that's the worst thing about being a coach at this kind of stuff having to make those decisions, bringing the numbers down where they are manageable. And fortunately for us everyone is out, everyone is excited, and looks like everyone gets to play some baseball this year."
"We're really young and talented," says Memorial senior infielder Nick Petersen, "we have two seniors coming back just me and [pitcher/infielder Dalton] Roach, and we have a lot of returning juniors. So we're going to be really young, really talented, and excited."
Memorial is scheduled to open its season versus New Richmond, at Mauston, on Friday, April 4.
Eau Claire North also made it to the Division 1 sectional last season. Eau Claire North also made it to the Division 1 sectional last season. The Huskies return a strong senior class. The immediate goals are getting the most out of the early season practices and identifying leaders.
"Leadership is not something where you're going to say 'I'm going to wake up tomorrow and be a leader.' You have to have traits and you have to have qualities," says North head coach Bob Johnson, "and have to have a way that you do things so that players will follow you. So I think that is going to be a work in progress for us, and I think our whole roster can lead us this season."
"The lighting is tough," says North senior first baseman Bryce Kamenick about the challenges of practicing indoors, "when you're playing catch and taking grounders you do not get a true hop all of the time. It's hard to hit in the cage because of the backdrop, so it's pretty tough."
North is scheduled to open its season on Tuesday, April 8, when the Huskies host Onalaska.
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