Reporting Shane Kitzman
Before I could get the remainder of the word “year” out of my mouth as part of the question “What are you goals this year?” senior Matt Hopfner cut me off.
“State championship,” he swiftly responded. “I think we have a pretty good starting rotation with good relief pitchers. If we make it to state, our pitching is deep enough to make a run.”
The Edina Hornets have two stellar arms atop their rotation with Hopfner’s 6-foot-2-inch, 190-pound frame attending Northwestern University next year on a Division I scholarship. Not to be outdone, teammate Mitch Larson will be going D-I to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Edina will need to channel that strength on the mound – and its 2012 American Legion summer championship – in order to take the high school state title this spring.
And they’ll want to forget last spring’s early exit from the section playoffs.
“We went one-and-out and lost to Richfield 1-0 in the first section game,” said Hopfner, a pitcher/outfielder.
With his team currently 3-2 and finally playing outdoors, the 18-year-old took time to talk part-time jobs (what could be better than working at the batting cages?), and which recruiting firm helped him end up at Northwestern.
How sweet was it winning the Legion title last summer?
Growing up, we always made it pretty far in the state tournament in traveling baseball. But finally getting to be No. 1 — especially after beating Eden Prairie — that meant a lot.
If he’s wearing headphones, JT is probably pumping through them
I’ve been a fan of Justin Timberlake lately, especially of his comeback. I like his new album a lot because it sounds like his old stuff. It’s good to see he kept the same style.
Elite Sports Advising got Hopfner’s name out there in the recruiting scene
It worked perfectly for me. There’s no way I would have had the opportunity at Northwestern without it. They sent my recruiting video to Northwestern, and the coaches knew who I was when I went to camp there (last summer).
I then came back to campus for an official visit, went to the football game against Boston College, stayed with some players, and they offered me a scholarship.
Sharp in the classroom (3.7 GPA), he’s ready for the academic rigors of Northwestern
It’s going to be really tough, but I think Edina prepares kids really well for the next stage — everything form AP classes, to a rigorous curriculum. They help instill that work ethic you need in college.
I’m not sure what my major will be, though. I have no idea.
Flirting with playing time at Northwestern next year isn’t out of the question
They didn’t say I was going to start as freshman. But I’ve been tracking their games and coach said he likes to throw his freshman in both the outfield and relief pitching to the test how they do.
Who gets the credit for his athletic success story? Everyone, apparently
I couldn’t name one person, but it all starts with my family. My dad (Doug) especially. He had high expectations for me, and motivated me to be the best I could be. Also, my coaches and teammates growing up – I’ve always had the same teammates.
Oh, and Mitch Hanson has always been great because we push each other to be the best we can be.
Working at Players Only Inc. is time well spent
There’s an indoor batting cage facility at Players Only Inc. and I work behind the desk year-round. I also coach in their summer league program during the mornings for 8 to 12 year olds.
I can use the facility whenever I want, and it’s something my teammates and I take advantage of.
Know of a better story? Email Shane and tell him about it.