MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Twins opening day was Thursday, and the high school baseball season is also getting underway.
It’s that special time of year when the field is still a little soggy, but the spirits, and the hopes, are high.
WCCO-TV caught up with last year’s state champs, the Mahtomedi Zephyrs, about the season ahead.
It was a long time coming for Mahtomedi. They had been to state five years in a row.
“Those kids, it’s a lifetime achievement for a lot of them. And just to be rewarded at the end, it was tremendous for us,” said Coach Rob Garry.
But a lot of them are not back this year. Mahtomedi was very senior-heavy last year with 14 seniors — with seven of them starters. So it’s largely a new group that’s working to defend their title this year.
“We’re not looking to replace the 14 seniors we had last year. We’re looking to use the same approach game in and game out, and get ready for the season in the same way. Our kids this year are just as excited as the kids were last year,” Garry said.
And though most weren’t starters, many on this year’s team were involved in not just last year’s championship, but the past several years’ state tournament runs. And that’s certainly going to help.
“There is experience there. There’s a lot of baseball experience in our roster, kids who have played a lot of baseball over the years. And so if they don’t turn up the volume too much on the stress level playing at the next level, then they should be alright,” he said.
What they don’t feel, Garry says, is pressure. They might have a new target on their back, but that’s not how they’re approaching it.
“Kids … text and they tweet and they’re like, ‘repeat,’ and ‘2019,’ and things like that, and it’s fun to say, but luck is involved and things like that, and balls have to bounce your way, and all the proverbial clichés that you hear in baseball have to happen. So I don’t foresee it as this year we have a target on our back any more that we have in years’ past,” Garry said. “It’s a new group of kids that have something else to prove, the coaching staff is always looking to improve, so if we’re going to see somebody’s number one every game, that’s just going to make us better in May.”
With the ultimate goal, of course, of being number one again in June.