Lakers look to rebuild with young core

Lakeview baseball preview 2024

Photo courtesy of Devereaux Photography The 2024 Lakeview baseball team includes (front row, left to right): Oliver Marquart, Tucker Fiene, Landyn Listul, Gavin Manning, Brooks Smith, Chase Vogel, Easton Schmidt, Blake Peltier. Back row: Kyler Post, Joseph Caron, Jace Danielson, Dakota Cowell, Braylon Breyfogle, Jared Louwagie, Karson NelsonDylan Caron, Logan Herrick. The team is coached by Curt Schake with assistant coach Tim Helgeson.

COTTONWOOD — The Lakeview baseball team graduated a large group of impactful players at the end of last season. This year’s group, however, features just three seniors but seven freshmen. As a result, growth and improvement will be key measuring sticks for the Lakers’ season.

Last time around, the Lakers finished their season with a 7-10 record. After picking up a 6-0 win over No. 4 Lac qui Parle Valley in the first round of the section tournament, the No. 5 Lakers were bounced to the elimination bracket with a 21-0 loss to top-seeded Yellow Medicine East.

Lakeview defeated third-seeded Dawson-Boyd 8-7 to start the elimination bracket but lost 7-4 to No. 6 Tracy-Milroy-Balaton in their second elimination game, ending their season.

Last year’s team had some strong bats at the top of the lineup. Caine Herigon finished the year with a 1.360 OPS while Jordan Fischer and Taiven Isaackson each were above 1.000. Yet, none of the team’s top 5 players in the stat return this year, leaving ample opportunity for younger players to step up into a larger role.

Braylon Breyfogle and Tucker Fiene return as two of the team’s stronger bats from last season. Breyfogle and Fiene ranked fourth and fifth in batting average last year at .250 and .240. The two were also notable for their plate discipline; Fiene’s 11 walks were a team-high while Breyfogle’s 10 were third behind Fiene and Ayden St. Pierre.

While the duo were effective in their ability to reach base, the Lakers need to find some more pop at the plate this year. Of the 11 players who played at least one game for the Lakers last year, Fiene, Vogel and Dylan Caron are the only returners. While each of the three had their moments, none had an extra-base hit last season. Through their first three games this year, the Lakers have still not hit anything further than a single.

Among the key additions to this year’s squad is pitcher Kyler Post. While he didn’t get varsity work last season, he’s pitched 6 2/3 of the Lakers’ 16 2/3 innings so far this season. Fiene and Breyfogle have each also pitched this season, but Breyfogle’s one inning on the hill last year is the only prior varsity pitching experience on the roster.

As with anything, growing pains are to be expected with a young and largely inexperienced team. Still, the extent to which the Lakers can develop pitching and defense is going to be a sticking point for how good this team can be. Even with last year’s strong top of the lineup leading the team to consistent offensive success,

Fiene is one of three seniors on the team, alongside Oliver Marquart and Joseph Caron. With such a young group — the team also features four sophomores in addition to the large freshman class — the trio will provide some key veteran leadership for the team.

Lakeview has gotten off to an 0-3 start to the season, getting shut out in two of the three games and allowing eight or more runs to each of their opponents.

Early on, Breyfogle, Fiene and Brooks Smith were the offensive catalysts for the team. Fiene and Breyfogle have batted .286 and .333 respectively while Smith has put together a .571 on-base percentage. Breyfogle also drove in the team’s lone RBI so far this season.

Jared Louwagie has also gotten off to a promising start, hitting for a team-best .833 OPS through his first four at-bats of the year.

The Lakers will look to start changing momentum in their favor when they go on the road to face Renville County West for their next game on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.


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