Strong off-season helps baseball team

David Nelson, Staff Writer

After months of cold weather, shoveling snow, and playing ball inside a dome, the baseball season has finally arrived, and the Red Knights are excited for the season to get underway.

The team has spent its off-season working out, hoping to prepare for the season, which features games against tough teams around the metro such as Edina, Hopkins, and Cooper. “Since October, [senior captain] Joe Melles and I went twice a week to Hamline University to workout. [Senior captain] Jimmy Heck also found time to play baseball even though he played basketball at Hamline. It’s probably the most I’ve ever been ready for a baseball season before,” said senior Marcus Barone.

The Red Knights lost early in sections last year to Bloomington Kennedy, but they look to perform better in the playoffs this season. “I think we have a good chance at making it to State this year with all the seniors and many of us putting in a lot of hard work over this winter, so hopefully it will all pay off. Especially as a senior, I have watched us lose our first round game in sections for the last four years. So I, as well as many of us other seniors, have a lot of drive to get passed that and make the state tournament,” said Heck.

Last year may have ended in disappointment for the Red Knights, but they are excited to start playing again. “We want to get better and have fun and, most of all, get to state. We feel like we have the pieces to do it, so we’re expecting big things this year,” said Melles.

One of those pieces includes pitcher Jimmy Heck, who looks to build off of the 3.38 ERA he accumulated last season. “I’d say I had a good year last year, but there is always room to improve. This year, the biggest improvement I hope to make is pitching better in big games and in every game I pitch. My goal is always to pitch well enough to give us a chance to win,” said Heck.

The Red Knights remain cautiously optimistic, realizing that there is still plenty of work to be done before tournament time. “We need to work to work on team chemistry, which we didn’t have last year. However, I feel like this year we have a great group of seniors and younger guys who will get the job done. We have the pieces to do it, we just have to keep working hard and getting better to put those pieces together,” said Melles.

The team appears ready to get back to baseball and start down the road towards a state tournament bid. “It’s going to take a team effort because baseball is a team game. If everyone plays to their potential this year, we should win our conference and hopefully do well in sections. This year should be fun and we’re all hungry to win something,” said Barone.