It’s a different ball game at Immanuel Lutheran this spring.
The Lancers go into the season without Levi Schaller, who hurled the team to 37 wins over the last four seasons.
“It’s a different formula without Levi,” said Joe Lau, heading into his 22nd season with a 258-173 record. “My hope is that we can develop enough pitchers who can throw strikes.
“We just have to wait and see who steps forward so we can get an order down.”
Mainly behind the slants of Schaller, who is seeing innings at Winona State this spring, the Lancers have won the Small Dairyland Conference twice and were runners-up twice in the past four years, including last year.
In the mix on the mound are several candidates, few with any extended experience.
“We have four freshman pitchers with potential,” Lau said. “And we’re looking for help from others.”
One of the freshmen is Christian Schaller, Levi’s younger brother. The others are Austin Williams, Britten Rutz and Jonah Mueller.
Noah Sydow, veteran first baseman who batted .404 last year, is expected to help along with outfielder Gabe Plath, who has been injured. Even three-year catcher Seth Miller, who batted .313 and gained all-conference honors along with Sydow, could get some innings.
“We have a lot of experience on the infield,” Lau said, “and I hope we hit the ball better than last year.”
Lau is working with Sydow at first, three-year veteran Joey Bailey – a .313 hitter – at second, Ryan Zimmerman is back at short with Schaller and Ethan Sydow in the picture at third.
James Sullivan is back in the outfield and is joined by Plath, Mueller, Williams and Livi Wittorp.
“It’s going to come down to who can hit,” Lau said.
Lau says he has a balance of young and old and is pleased with the amount of experience his freshmen have had coming in.
The Lancers went 15-7 last year, losing in sectional play to Thorp.
Seniors – Seth Miller, c; Noah Sydow, 1b; James Sullivan, of; Gabe Plath,of/p; Steven Krause, dh.
Juniors – Joey Bailey, 2b; Levi Wittorp, of.
Sophomores – Ethan Sydow, 3b; Ryan Zimmerman, ss.
Freshmen – Christian Schaller if/p; Austin Williams, of/p; Britten Rutz, if/p; Jonah Mueller, of/p.
April 1, at Fall Creek, 5 p.m.; 2, at Independence/Gilmanton, 5 p.m.; 5, at Whitehall, 5 p.m.; 9, at Augusta, 5 p.m.; 11, Melrose-Mindoro, 5 p.m., at Immanuel; 12, at Blair-Taylor, 5 p.m.; 15, Lincoln, 5 p.m., Carson Park; 22, Elmwood, 7 p.m., Carson; 23, at Cochrane-Fountain City, 5 p.m.; 26, Eleva-Strum, 4:30 p.m., Carson; 29, Independence/Gilmanton, 5 p.m., Carson.
May 2, Whitehall, 5 p.m., at Immanuel; 3, Augusta, 5 p.m., Carson; 7, at Melrose-Mindoro, 4:30 p.m.; 10, Blair-Taylor, 5 p.m., Carson; 11, at Colfax, 9 a.m.; 13, at Lincoln, 5 p.m.; 16, Cochrane-Fountain City, 5:30 p.m., at Immanuel; 20, Mondovi, 7:30 p.m., Carson; 21, at Eleva-Strum, 5 p.m.