Coach Heiderscheit's thoughts: "We want to compete in every game we play; we will put a good team out there and our expectations are that we will be in every game. ... I like this team. They played a lot of baseball last summer; we have kids who have experience on the mound and have experienced success, so that should help. These guys work hard at practice. If they battle at the plate, we will have a good team."
"As far as pure baseball knowledge goes, Jake is up there with the best I've ever coached," JM coach Dutch Heiderscheit said. "He understands the game as good as any high school kid I've coached."
Coach Heiderscheit's thoughts: "We have a bunch of guys that really like baseball. They work hard, and they played well last summer and got to the Legion state tournament and played competitive baseball against good teams. We have lost some good guys from the team last spring, so we will see how they step into new roles this season. We have some good young players that will compete for spots. The conference and region look improved this year, so we will have to be ready to go as soon as things dry up outside."
Rochester John Marshall senior Alex Brady joined the Rockets varsity baseball team as a freshman.
Since Day 1, Brady has been a regular in the JM lineup. But there's been nothing regular about where he's played on the field.
During the last three seasons, Brady has started games at all nine positions on the baseball diamond.
Coach Heiderscheit's thoughts: "I really like our team. We should improve as the season progresses. The seniors are going to have to have good seasons if we are going to be competitive in the always tough Big Nine."
With all of the thanks he was offering up, it was as if Ryan Lakin had just received an award.
But you can see his point. Lakin, a pitcher/third baseman currently starring for the Rochester Patriots American Legion baseball team, has been a do-everything athlete —and at a high level — for a long time. The 2012 John Marshall graduate was a high school rarity: a varsity starter since his sophomore year in three sports. That's baseball, hockey and football.
Coach Heiderscheit's thoughts: "These guys are working hard and look to be a pretty competitive team. Like with most teams, we will need to throw strikes and make routine plays to be in ball games. We have looked pretty good hitting in practice, so we are hoping that continues. In the Big Nine, depending on pitching matchups, anyone can beat you on a given day. The region looks to be competitive. By that time of year, all kids have had plenty of practice and teams have improved to a point where if you do the little things, anyone can win and go deep into the region. Last year we got to the Final Four in Red Wing and played a couple of competitive games but came up on the short end each time. That can happen. Our goal is to be playing our best baseball come region tournament time and see where it takes us."
Where the Rockets fit in the Big Nine race: “I’m not sure yet,” Heiderscheit said. “On a given day, I think we should be able to compete with all of the teams. But until we find out how much pitching depth we have, it is tough to say how we’ll do day in and day out.”
Heiderscheit’s overall thoughts: “It’s always fun, and this season should be no different. The guys are working hard at practice and seem to be enjoying it, so that should pay dividends. as the season progresses.”
Coach Heiderscheit’s thoughts: “Look for Mayo, Century, Owatonna and West to be tough in the conference this year, and the other teams should be better, too. It will be a good conference race this year. We will have some untested players that need to step up if they want to win. Our pitching looks deep. Besides Hovick and Mone, we have Brian Anderson and Andrew Roble who are both good pitcher. We have a great bunch of guys, and they are working hard. This should be a fun season for the Rockets."
“They probably won’t realize what a great season they had today or even tomorrow, but they’ll understand it some day," Heiderscheit said.
A 10-day layoff didn’t seem to help the hot-hitting Rockets. JM had been averaging more than 10 runs per game over their past 20 contests. But the Rockets were held to just three runs and 14 hits in two state tournament games.
Despite the cold bats, the Rockets were in both games. But errors proved costly.
2007 outlook: The Rockets lost some key players at key positions, namely Tim Oesterlin at third base, Nate Dunfee at shortstop, Scott Steege at catcher, Jerry Mock at first base and top pitcher John Magee. Still, the Rockets return a great deal of talent and experience. Leadoff hitter Erik Knutson led the team in most statistical categories last season, including home runs (eight), stolen bases (12), batting average (.477), runs scored (43) and on-base percentage (.532). He is pro prospect who will start in center field. Left fielder Adam Wiesner also returns. He’s speedy and has a great glove. Wiesner will hit in the two hole this season. After Magee, Spencer Brady was the team’s top pitcher a year ago. He returns, and coach Terry Heiderscheit expects big things from Brady in 2007. He also can play in the outfield. Also back are Matt Armstrong (pitcher, first base), Brad Yetzer (second base) and Kellen Anderson (outfield, pitcher). Heiderscheit also expects Pat Kingsley, Travis Meyer, Eric Norvet, Reid Neumann, Ben Krolak, Brian Ness and Jordan Rishavy to compete for playing time.
This year: John Marshall has eight letterwinners back this year, including some good multi-sport athletes. The hitting might be the Rockets' strong point. Nate Dunfee, who was one of the leading hitters in the Big Nine Conference last year with a .452 average, will probably be the shortstop this year. Last year's shortstop, John Magee, is a junior and looks like he will be one of the main pitchers, along with senior Steve Eagan. Magee hit .373 in conference play last year and "will play somewhere when he's not pitching," said Heiderscheit. Sophomores Matt Armstrong and Erik Knutson will get the nod for a lot of the remaining pitching duty. Freshman Spencer Brady might also get some innings.
Another freshman, Ben Kall, is looking to catch.
Top returnees: Seven letterwinners are back, five of them seniors and two of them pitchers. Tom Corcoran and Greg Polt, plus catcher Ben Schafer, outfielder Sam Steffen and catcher/outfielder Joe Ellerbusch.
Outlook: The Rockets have 10 players back from last year, but Hawkinson, Holt and White have the most experience.
Big Nine: The Rockets might start slow, but should finish a least in the middle of the pack in the conference. Heiderscheit says the conference is balanced and if his team doesn't play a pretty good game every time out, it will be hard to win.
The Rockets have 10 seniors, but few of them have much experience. There is still competition for starting positions and some players will likely be playing different positions than in the past.
Big Nine -- Heiderscheit; isn't familiar yet with the conference, but said he knows Century and Mayo always have strong programs and that Albert Lea has a good lefthander the Rockets will have to face right away.
Heiderscheit, 41, will replace Darrin Schmidt as head coach of the John Marshall baseball program in a move confirmed this week by Gary Addington, director of athletics for Rochester's public schools.
"Initially I thought that I would really want to coach my girls, but now as I get older, I see that that's not such a huge thing," Heiderscheit explained. "They're learning that they're going to do their own thing whether dad is with them or not.
Darrin Schmidt's 1st Year: If the Rockets get the pitching that is expected, they might contend for the Big Nine title. Hitting should be a strong point, but perhaps the team's biggest asset will be its speed. There are some quick players and a good junior class to back up the returning players. Schmidt has an abundance of infielders and may convert outfielder Todd Hangge to second base. Hangge, a star hockey player along with Kanz, hit the ball well last summer. The Rockets will have to overcome a tough start on the road. JM's first nine games are on the road, with the first home game on April 24th. Then there is only one more road trip the rest of the season.
Outlook: On paper, John Marshall is tough. The Rockets' main task is to find hitters to replace Jay and Jeff Priebe, Jim Smith and Brandon Kanz. Coach Everson thinks there will be enough hitting, as long as the team defense tightens up. The Rockets look solid there, with experience behind the plate in Chad Raymond, solid infielders and talented Aaron Jaeger in center. Pitching also looks good, with Brian Koch, Nick Boland and Nick Matti back. All three pitched well last season and in summer ball. Plus, there are some good underclassmen in the wings. Quote: ``We're very optimistic, but of course, I always am. We have to replace the hitting. We led the conference in hitting two of the last three years.'' John Marshall coach Tom Everson
Outlook: Should be contender in tough Big Nine Conference. The Rockets have solid pitching, despite losing their top four pitchers from last year's team. Brandon Kanz was outstanding in American Legion baseball last summer. Some inexperience may cost the Rockets in the early going, but if the pitching and defense perform as expected, JM will have another good year. The Rockets were second in the Big Nine last year with a 13-7 regular-season record.
Pitching: The above-mentioned pitchers should provide a solid pitching staff for the Rockets and are being counted on heavily this season. Other prospects include left-handers Matt Bollig, a senior, and juniors Billy O'Reilly and Ben Johns. O'Reilly also throws lefty. Outlook: The catcher's job is up for grabs since the graduation of two-year starter Todd Stellmaker. Junior Jeff Levin is looking like the starter when the season opens. He is also a pitcher. Everson says he expects the team to be in the Big Nine race, and he expects that every year. He says the Rockets were not that far away last year, even with a losing record. Everson says Mankato West, Austin and Winona are going to be strong this season. Mankato West won the Big Nine last year and has eight of the nine starters back.
Both Mayo and JM even have a date in the Metrodome, JM against Mankato East and Mayo against Austin on April 20. Mayo