Area Male Athlete: Nordean doing it all for Aitkin
Drew Nordean Year: Senior School: Aitkin Sport: Baseball Position: Catcher Highlights: Finished 3-4 with a triple and four RBIs against Pine City Drew Nordean's season goals may surprise some, but as captain of the Aitkin Gobblers baseball team, ...
Highlights: Finished 3-4 with a triple and four RBIs against Pine City
Drew Nordean's season goals may surprise some, but as captain of the Aitkin Gobblers baseball team, they seem to be working.
Nordean, a senior catcher and pitcher for the 5-1 Gobblers, is making sure he and his teammates have fun and grow as teammates. They know a possible state berth is in the cards, but it's not a goal.
"I think we're just going to try to have fun this year and not worry about it," said Nordean. "I guess we'll just let the scoreboard take care of itself. If we're playing well, hitting well and playing good defense, we'll be fine."
Nordean has hit the ball hard, but it wasn't until a 12-2 Great River Conference pounding of Pine City April 21 that things started to fall. Nordean went 3-4 with a triple and four RBIs.
"He doesn't strike out much and he won't strike out much all year," Aitkin head coach Jeremy Janzen said. "He's a great contact hitter. He's really dedicated himself to the weight room. He's gotten stronger. So he's hit a lot of balls hard.
"Early in the season he had four outs where he hit line drives right to people. They didn't even have to move. He has hit the ball harder than anyone so if you stay on that it's going to happen. They're going to go through and they started to go through and he had a really nice game against Pine City. He hit the ball hard everywhere."
Nordean, who hits third in Aitkin's lineup, said Pine City threw a pitcher that was throwing what he wanted to see. But since that game he's gone 1-3 with a double and two RBIs in a 13-0 win over Rush City Tuesday and went 1-3 with two RBIs in a 12-0 victory over Greenway Wednesday.
"He's just a good hitter. No matter if you throw him off-speed or a fastball," Janzen said. "There aren't many guys who are going to get a fastball by him. He's a smart enough hitter to recognize off-speed so he's a tough out. He's a really tough out in that spot and typically one of your better hitters is your No. 3."
In a season-opening 18-0 victory over Ogilvie, Nordean finished 1-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored. More important was his management of Hunter Sanford, Logan Cluff and Sam Peterson. The three pitchers combined for a no-hitter. They totaled 11 strikeouts and one walk.
"I wasn't really thinking about the no-hitter at the time, I think we won that won 18-0," Nordean said. "I just wanted the guys to throw strikes, put the ball in play and see how our defense worked."
Janzen called Nordean one of the best defensive catchers he's had in his six years as head coach. The three-year varsity player is no slouch on the mound either according to Janzen. Nordean has good command of four pitches with good velocity, Janzen said.
"Not only is he a great catcher, but he's a guy on the mound that we're going to lean on," Janzen said.
And this is another area where Nordean's leadership comes into play.
"My expectations of him was we were going to need him on the mound, too." Janzen said. "He is going to be one of our top guys throwing. I needed his help in grooming a couple of junior catchers, who are doing a nice job for us, because when Drew pitches he can't catch and the day after he pitches he's not going to catch either so he'll DH or play first base for us. He's really taken it upon himself to groom those younger catchers and make them better."
As for personal goals, Nordean has a few. He said he wants to keep getting better in all aspects of the game and he's enjoying picking off runners attempting to steal on him. But his top priority is:
"I just want to be a good captain," said Nordean. "I just want to lead my guys into battle every game and every day in practice. I want to make it fun and have a good season."
Other notable performances:
Baseball: Thomas Miller, Little Falls, finished 3-4 with a home run and three RBIs and also pitched five innings of a no-hit victory against Zimmerman.
Joe Anderson, Pillager, went 3-4 with two doubles, four RBIs and two runs against Crosby-Ironton.
Chad Christianson, Pequot Lakes, finished 4-5 with five RBIs, a double and a home run in two games against Pine River-Backus.
Golf: Andrew Israelson, Staples-Motley, won the Detroit Lakes Invite, Pequot Lakes Invite and Perham Invite last week.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or email@example.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .