Baseball: Older Warriors hope to surprise this spring
The Brainerd Warrior baseball preview for 2023
BRAINERD — A veteran group returns to the diamond for the Brainerd Warriors.
Eleven seniors make up the roster for head coach Trent Grams’ fifth season with a lot of experience.
“This is a heavy senior group that has been together since I first got here,” Grams said. “The fact that they are now seniors and getting to watch them grow for the last three or four years has been super rewarding and now this is it for them. They are pushing each other and they are being leaders amongst themselves.”
Senior pitcher and infielder Isaac Hanson highlights the returners along with catcher Jon Benson, third baseman Mitch Brau and outfielder Brody Lund.
“Those four probably had the most innings and playing time that we have coming back out of all our seniors,” Grams said. “They can carry over all the experience they had as juniors over into this year. We are leaning on these fours and hopefully, everyone else can feed off of them.”
Those four guys also were at the top of the lineup for Grams last year which he said is exciting.
“We need to get production from those guys and from the other guys like Sawyer Hennessey, Cayden Brown and Henry Hopkins,” Grams said. “The juniors are pushing them pretty hard. We know offensively we are not a power-hitting team, but we want to do whatever it takes to get on base.”
Hanson is committed to St. Cloud State University while Benson is going to play baseball at the University of Sioux Falls next year. Catcher and first baseman Wyatt Gabrielson is another senior for Brianerd playing college baseball next year at St. Olaf College.
“We hope to get a productive season out of Wyatt Gabrielson as well,” Grams said.
The Warriors also have nine juniors who Grams is excited about. Brannon Amundson, Eli Hoelz and Keaton Lingenfelter should all see meaningful time on the field.
“We have been getting a good look at all nine of our juniors,” Grams said. “We really like what Brannon Amundson, Eli Hoelz and Keaton Lingenfelter are doing right now. Those three have really stepped up as leaders of the junior class and have a chance to compete for varsity innings.”
Outfielder Eric Eidenshink and pitcher Sawyer Hennessey are two other seniors who saw meaningful time last year. Hennessey will likely fit in as the No. 2 starter behind Hanson to start the season.
“Along with Hanson and Hennessey, Brody Lund pitched a lot for us last year,” Grams said. “Eli Hoelz is someone we are hoping can step up as a junior pitcher as well as Brannon Amundson and Keaton Lingenfelter. Seniors Cayden Brown and Henry Hopkins are guys who can step in. We will get a good look at around eight or nine pitchers this spring that can all give us good innings this spring.
“We have senior leadership in the outfield with Eidenshink and Lund which is important. We are looking to find two or three more outfielders that we can platoon in and see who that third or fourth outfielder can be to help us win games. Eidenshink and Lund though stepped up last year as two of our best defensive outfielders.”
In the infield, Grams likes how interchangeable a lot of his players are.
“I like how mobile we are,” Grams said. “We are hoping to move a lot of guys around the infield this year with Hanson, Brau, Gabrielson and Benson. With Benson and Gabrielson doing the bulk of our catching, one of them will probably play first base. Cayden Brown and Sawyer Henneseey are both guys who when they aren’t pitching can play somewhere else too. It’s a fun group because they have all been doing this their whole life and it’s a pitching-heavy senior class, so one of the exciting things is watching these guys fill in for their buddy when they aren’t on the mound.”
The Warriors are coming off a 7-14 season last year where they went 6-7 in the Central Lakes Conference. Brainerd opens its season Tuesday, April 11, at home against Fergus Falls weather permitting.
“We are just excited about competing,” Grams said. “We talk about it all the time. We know that this is a process and we are not going to get too caught up in getting out of the gate fast and playing our best baseball right away. If we can understand that this is going to take a little while and that we need to find the right chemistry and mix. The goal is to be playing our best baseball by the end of the year. This is a group that we hope to compete with at the end of the season.”
Seniors: Henry Hopkins, Cayden Brown, Mitchell Brau, Isaac Hanson, Sawyer Hennessey, Brody Lund, Jonathan Benson, Wyatt Gabrielson, Eric Eidenshink, Eli Owen, Hayden Olson.
Juniors: Brannon Amundson, Eli Hoelz, Peter Breitbach, Ethan Carlson, Asher Borle, Keaton Lingenfelter, Chase Tretter
Tuesday, April 11: hosts Fergus Falls, 5 p.m.
April 13: at Alexandria, 5 p.m.
April 14: hosts Duluth East, 4:30 p.m.
April 18: hosts Sartell, 5 p.m.
April 20: hosts Sauk Rapids, 5 p.m.
April 25: at Willmar (2), 4 p.m.
April 27: at St. Cloud, 5 p.m.
April 29: at Moorhead, 11 a.m.; vs St. Michael-Albertville TBA
May 2: at Fergus Falls, 5 pm.
May 4: hosts Alexandria, 5 p.m.
May 9: at Sartell, 5 p.m.
May 11: hosts Rocori (2), 4 p.m.
May 16: at Sauk Rapids, 5 p.m.
May 18: hosts St. Cloud, 5 p.m.
May 22: at Buffalo, 4:30 p.m.
May 25: hosts Bemidij and Andover, 1:30 p.m.
May 30-June 8: Section 8-4A Tournament
June 13-16: Class 4A State Tournament
Head coach: Trent Grams, 5th year
2022 record: CLC 6-7; overall 7-14
Assistant coaches: Dylan Knipple (varsity assistant), Tom Fairbanks (sophomore), Mike Biaka (sophomore), Bryce Flanagan (freshmen), Matt Means (freshmen)
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.