Editor’s note: EPLN Sports Editor Ryan Williamson asked each EPHS spring sports coach to give us a breakdown of their team and what’s to come. Here’s what this coach had to say.
From baseball coach John Buteyn:
We returned a lot of guys (12) from our varsity roster last year, having graduated only six seniors. We struggled in 2021, going 6-14 in the regular season. However, we learned a lot and were playing our best baseball in the section tournament, losing competitive games 4-3 in extra innings to Jefferson, who was the No. 1 seed, and 2-0 to Shakopee.
Much of that group had a successful summer for the American Legion team, winning their substate (which is like the section tournament for Legion) and making the state tournament. That run helped build some confidence for our group, plus we’ve reintegrated a few talented players back from last year’s varsity team that played club ball over the summer.
We’ll be led by our pitching staff, particularly the trio of Brock Anderson, Joey Connelly and Jackson Thielen, who will likely start most of our games. We’ll rely on Jack Nicklaus, Aiden Pfeifer, Blake Cramer and Adam Mertens out of the bullpen for the most part. Six of those seven are seniors, with Adam being the only junior.
We’ve looked very solid defensively in early season practices. We will seek to put a lot of pressure on offensively by taking good at-bats and being aggressive on the bases. We have a great group of kids that are fun to be around every day.
We play in a very difficult section with several other high-quality teams, but our goal will be to be playing our best baseball when postseason rolls around and to make a run at the state tournament.
This group will get the most out of their talent because of their character and desire to sacrifice for one another and to continue to improve. We were able to get things started with a win over Centennial 9-4 at home last night (April 11).