Rugby baseball swinging for state berth
Is winter over yet? The boys of spring sure hope so.
The Rugby High School baseball team managed to play just seven regular season games last year. That sort of light slate won’t help an inexperienced pitching staff on a talented RHS roster looking to win Region 5 and advance to the state tournament.
“It will come down to how we fare on the mound,” RHS coach Kendall Schieve said. “We’ll go through some growing pains early, but that’s where more games really helps.”
The Panthers opened the season Friday against Bishop Ryan in Minot, and if weather cooperates RHS will debut at home against Bottineau at 4 p.m. Thursday. Junior pitcher Eli Luna (Towner) was expected to start on the mound Friday. Luna and sophomore Evan Burckhard (Towner) are expected to throw the most innings for a pitching staff that is a work-in-progress.
The team graduated three starters who saw time on the mound in Josh Michels, Tyler Mongeon and Sheldon Thompson.
“I’m fully confident we’ll have guys step up and fill their roles,” Schieve said. “They come to work every day and try to get better.”
When Luna isn’t on the mound, he’ll anchor the team from shortstop.
“We should be one of the top teams in our region,” Luna said. “We have most of our pitching back. We have a lot of young guys, but we can work through that.”?Sophomore Hunter Hager and juniors Eric Hooker and Bennie Mygland will also be called on to pitch. Mygland will spend most of his time behind the plate.
“We just have to stay calm,” Hooker said. “We have enough talent to be really good this year. Bottineau will be tough this year, Harvey and North Star as well.”
Bolstering the lineup is third-year starter Jaedon Haman, a senior outfielder. Haman will bat second behind Luna. Burckhard, a third baseman, will bat third, and Hooker will start in the cleanup spot.
“I think we’ll do well hitting the ball, and with all the athletes we should cause some issues on the bases,” Schieve said.
Mygland knows keeping the opponents from moving around the basepaths will largely fall on his ability to stay in front of pitches.
“I just need to stop every ball,” he said. “That’s the only thing you can do.”
Karson Demers, the team’s other senior, will also be a key contributor at various positions.
The Region 5 tournament is set for May 19-21 at the No. 1 seed’s field. Play-in games for the bottom four seeds will be played at the respective higher seeds’ field. The state tournament is May 29-31 in Jamestown.
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