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Spring Sports Preview: Patriot baseball returns nine starters

The Patriots were 10-8 in 2021

Baseball Preview Cole Anderson
Pequot Lakes Cole Anderson chases down a fly ball — losing his hat in the process — during the Patriots' practice on Tuesday, March 29, 2022.
Dan Determan / Echo Journal

The Pequot Lakes Patriots should improve this year with nine returning starters from a team that finished 10-8 overall after losing in the first round of the Section 7-2A playoffs.

Returning starters include: Nic Kotaska, Sam Rysavy, Andrew Villareal, Taevyn Brown, Grant Loge, Clay Erickson, Caden Nelson, Conner Quale and Griffin Hoffman.

“Last season, we had a young and inexperienced team that at times started three freshmen,” said Patriots coach Jon Kotaska, “but we competed in every game and gained a lot of experience. We are returning most of our roster, but still have a heavy under-class group. We should have a good pitching rotation of four to five guys with experience from games last year.”

Last season, Villereal led the team with a .340 average while Kotaska was second at .275 and Erickson third at .271. Kotaska and Rysavy tied for the team lead by scoring 15 runs while Kotaska added 17 walks. Top on-base percentages were Kotaska .449, Nelson .447 and Villereal .435.

As for pitching, top earned-run averages were Erickson 1.32, Kotaska 1.87 and Nelson 6.17. Strikeout leaders were Kotaska with 30 and Erickson with 22. Kotaksa also had a 4-1 record while Erickson and Nelson were both 2-2.

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Coach Kotaska expects his outfield rotation to feature Brayden Spiczka, Kotaska, Loge and Quale. Corner infielder candidates are Sam Rysavy, Nelson and Erickson and middle infielders are Kotaska, Taevyn Brown, and Quale. Catching duties will be handled by Griffin Hoffman and Nelson.

“Our defensive lineup will need to be flexible with our pitching rotation,” Kotaska said.

Last spring, the seventh-seeded Pequot Lakes fell to No. 10 Greenway 5-0 in section play. This year, Kotaska expects Duluth Marshall and Aitkin to be section favorites with veteran lineups. He adds that Detroit Lakes and Aitkin should be Mid-State Conference favorites because they are “both fundamentally solid.”

The Patriots, who were scheduled to open by hosting Esko on Tuesday, April 5, are scheduled to host Upsala-Swanville at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7.

Baseball Preview Nic Kotaska
Pequot Lakes' Nic Kotaska warms up during the Patriots' practice on Tuesday, March 29, 2022.
Dan Determan / Echo Journal

Pequot Lakes baseball

April

7 - Upsala-Swanville at Pequot Lakes 4:30 p.m.

11 - Pequot Lakes at Bemidji 4:30 p.m.

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14 - Crosby-Ironton at Pequot Lakes 4:30 p.m.

19 - Staples-Motley at Pequot Lakes 4:30 p.m.

21 - Pillager at Pequot Lakes 4:30 p.m.

26 - Pequot Lakes at Aitkin (2) 4 p.m.

29 - Pequot Lakes at Detroit Lakes (2) 4 p.m.

May

3 - Park Rapids at Pequot Lakes (2) 4 p.m.

5 - Pequot Lakes at Greenway-Coleraine 4:30 p.m.

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9 - Osakis at Pequot Lakes 4:30 p.m.

10 - Pequot Lakes at Crosby-Ironton 4:30 p.m.

13 - Pequot Lakes at Moose Lake-Willow River 4 p.m.

17 - Pequot Lakes at Staples-Motley 4:30 p.m.

20 - Pequot Lakes at Pierz 7 p.m.

23 - Pequot Lakes at Northwoods/Cook 4:30 p.m.

24 - Virginia at Pequot Lakes 4:30 p.m.

26 - Section 6-2A playoffs begin

Related Topics: PEQUOT LAKES BASEBALL
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