Defending champion Mustangs have some holes to fill

It has been 16 years since a team won back-to-back state high school baseball championships in the biggest class in Minnesota. Roster turnover has a lot to do with that, and the defending Class AAA state champion Mounds View Mustangs face plenty of turnover from last year’s squad.

The Mustangs that graduated last spring were responsible for 75 percent of the innings pitched and 65 percent of the at-bats in the 2013 season.

“With the 2013 graduation of many players, we’re looking forward to a great deal of opportunity and competition for varsity playing time in 2014,” said Mounds View head coach Mark Downey. “We expect to see a number of different players earn some varsity playing time early in the season as they compete for playing time in the second half of the season and on into the section playoffs.”

There are nine players from the 2013 playoff roster back on the team this spring. That includes senior Sam Hentges and juniors Alec Abercrombie and Charlie Callahan, who were all named to the state all-tournament team last June.

Hentges is the biggest name among that group of returnees and one of the biggest names in the state. Last fall, Hentges, a pitcher and first baseman, signed to play collegiate baseball at Arkansas of the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference (SEC) and was named to a pair of preseason All-America teams.

Abercrombie played primarily center field last season and Callahan is a pitcher/infielder.

Other returning players include seniors Chance Carnahan, Tucker Gran, Ryan Plasencia and Kellen Rholl and juniors Joe Janey and Wyatt Meyer. Four seniors who saw some varsity time in 2013 and should compete for time again this spring are Elliot Jang, Ethan Madsen, Nick Varberg and Robbie Ware.

Mounds View isn’t the only team facing turnover from last season and that has contributed to making the Suburban East Conference a balanced league.

“There is good competitive balance throughout the conference,” said Downey.

Once the post-season rolls around, Mounds View will face a different road to the state tournament. The Mustangs have moved to Section 5AAA after playing in Section 4AAA the previous four seasons.

Mounds View’s 2014 schedule includes a pair of games this week, starting Thursday with a trip to Hastings. The Mustangs are also scheduled to play at Park Center on Friday but the status of both of those games is up in the air depending on weather and the playability of the fields.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.

2014 Mounds View High School baseball schedule

April 3    at Hastings    4:15 p.m.
April 4    at Park Center    4:15 p.m.
April 7    vs. White Bear Lake                4:15 p.m.
April 9    at Stillwater    4:15 p.m.
April 11    at East Ridge    4:15 p.m.
April 14    vs. Cretin-Derham Hall                4:15 p.m.
April 16    vs. Roseville    4:15 p.m.
April 21    at Forest Lake    6 p.m.
April 23    at Woodbury    4:15 p.m.
April 25    vs. Park-Cottage Grove                4:15 p.m.
April 28    vs. Hastings        4:15 p.m.
April 30    at White Bear Lake                4:15 p.m.
May 2    vs. Stillwater        4:15 p.m.
May 5    vs. East Ridge        4:15 p.m.
May 7    at Cretin-Derham Hall                4:15 p.m.
May 9    at Roseville        4:15 p.m.
May 10    vs. Irondale        1 p.m.
May 12    vs. Forest Lake        4:15 p.m.
May 14    vs. Woodbury        4:15 p.m.
May 16    at Park-Cottage Grove                4:15 p.m.

 

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