Good things coming; Vikings hoping experience will pave the way

By Becky Walz,

The Decorah baseball team has 12 returning letter winners and a desire to make it deep into the postseason this July.
Adam Riley will be back in the coach’s box for his third season, with Ryan Hogan as his assistant.
“We are fortunate enough to have a lot of experienced and talented baseball players in our dugout this season. The challenge going into this season will be fitting all those talented pieces together knowing we can only put 10 guys in a starting lineup every day,” said Coach Adam Riley. “Coach Hogan and I hope that everyone on the team will be ready to accept their variety of roles on any given night to help our team be as successful as it can be while they all take steps to become better people and players every day we are together.”

Cut short
The Vikings of 2020 had a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic but returned to the baseball diamond in June with 11 players having varsity experience.
It was one and done for Decorah in the Class 3A District semifinal as the Vikings fell at home to Charles City, 7-0. Decorah wrapped up the season with a 12-5 record.
The Vikings hit .274 last season, with a .417 on-base percentage and .340 slugging clip. The team scored 119 runs on 117 hits, with 24 doubles and 100 RBI. The pitching staff compiled a 3.97 ERA with 109 strikeouts.

Those to replace
Decorah has three seniors to replace this summer. At the top of the list is second-team all-NEIC pitcher Seth Shindelar. During his senior campaign, Shindelar earned a 3-1 record on the mound with a 3.60 ERA and 1.51 WHIP.
Also graduating were outfielder Andrew Magner and first baseman Luke Benzing.

Big names
The Vikings have a very strong returning group of 12 seniors who have played a lot of quality baseball together mixed with a promising group of juniors. Decorah only graduated one senior starter from last year’s team. 
“Our returning pitching staff should be strong and has necessary experience to be successful lead by Cael Luzum who had a tremendous junior year with a 5-0 record, .076 ERA with 44 strikeouts and only three walks,” said Coach Riley.
Fellow first team all-NEIC honoree Tyler Thompson will return to his post at third base or as the designated hitter with a .390 batting average and .432 on-base percentage.
Outfielder Kody Bodensteiner earned a second-team all-NEIC nod after producing 16 runs and 14 stolen bases on a .389 batting average. 
Junior Keenan Tyler was a second-team all-NEIC utility player with a .379 on-base percentage and .294 on base percentage.
Briggs Duwe returns to his infield and pitcher duties after earning honorable mention all-NEIC honors a year ago.
Other seniors back are Cai Brevig (P/IF), James Marx (OF/P), Drew Snyder (C/P), Brady Hogan (IF), Kyle Renken (OF/P) and Gunnar Steine (P/OF).
Looking to contribute to the Vikings’ success this season are juniors Noah Storts (P/IF/OF) and Dane Frieden (C/P/IF).

With the season set to get under way next week, Coach Riley anticipates Waverly-Shell Rock, New Hampton and Charles City to rise to the top of the Northeast Iowa Conference with a return of experienced players on the varsity level.
“These three teams will have the necessary skill and pitching depth to be competitive night in and night out in conference play,” added Coach Riley.
Given the large number of senior and junior players with varsity experience paired with the pitching depth and experience of the Vikings, Decorah hopes to compete with every team in the league each night.
“If we can take an approach of playing one pitch, one out, one inning and one game at a time, we should be in a position to compete for conference title,” said Coach Riley. “Coach Hogan and I have really enjoyed working with this large group of seniors the last three years. This group, along with multiple juniors, have put time into not only baseball, but being multi-sport competitors that should serve them well in the season ahead. We look forward to a fun season of being at the ballpark every night with this group.”


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