Mission in mind; Warriors aim for third straight trip to state

By Becky Walz,

After back-to-back trips to the state tournament, the South Winn baseball team will once again have high expectations entering the 2021 season.
With eight returning letter winners, the Warriors have the cast to make another run to the state tournament.
Leading the team to the promised land is Head Coach Alex Smith in his 11th season. Helping him will be assistants Jordan Rommes and Justin Izer.

A strong year
A trip to the state tournament in 2019 only made the Warriors hungry for more as the 2020 season got underway mid-June. Embracing the shortened season, South Winn finished 15-0 in the Upper Iowa Conference to win the title outright.
South Winn opened the postseason blanking Maquoketa Valley 10-0. An hour rain delay, several lightning delays and a tough Ed-Co squad couldn’t bring down the Warriors in the Class 1A District 6 semifinal, as SW outlasted the Vikings 4-1. The Red and White made it one step closer to the state tournament with a 15-0 shutout of the MFL MarMac Bulldogs to win their fifth district title in 11 years. South Winn would avenge its only loss of the season to Saint Ansgar in Cresco with a 3-0 substate win in Cresco to earn its second-straight trip to Principal Park in Des Moines. The No. 4 Warriors faced Don Bosco in Des Moines, falling 3-1 in the state quarterfinals.
For the season, the Warriors hit .338, with a .453 on-base percentage and .455 slugging clip. They had 46 doubles, nine triples, and seven home runs. They drove in 242 runs and had 109 stolen bases. On the mound, the team compiled a 1.28 ERA, with opponents hitting .190 against them and collecting 207 strikeouts.
Five seniors ended their high school careers at the conclusion of the season, all who were selected as all-conference, with several all-district honorees and two getting all-state nods, as the quintet combined for 18 letters in their career.
Leading the way was Jaron Todd. The second baseman/pitcher had a .447 batting average, driving in 21 runs, scoring 42 and stealing 16 bases. On the mound, Todd had 3-0 record in his 359 innings of work, collecting 23 strikeouts for a 1.50 ERA.
Noah Tieskoetter finished his career with a .315 batting average to go with 16 RBI. He had 28 hits and 18 stolen bases. He went 6-0 on the hill, striking out 51 batters for a 1.07 ERA.
Seth Greve manned first base and hit .432 and drove in 27 runs with his 38 hits. Catcher Kody Kleve had a .333 batting average and led the Warriors with 31 RBI. Carter Wenthold was a staple in the outfield, collecting 32 put-outs.

Hungry for more
Without the five graduates, the Warriors’ offensive line-up will have a different look, but Coach Smith anticipates the continued combination of speed and power to be displayed from top to bottom of the line-up. South Winn returns 70 stolen bases and 22 extra-base hits.
“Pitching depth has been a major asset for us and should continue to be the case again this season. In total you could see 10-12 guys getting varsity innings this season with the busy schedule we have put together,” said Coach Smith. “Ethan Luzum will anchor the top of the rotation, but look for Cael Kuboushek, Briar Tigges, Jordan Buchheit, Tony Greve, and Keagen Streeter to all see significant innings as well.”
Leading candidates for the outfield include seniors Jacob Herold and Cael Kuboushek, along with juniors Logan Hageman, Sam Conway, Evan Bushman and Dayten Ondrashek.
Depending on who is on the mound, Warrior fans could see seniors Ethan Luzum (SS/P), Briar Tigges (3B/P) or juniors Nick Holien (IF/P), Jordan Buchheit (1B/P), Tony Greve (1B/P) or sophomore Carson Wenthold (IF/P) occupying the infield. According to Coach Smith, sophomore Keagen Streeter looks to be the main contender for the job behind the plate with Logan Hageman and others providing some depth at the catcher’s position.
Others adding depth to the South Winn roster include Aidan Tollefsrud (OF) and Lane Quandahl (OF/P).

A run to a title
The Warriors will look to defend the Upper Iowa Conference title they have secured the past three seasons. 
Coach Smith doesn’t discount the nucleus of players returning to the Kee High and Clayton Ridge dugouts.
“I look for several other teams in the league to be improved from last year as well,” he said. “We are excited for the upcoming season and look forward to a packed schedule between conference games and other top teams from around the area.”

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