By PATRICK SLACK
Royalton entered last spring’s Sub-Section 5A East tournament as the sixth seed after finishing the regular season with a sub-.500 record.
The Royals then went on a dazzling run, sweeping their way to an unexpected sub-section title before narrowly falling in a one-run contest in the section semifinals.
This spring, Royalton will once again enter as underdogs, featuring a young squad in a deep pack of contenders in the Prairie Conference and Section 5A.
“The Prairie Conference once again looks very solid,” Royalton head coach Aaron Meier said. “USA, Osakis, Browerville and LPGE will all be tough, with a number of returning starters. Don’t expect many cupcakes this year.”
However, the Royals will feature one of the top pitching duos in the conference in senior Matt Silbernick and junior Cade Stang, along with fellow returning starting sophomores Jordon Smieja (catcher) and Brady Moulzolf (pitcher/shortstop).
Seniors Lucas Snyder (first base/outfield), Corey Popp (infield) and Brad Woidyla (infield) are among the players vying for increased playing time for the Royals.
“One bright spot for the team is our experience returning on the mound,” Meier said. “Matt Silbernick and Cade Stang logged a lot of innings in 2012, and we expect some contributions from Brady Moulzolf and Jordon Smieja as well.”
“(We have a) young, inexperienced group, that we’re hoping is competitive throughout the 2013 season,” he said.
Graduating from last year were Tyler Sieben, Brandon Lattimer, Steve Hoff, Noah Farrell and Jeremy Grittner. Seniors on this year’s team include Matt Silbernick, Lucas Snyder, Corey Popp, Brad Woidyla and Chris Eli.
Meier steps in for his first season at the helm for departing head coach Rusty Gwost, who earned his 200th career win during last year’s playoffs.