By PATRICK SLACK
With a roster comprised almost entirely of athletes that made a run to the section finals together in football and put together standout seasons apart in basketball, Upsala-Swanville Area (USA) will look to close out the school year with a stellar spring of baseball.
Junior third baseman and pitcher Eric Lampert led the Patriots with a .405 batting average and 2.60 ERA last year, senior shortstop and pitcher Brock Cichon hit .394 and senior second baseman Colten Kruzel hit .372 and led the team in RBIs.
Also returning with starting experience are seniors Alec Griffith (first base/pitcher), Tren Dinius (catcher), Eric Frieler (outfield), Nick Frieler (infield) and Andy Nelson (infield/DH) and junior Christian Pekarek (outfield).
Looking to push for playing time are seniors Trevor Loxterkamp (outfield) and Austin Jorgenson (catcher/infield), junior Dylan Zimmerman (outfield/first base) and sophomore Tyler Evans (infield/pitcher).
Graduating from last year’s roster were Tom Ripplinger, Derek Pfeiffer and Travis Schneider.
Adam Gerads will step into the head coach role this spring, replacing 300-game winner Ken Solarz.
If the Patriots improve throughout the season, Gerads said, they will be competitive in a deep group of contenders in the Prairie Conference and Section 5A.
“The conference and section is as good as I can remember it being,” Gerads said. “It’s anybody’s to have. Browerville is the defending conference and section champ, so until somebody knocks them off they have to be considered one of the favorites.”