20 newcomers making an impact for southeastern Minnesota baseball teams

May 11—ROCHESTER — The 2024 high school baseball season is well underway and a lot of players in the area are having standout seasons. Here are 20 area players having a big impact during their first full season as starters.

The sophomore got a quick call-up after playing the first two games on the JV this season. He has played first base, third base and shortstop. Hitting in the No. 2 spot, he leads the Rockets in hits (14), doubles (four), batting average (.326), slugging percentage (.419), OPS (.802) and runs scored (nine). "He is the true definition of a utility infielder," JM coach Tyler Zemla said. "His success as a hitter is due to his ability to have a great hitting approach at the plate and the ability to hit to all fields."

The sophomore was a starter for the Mayo (Redhawks) American Legion team last summer and now he has become the varsity shortstop for the Spartans. "He showed an excellent ability to play the position," Mayo coach Tom Senne said. "His bat has improved and he has become one of our more reliable hitters." Leopold is batting .300 with three doubles and a .778 OPS.

The junior second baseman teams with Leopold to give the Spartans stellar infield defense. "Between the two, they might be the best middle infield combo at Mayo, and in our area, in a very long time," Mayo coach Tom Senne said. The coach adds that Anderson "has great hands and can play any position in the infield. His bat has been a pleasant surprise this year. He attacks at the plate and puts the ball in play." Anderson is batting .333 with a .948 OPS.

The sophomore has made a big impact as the leadoff hitter for the Eagles while starting at second base and a couple games in the outfield. He is batting .333 with a double, two RBIs, nine runs scored and a .469 on-base percentage. "Nolan has gotten a lot stronger this offseason and also has more confidence at the plate," Lourdes coach Dave Jensen said. "He has been a spark plug at the top of the lineup."

Hill saw his baseball skills improve with a move to Montana as a freshman. He spent two years there and played 50-plus games each year. He returned to the W-K this year and has excelled as a junior. He is 3-1 with a 2.75 ERA as a pitcher, including a big win against La Crescent-Hokah. He also has the third-most hits on the team.

After a slow start, the junior first baseman went on a 9-for-18 streak at the plate to boost his average to .333. He has six RBIs and nine runs scored with a .474 on-base percentage. "Josh has found success this year because of his ability to use the entire field as a hitter," Lake City coach Logan Thomas said. "He has a smooth swing from the left side and can pull a fastball to right just as well as he can sit on an outside fastball or offspeed pitch to left."

The sophomore has quickly become one of the aces on the Caledonia pitching staff. He was off to a dominating start with a 4-0 record and one save over his first 29 1/3 innings. He had 36 strikeouts and a stellar 0.47 ERA. Warriors coach Shawn Bauer says O'Heron "has great offspeed (pitches) and pinpoint accuracy on his fastball."

The sophomore has been a very effective pitcher for the Saints during his first 20 innings this season. He has posted a 2-1 record and a low ERA of 1.03. "He continues to improve as a pitcher and has a bright future for us," Saints coach Scott McCready said.

Matejka is one of two freshmen who has stepped in and is excelling for D-E. The infielder is batting .333 with a .415 on-base percentage, two doubles, a triple, nine RBIs, eight runs scored and five stolen bases. Also has 1.91 ERA in 7 1/3 innings. "Good arm and solid bat, great teammate," D-E coach Brian DeFrang said.

Skrukrud is the second freshman making an impact for the Eagles. The first baseman is batting .324 with a .425 on-base percentage, one double, eight RBIs and six runs scored. "Joel is playing a position he's never played before and adapting well," D-E coach Brian DeFrang said. "Very good athlete."

The sophomore has provided plenty of pop in the middle of a potent Pine Island lineup. The first baseman is batting .342, with a .457 on-base percentage, four doubles, a home run, 11 RBIs and 10 runs scored.

The sophomore has played middle infield for the Bombers and has also been one of the team's top pitchers. He rotates between second base and shortstop. On offense, four of his nine hits have been doubles. He has struck out 29 batters in 17 innings. "We used him in relief early in the season, but now he has started two games and done a great job," Bombers coach Bucky Lindow said.

The sophomore has had pretty much the same role as his teammate Ryan Hjellming. Tennessean rotates between second and shortstop when he's not on the mound. In 18 2/3 innings pitched, he had a 3.00 ERA. "He has pitched against some really good teams," Bombers coach Bucky Lindow said.

The junior has seen action at third base, catcher and on the mound. He is hitting .405 with a .936 OPS, 10 runs scored and six RBIs. He also has one save on the mound. "I just love his versatility," P-E-M coach Scott Flattum said. "He will play anywhere and plays two really tough positions in third base and catcher. He bats right in the middle of our lineup and makes loud contact in almost every at-bat."

The sophomore has made his biggest impact as a pitcher, but also plays third base. He has a 3-1 record with a 1.46 ERA and has struck out 21 in 24 innings. "Drew Peters has quickly stepped up this year becoming one of our trusted pitchers on the mound," Lancers coach Ryan Niedfeldt said. "He attacks hitters and keeps them off balance." Hitting in the middle of the order, Peters is batting .241 with six RBIs, six runs scored and a .371 on-base percentage.

The sophomore has been effective at the plate and in the outfield. He is batting .333 with a .487 on-base percentage. Coach Dan Drazan said Jasperson is "playing great defensively in the outfield for us."

The junior has excelled in the outfield and has done some pitching. He is batting .333 with a .455 on-base percentage with four runs scored and two RBIs. "Alex has really rounded into a great outfielder for us," P-E-M coach Scott Flattum said. "He has played both center and right field and he is willing to do anything to help us win."

The sophomore has stepped into a starting role at the Big Nine Conference level since the beginning of the season. He is an athletic outfielder who throws left and bats right. He has had modest success so far at the plate, batting .227 with two RBIs and five runs scored.

The Lions have been taking their lumps this season as they re-started the program after taking last year off due to a lack of players. Osborne is part of a youth movement and he is the starting catcher despite being in eighth grade. He is batting .250 with a .500 on-base percentage and three RBIs.

The junior has stepped into a starting position in the infield for the Cougars. "Dane is a very well rounded defender and can hit well to all parts of the field," Cougars coach Aaron Yusten said.