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Greater Grand Forks baseball preview: Green Wave look to contend for state berth

Apr. 12—GRAND FORKS — East Grand Forks Senior High senior Drew Carpenter has paid his dues.

This season will mark Carpenter's fourth season of varsity baseball for the Green Wave.

As a freshman, East Grand Forks finished 2-17.

But a young roster has come of age. As the Green Wave begin the 2024 season, a section championship has become the goal.

"The past couple of years, we've been young," Carpenter said. "We've grown. (A big junior class) has grown, and they've been talented. Their skills and knowledge has gotten better."

The Green Wave were 16-7 last season, falling to Perham in the Minnesota Section 8AA semifinals.

With seven returners that all hit at least .290 a year ago, the Green Wave have a goal of making the state baseball tournament — something the program hasn't done since 2016.

"That's my expectation, honestly," said East Grand Forks catcher Levi Anderson, who's committed to play college baseball at Dakota Wesleyan next season. "I have pretty high expectations of our team. We're experienced and older than we have been in the past."

Carpenter and Anderson are the lone seniors. Carpenter hit .403 last season, while Anderson hit .394. Carpenter was also 6-1 on the mound.

Junior pitcher Riley Hams is expected to be strong. He was an all-section pick last year while throwing 42.1 innings, posting a 6-2 record with 47 strikeouts.

"These guys have the mindset that if we don't win a section championship, it'll be a disappointment," East Grand Forks coach Dustin Frize said.

The Green Wave will have section challenges from Perham and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.

"We know the road is going to go through those two," Frize said. "They're the two who ended our season last year. I think the kids are hungry to take the next step."

Hams and fellow juniors Noah Frize and Jace Van Eps have started since they were freshmen.

"They were good defensively, and we were building a strong defensive lineup," Dustin Frize said. "Anything they gave us at the plate was a bonus. That year, both Noah and Riley hit over .300 as freshmen. We got offensive productivity when we were really just looking for people to be athletic and sound defensively.

"They surprised me with how they handled that level as freshmen. They continued to grow and be stronger to where they are now as juniors. They have a lot of experience coming and have been in a lot of situations. Hopefully, that'll pay off with wins at tournament time."

Coach: Mark Varriano.

2023 record: 6-7.

Key returners: Soph. C-IF Adrian Gonzalez Rodriguez (.250 average); sr. OF Brady Peterson (.235 average); sr. OF Josh Scribner; soph. P-IF Alex Seaver (29 IP, 2.66 ERA, 32 Ks).

Top newcomers: Jr. OF Jacob Chine; soph. IF-P Griffen Haagenson; soph. C-IF Matt Dosch; soph. IF-P Zander Waind; sr. IF Tate Parson; jr. IF-P Justin Roth; soph. 2B Max Grafenauer; soph. IF-P Rilan Korynta; jr. OF Tyson Ulmer; jr. OF Jace Mason.

Coach Varriano says: "We have a lot of sophomores and sophomore pitching, so not a lot of experience on the mound. The strength right now is they don't quit on each other. We're going to learn how to play and win together as a team. Most of these guys played junior varsity last year, so it's adjusting to the speed of the game and playing the right way and playing hard."

Coach: Danny Marto.

2023 record: 3-8.

Key returners: Sr. IF-P Zach Benjamin; sr. C-2B-P Gabe Tande; sr. OF-SS-P Braden Brevik; sr. 1B-P-OF Noah Morkve; sr. OF-IF-P Blaise Wocken; sr. 3B-1B-P Landon Lima; soph. IF-P Keegan Hensrud.

Top newcomers: Soph. OF Zeke Zimmerman; eighth-grader IF-OF-P Nolan Marto; soph. 1B-3B-P Mason Griffin; jr. 3B-C-P Gabe DiNicola; sr. 2B-P Rylan Osowski; jr. OF-1B-P Latrell Murph; sr. OF Jaxon Washburn.

Coach Marto says: "We have a lot of senior leadership. That's a strength as they've taken some of the younger kids along, although it's a new identity and culture with a new coach. We've committed two errors in three games, so that's a plus defensively. We've walked too many guys, and we're shaking rust off at the plate. Once we put the ball in play more, we should have some different results."

Coach: Dustin Frize.

2023 record: 16-7.

Key returners: Sr. C Levi Anderson (all-section, .394, 6 2Bs, HR); sr. P-3B Drew Carpenter (all-section, .403, 5 2Bs, 2 HRs, 40.1 IP, 6-1 record, 31 Ks, 6.02 ERA); jr. 2B-SS Noah Frize (.310, 3 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 2 HRs); jr. 3B-1B Jace Van Eps (.292); jr. P-SS Riley Hams (all-section, .343, 7 2Bs, 3 3Bs, HR, 42.1 IP, 6-2 record, 47 Ks, 3.19 ERA); jr. CF Hunter Varnson (.360); jr. LF Jordan Nowacki (.313).

Top newcomers: Soph. RF-P Carson McDonald; soph. 1B Cole Schmiedeberg.

Coach Frize says: "Pitching is always better than hitting early on, so our bats will have to come around. I think we'll have a productive lineup and speed on the basepaths. Our pitching staff is going to throw strikes. I think we'll see more strikeouts out of them than we have in the past. I expect us to be sound defensively with the experience we have coming back. We have two seniors and a really strong junior class."

Coach: Paul Bethke.

2023 record: 17-7, lost to Fosston in Minnesota Section 8A championship.

Key returners: Sr. OF-P Josiah Sundby (all-section, all-conference honorable mention, .221, 28 IP, 5-1 record, 2.00 ERA, 20 Ks); sr. OF Mike Gapp; sr. DH Ben Wharam; jr. 1B-P Elliot Arntson (.239); jr. SS-P Parker Erickson (Northwest Diamond Conference Pitcher of the Year, all-section, .414, 4 2Bs, 3 HRs, 55.6 IP, 5-2 record, 0.88 ERA, 88 Ks); jr. C David Larson (all-section, all-conference, .319, 5 2Bs, 3 HRs); jr. 3B-P Jake Satterlund (.238); soph. SS-2B Isaac Sundby (.245).

Top newcomers: Eighth-grader OF-P Nick Satterlund; jr. IF Will Zavarol; soph. C Liam Larson; sr. OF Kaven Rohrich; sr. OF Dawson Rohrich.

Coach Bethke says: "We return a fair amount of what we had last year, especially pitching-wise. Our pitchers will keep us in games. Where we will look to improve, and have to improve, will be offensively. They're going to have to generate runs with bunting and base-running. Erickson is the best (pitcher) in our neck of the woods at our level. He pretty much dominated for the first time out. We expect that. We probably have more guys comfortable as starters than we have in the past. If the schedule holds true, it'll help to be a little deeper with your pitching than in the past."