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Baseball: Pitching, experience in short supply for Tigers

Sophomore Parker Holmstrom runs through hitting drills during the first week of practice.

The Farmington baseball team is going to have to overcome its own inexperience if it's going to be competitive in a talented Missota Conference this spring.

The Tigers lost seven senior starters to graduation and return just four players who saw significant varsity playing time from last season's 7-13 squad.

"Our questions marks are going to be our pitching rotation and our overall varsity experience," veteran coach Mike Winters said. "With the conference being as tough as it will be -- similar to basketball -- we know we have the talent to compete with every team. We're striving for the top half of the conference."

Senior Spencer Merle will display his talent both on the mound and at the plate for the Tigers after being named all-conference a season ago. He hit a team-best .435 with four triples, two home runs, 14 runs scored, 11 RBIs and seven stolen bases, and on the mound he was 1-4 with a 4.87 ERA in 23 innings. When not pitching, Merle can also catch and play outfield.

In the infield, senior Jordan Lugowski is coming off a season where he hit .267 with four doubles and played a steady shortstop. He's joined by Kevin Olund, who got 20 varsity at bats and can pitch and play first base.

Joining Merle in the rotation will likely be control specialist JD Hinks, who earned a spot late last season and ended up picking up two victories and posting a 3.10 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.

Also back in the mix are first baseman/pitcher Kyle Mayer, pitcher/third baseman Jared Lipinski, pitcher/third baseman Zach Huber, outfielder/pitcher Jordan DeCroock, catcher/outfielder Johnny Dittman, Turner Olson, Caleb Eiffert and Isaac Toenjes.

Among the junior newcomers expected to compete for varsity spots are Jordan Beschrorner, Nick Schoening, Landon Neilson, Buck Lester, Ryan Geibel, Kyle Johnson, Tyler Clayton, Nick Hessa, Trent Seal and Edgar Espino.

Bobby Eckert, Parker Holmstrom, Zach Speikers and Austin Martinson head up a talented sophomore class.

The Tigers will play several scrimmages during their annual spring trip to Arkansas this week. They take on St. Cloud Apollo at the Metrodome next Wednesday, April 3, at 8:30 p.m. and are scheduled to take on Red Wing in their outdoor opener the following day in Red Wing.