Feb. 12, 2010
Bearcats Open 2010 Season This Weekend
The Northwest Missouri State baseball squad opens its 2010 season on Feb. 14 down in Alabama, where the Bearcats will be facing the University of Montevallo in a doubleheader starting at noon. Senior Trent Kohlstaedt, who went 3-3 last year with a 5.49 ERA, and junior transfer Jeremy Tate, who played two seasons at Longview Community College and redshirted at Northwest last season, are projected to be the opening-day starters for the Bearcats. Tate had 97 strikeouts and a 3.20 ERA for the Lakers in 2007.
Northwest will play three games against West Florida and four against Missouri S&T the following week. Northwest plays its first 17 games on the road before hosting Fort Hays State March 12-14. The MIAA season begins a week prior against Central Missouri.
"West Florida will be one of our toughest non-conference opponents," said Northwest Head Coach Darin Loe. "They are always a solid team. That should be a good measuring stick for us. But like I tell my kids, it doesn't matter who we're playing we have to be ready to play every day."
Loe begin his 11th season at Northwest with a 286-249 record. His Bearcats finished 24-27 last season, their first sub-.500 mark since 2001, and 15-21 in the MIAA. Northwest returns six of nine starting position players from last season and two of its top five starting pitchers.
Northwest returns its top RBI man and home run hitter from last year in Brandon Kirsch, who had 11 dingers and drove in 32. Trevor Conner also returns after finishing second on the team in batting average (.343) and on-base percentage (.415) last year. Matt Stice, who led the team with 26 steals and recorded the most hits for the Bearcats with 53, comes back for his second season with Northwest after playing two years at Ellsworth Community College.
Northwest has nine seniors on this year's squad, including four who are four-year team members in Kirsch, Jon Henne, Nick Pfeiffer and Ben Stedronsky. Together, they look to lead a team in search of its first NCAA tournament bid since 2003.
"That's where your leaders emerge," said Loe. "Those four have been through it all and seen what it's all about and they want to put their stamp on outstanding careers here."
Henne, who is from Elkhorn, Neb., started 31 games last season for the Bearcats at first base and hit. 281 with 15 RBIs. Henne is projected to be the starter at first base again this year.
"Jon's our quiet leader," said Loe. "He hustles at everything he does. He hits for average and for power and brings that burning desire to win to the ballpark every day."
Pfeiffer is moving to third base this season after spending the past three seasons at second base. A native of Winigan, Mo., Pfeiffer scored 25 runs last season while driving in 14.
"Nick's our vocal leader," said Loe. "Everybody gravitates to Nick because of his infectious personality. He's the teammate that's always talking, the player that if he's not at practice we're not as sharp because he is the one that keeps everyone on their toes. We moved him over to third base from second base this year and he's doing a great job there for us. He's our leader on the field."
Kirsch, who is from Papillion, Neb., was Northwest's power hitter last season. Not only did Kirsch lead the team in home runs and RBIs, but he was tied for second on the team with 26 runs and started in 45 games last season. Kirsch will be starting in right field for the Bearcats this season.
"Brandon is our offensive leader," said Loe "He has a ton of power and has led us in home runs in two of his three seasons. He's a player who can change a ballgame with one swing of the bat. We'll rely on him to drive in runs and we need him to emerge and hit the way he can."
A native of Lincoln, Neb., Stedronsky came out of the bullpen last season for the Bearcats and was third on the team with 19 appearances and fifth with 21 strikeouts. Stedronsky was second on the squad with a 0.77 strikeouts per innings pitched average.
"Ben has been with us for five years now," said Loe. "He's a tireless worker and a player that even when he's not pitching is always there lending support to his teammates. He is very important to us coming out of the bullpen.
"I never have to worry about where Ben's head is because he's always focused on the game. He wants to help everybody else and help them get to their fullest potential."
Projected opening day starters for the Bearcats:
Catcher- Kreed Kurtz, senior, St. Joseph, Mo., .245 BA, 26 runs, 35 hits, 25 RBIs last season
First base- Jon Henne, senior, Elkhorn, Neb., .281, 14 runs, 32 hits, 15 RBIs
Second base- Cameron Bedard, freshman, Cypress, Ca.,
Shortstop- Bryce McCrary, freshman, St. Joseph, Mo.
Third base- Nick Pfeiffer, senior, Winigan, Mo., .247 BA, 25 runs, 24 hits, 14 RBIs
Right field- Brandon Kirsch, senior, Papillion, Neb., .245, 26 runs, 33 hits, 32 RBIs
Center field- Matt Stice, senior, Omaha, Neb., .299, 24 runs, 53 hits, 23 RBIs
Left field- Trevor Conner, junior, Creston, Iowa, .343, 21 runs, 37 hits, 16 RBIs
Designated hitter- Luke Lavicky, senior, Dwight, Neb., .269, 11 runs, 14 hits, 7 RBIs
For more information, please contact:
Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
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