Northfield News: Dundas set to defend state title

–by Nick GerhardtNorthfield News 

The key pieces will all return this year for the defending Class B state champion Dundas Dukes but how those pieces will be used remains to be seen.

The team’s top pitchers Todd Mathison and Charlie Ruud both remain on the mend and that means changes in how the Dukes will distribute the pitching load. Rudd appeared in 16 games but started just seven. He finished with an 8-2 record and .67 ERA in 80 2/3 innings. But Ruud, who had surgery on his pitching arm three years ago, threw 15 2/3 scoreless innings in the state tournament, including a complete-game shutout against Chaska.

Mathison was limited to 43 2/3 innings last year while battling arm issues as well. He finished 4-2 with a 1.85 ERA a year after going 9-2 with a 1.22 ERA in 15 starts.

Mathison’s bat proved just as valuable for Dundas at the state tournament after he clubbed a go-ahead, two-run home run in the opening game of the state tournament against St. Michael as part of a seven-run ninth inning that led to a 10-6 victory.

“This year we’re going to be pretty conservative with our pitching,” Dukes player/co-manager Mike Ludwig said. “We’ll partition the rotation. A lot more segmented innings which is OK.”

Starters Matt Neuger and Noah Luedtke will also return for Dundas, which finished with a 35-10 record.

Much of the lineup will remain the same for the Dukes this season with catcher Patrick Wadzinski at the top after hitting a team-leading .367 and drawing a team-high 34 walks.

Tyler and Carson Jones also return. Tyler Jones won the state tournament’s MVP honors after .571 average, five runs and five RBI. Carson Jones hit .365 with 30 RBI and stole 20 bases. Tyler Jones finished the year with a .361 average and 37 RBI.

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