Tom Elliott’s town team notebook: Joes mix young core with new talent

–by Tom Elliott, St. Cloud Times

ST. JOSEPH — In a six-year stretch from 2005 to 2010, the St. Joseph Joes made four of the city’s 19 state tournament berths, their best stretch since the 1980s.

St. Joseph made state in 2005, ’06, ’08 and ’10. It rivaled a run from 1981-88, when the Joes went to state five times.

For 2016, St. Joseph manager Pat Schneider hopes he has the nucleus of a young team that can rival those earlier squads.

“We’ve got some athletes who can run,” Schneider said.

Overall, they just have some athletes. It gives St. Joseph reason for optimism as it opens the 2016 Sauk Valley League season.

The Joes are host to the Foley Lumberjacks at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Schneider Field.

St. Joseph has added eight new players to a 26-man roster that was young and promising in 2015.

“I guarantee you all 26 will never be at the same game at the same time,” Schneider said.

The newcomers include Hunter Blommer, Jack Atkinson, Michael Tiede, Nathan Mohs, Justin Barg, Cody Darnell, Lance Lee and Nathan Chandler.

Blommer and Atkinson both play at Century College in White Bear Lake for head coach Dwight Kotila, a former Cold Spring Springer.

Both are St. Cloud Apollo graduates. Atkinson was a three-sport athlete for the Eagles and a standout right-handed pitcher.

Tiede, Mohs and Barg are also Apollo athletes. Darnell went to Rocori. Lee is from Battle Lake and Chandler is 31 years old and played at West Central Area High School.

They join a core of young players, mostly from Apollo and St. John’s Prep (which plays its home games at Schneider Field).

For the Joes, that includes right-hander Alex Kendall, who pitches for St. John’s University and is having a good spring, infielder Caz Novak, outfielder Zach Dehler , R.J. Alpers, Joey Stock, Joe Schwieters and Brock Cheeley. Call that group the Johnnie contingent.

Also back are Ben Alvord, Tyler Mueller, Brandon Bloch, Ethan Carlson and Michael Ashwill. Call them part of the Eagle contingent.

Ben Berscheid, Eric Vigil, Joe Lenerud, Mike Sauer, Willie Willats and Greg Anderson also are available.

The vast majority of the group is in its early 20s or younger.

It gives the Joes some hope they can start another state tournament run, the best being from 1954-60. That group took second in the state Class B tournament in ’54 and had consecutive state appearances in ’57, ’58, ’59 and ’60.

“We’ll see,” Schneider said.

The Sauk Valley will continue to be tough, but small, with only five teams. The Sartell Muskies, who won the state Class C title in 2013, will be one of the state’s best teams. Foley, like St. Joseph, is young and promising.

Litchfield and Clear Lake are rebuilding.

Region 15C expands

This year’s Region 15C tournament is expanding to nine teams after being eight in recent years. Nine would be a record in this area.

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