In baseball coach’s second year, repeat success of last season is expected


Coach Andrew Bennett discusses infield plays with sophomore Ben Oman. “Intesity”, a part of Bennett’s coaching philosophy, is written on the back of the team’s practice shirts.

Eddie Ortegan, Staff writer

South High’s baseball program has changed in multiple ways over the last two years. The hiring of a new coach last year brought new training techniques and the loss of good athletes who graduated last spring has also caused changes in the program. The team is improving in their game and, to most of the athletes, they are becoming more of a family than a team.

“We are doing very good this year,” said sophomore Jack Larson. “I think it’s because were doing more strength and conditioning at practice, and the team seems to be getting closer and closer since last year.”

The team has been preparing for the upcoming season since October. “A lot of our players participated in the off-season strength and conditioning program I offered to South students this year,” commented head coach Andrew Bennett. “Hopefully we will come into the season stronger and faster than we were a year ago.”

Bennett added that the team has been holding captains’ practices at the YWCA every Friday and has been able to work with Dan Kaczrowski, a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, each week.

Captain Miles Westrich, a junior, commented on the early workouts saying, “The new team has been together for four months, [giving us] a head start.” He added that though the size of the team has decreased, “the young guys seem to be stepping up.”

The team is looking to fill some big holes this year with three of last year’s seniors, Nathan Trelstad, Olyad Regassa, and Nick Ribar, now playing at the college level. Trelstad, a player at Minnesota State Mankato, and Ribar, a member of the University of St. Thomas baseball team, were two of South’s captains and all-conference players last year. “[They] will be very tough to replace,” said Bennett.

This thought appears to be cohesive among players and coaches alike. Senior captain Alec Kelly agreed with Bennett saying, “Last year we lost a lot of good seniors, and this year we have a young team.” However, optimism is still present, as Kelly added, “We seem really focused on winning this year so we should do well.”

Last year started off as a transitional year for the team when Bennett was hired to fill the head coaching position. He quickly became one with the team and players feel as if he’s made the team closer. “We’re getting used to the coach’s new system and I feel like the team has gotten more connected,” said Westrich.

Bennett’s unique coaching philosophy is another new and seemingly positive aspect that he has brought to the team. “[He] has experience with competitive baseball,” said Kelly. “He’s young, energetic and knows what he’s doing.”

Despite the energy and excitement of a new coach, along with a good record and a conference title, last year’s season did not have an ideal end. “[The varsity] got the number one seed in the playoffs but then lost in the first round,” said sophomore Phil Cronin. “It was a bad ending to a great season.”

Last year’s unexpected end doesn’t seem to phase the team, however, and hopes remain high for this season. “Our goal every year is to compete for a conference title and a section title,” commented Bennett. “And we expect to do so again this year.”

Another change for the baseball team this year is the renovation of their playing field. According to Bennett, the field at Van Cleve park, the Tigers’ home field, had a lot of work done to it during the off-season. A new playing surface, a complete fence around the field, and a replaced backstop are all elements of the renovation.

The new condition of the field has caused excitement among the team. “We’re very excited to have the chance to practice and play at such a great facility and our players will take a great deal of pride in maintaining a top-notch ballpark there,” said Bennett.

The anticipation of the upcoming season and the family-like atmosphere among the team seems apparent in the coaches’ and players’ attitudes. Westrich sums up this statement the best saying, “We are all working hard together as a team and not as individuals.”