Varsity Baseball: Due for a breakout season


After an underachieving season last year, the Rangers look to turn things around this spring with a slew college recruits returning. Four of those returners are juniors who have been on the varsity team since their freshman year. Texas A&M commit Miko Rodriguez will lead the way. Juniors Nate Doolittle and Johnny Irish will lead the Rangers on the mound, accompanied by seniors Brett Vanwagoner and Mark Scannell. Behind the plate is the fourth key junior, Jake Heilman. These juniors roles look to expand in their third year, and it couldn’t come at a better time according to head coach Mark Rasmussen.

“We’ve got four juniors who have played since their freshman year,” said Rasmussen, who’s in his fourth year as head coach. “They’ve grown up a lot. I think the potential for this team is really high.”

Miko has high aspirations for himself and the team, and he believes this is their year.

“As a team we want to make a run and hopefully make it to states,” Miko said. “I think we have the ability to do it this year. I want to do the best I can to help the team win, while also improving as a player.”

As for Jake, he also has high hopes for the season and has set a common goal that the team shares. That goal is a conference championship, with new competition inside the conference.

“We’re looking to go out and win the conference this year.” said Jake, who is receiving division 1 interest. “With the new set up we have a good opportunity to go out and win the title. Falling short last year to Caledonia was tough, but they moved out so our chances increase a little bit.”

Coach Rasmussen believes this conference will provide great competition and every win will have to be hard fought.

“I think our league is going to be very good,” Rasmussen said. “There’s not one team that’s going to be a cakewalk, so I think everyday we have to show up.”

As an individual, Jake hopes to provide a lot from both behind the plate and in the box to help his team reach their peak.

“I look to contribute as much as I possibly can in the middle of the order,” Jake said. “Hopefully I can catch a lot of games behind the dish and get out on the mound some. Just continue to look to help as much as I can.”

Other than a star-studded series of juniors, the Rangers return some key seniors who will put up numbers on the field and provide leadership on the dugout. A pair of seniors who are destined for breakout seasons are outfielder Sean Wing and first baseman Reed Aleck. Sean, provides speed along with consistent hitting and will continue his baseball career at Aquinas College next year. Reed, who earned all-conference honors as a junior, is a 6’4″ slugger with a smooth glove at first.

Sean is prepared for his senior campaign and is looking forward to wearing the green and white for one last season.

“Our team goal is to win a state championship and nothing less,” Sean said. “Individually I would like to make all-conference again and help our team win in any way possible.”

Sean believes they have a deep team with all the intangibles to make a deep run into the tournament.

“We have some good senior leadership, and our juniors are really talented,” Sean said. “We also have Adam Tellier as a sophomore who can add a lot to our team.”

While all of these guys have goals in mind related to winning, each one of them has goals related to having fun and growing closer as a team. Junior Andrew Tebeau looks forward to bonding and making strides as a team.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to build better friendships with some of the new guys,” Andrew said. “I’m also looking forward to making a run in the playoffs.”

As for Miko, he’s halfway done with his high school baseball career and doesn’t want to take any time for granted.

“I’m just looking forward to the good times with the boys playing ball,” Miko said. “Nothing beats it.”

The Rangers begin their season at rival Forest Hills Northern on April 11th.