New bats, no problem: NYM thrives with new equipment
NEW YORK MILLS -- No one here is admitting to being perfect. But the numbers suggest it.
The No. 4-ranked New York Mills High School baseball team is 14-0 and one of only four undefeated teams in Minnesota and one of only two in Class 1A.
In a year when hitters have complained about new bats hampering offense, the Eagles have averaged 9.6 runs per game.
"We complained about the bats at the beginning of the year," said junior infielder and lead-off man Shane Novak, who is hitting .476 this season. "That's just because we needed something to complain about."
Novak and the Eagles opened the season with a 19-1 win and have had six victories by margins of 10 or more runs.
Offense has been there. So has the pitching.
New York Mills gives up 1.6 runs per game, buoyed by a three-man pitching staff with two starters who are each 6-0.
"Our pitching has been outstanding," said sophomore pitcher Brandon Kupfer, who is 6-0 with 50 strikeouts, six walks and a 1.65 earned run average. "It's been awesome to do what we've done."
Kupfer and Novak also represent another slice of what's made this team unique. The Eagles only have four seniors on a team filled with sophomores and juniors.
It was a young team last year when the Eagles went 18-6 and reached the Minnesota state baseball tournament.
Senior pitcher Adam Snelgrove said last year's state tournament run helped the team realize they have talent.
This year, he said, has proved the team has the talent that can reach the state tournament and do some serious damage in the process.
"I think last year because we were young we had guys who had won before but not on this level," said Snelgrove, who is also 6-0 with 67 strikeouts and a 0.97 ERA. "But now we have guys who have won before and know how to win on this level."
New York Mills has dominated the state's Babe Ruth circuit, reaching the state tournament in consecutive seasons. They even won a title a few years back.
So it was only a matter of time before those players emulated that success at a high school level.
Kupfer, who was on that Babe Ruth state title team, said those experiences set them up for what could happen once they all reached high school.
"We knew we'd have success," Kupfer said.
Despite the high run totals, which included a 21-2 win, there's still more that can be done.
"I think we've been struggling with our hitting lately," Kupfer said. "It doesn't show but our 3-4-5 hitters, we need to come through. We've just been fortunate to have everyone else step up for us."