For the Perham Yellowjackets baseball team, this season may be one of rebuilding after several key and veteran players graduated last year and the team's No. 1 pitcher, Noah Rooney, is out for the season with a knee injury.
Rooney, who is committed to the University of Minnesota as a left-handed pitcher, also played center field when he wasn't pitching, and the team loses his batting skills in the lineup as well, according to head coach James Mulcahy. While the team does have a good collection of pitching arms to step into the vacancy Rooney leaves, they lack varsity experience.
"With the classes of 2020 and 2019, we were averaging almost nine runs a game and only giving up 2.5, so we will need to find offensive production as well as play solid defense to neutralize the opponent and help our inexperienced pitching staff," Mulcahy said. Three juniors -- Gage Germolus, Logan Pulju, and Chas Melvin -- each throw between 82 and 85 mph and will likely pitch the bulk of the innings this season, along with seniors Finn Diggins and Caden Schossow.
"In the field, we will have to find consistency and depth as these pitchers take the mound and vacate their fielding spot," Mulcahy said. Diggins, Germolus, and senior Jacob McAllister will spend time in the outfield, with McAllister taking over Rooney's spot in centerfield.
Junior first basemen Jack Mensing and Rian Solberg could also split time between designated hitter and the field and could also play some outfield if needed. Senior Andrew Smith looks to solidify his position at third base, and Melvin and Pulju will take care of the middle infield when not on the mound, according to Mulcahy.
Behind the plate, sophomore Ben Shumanky will handle the bulk of the catching, with freshman Blaiz Schmidt able to take over in that position in a long week if needed.
Other players Mulcahy sees as able to add depth at multiple positions include juniors Austin Aanenson, Carter Seedorf, and Mason Schepper and sophomores Evan Kovash, Austin Schmelz, and Conner Colliton.
The Yellowjackets first game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, April 15, when they host Heart of Lakes Conference rival Breckenridge.